I loved Threshold and it scared the bejeezus outta me, but I’m not sure that I completely got it. It’s a bit of a puzzle box. It’s not the sort of book where one version of “objective reality” is an applicable concept, and it’s about the unknowable more than about the unknown. But throughout I had the sense that author knew more than she was telling about what was (or wasn’t) under Red Mountain. And so when I learned about “Trilobite: The Writing of Threshold” I was extraordinarily eager to read it. I have a long-standing fascination with insights into the creative process but I was also hoping for a peek behind the curtain of the plot. “Trilobite” offers a little glimpse, perhaps, but the glimpse is of something murky and ill-lit. On reflection that seems like the right artistic choice; Threshold keeps its compelling mystery intact.
“Trilobite” includes several alternate prologues, and excised chapters and chapter fragments. Kiernan’s depiction of a supernaturally powered neo-Nazi cult is gripping and intense, but on the whole, the deleted bits suggest that Threshold started as a substantially more prosaic novel. There are two prequel stories, one which was also reprinted in Alabaster and one a more overtly Lovecraftian vignette set a century before the events of Threshold.
But for me, the most rewarding elements of “Trilobite” were its nonfiction components: Kiernan’s essay on Threshold‘s somewhat tortuous path from conception to execution, her context-setting introductions to the rethought bits of Threshold and the related stories, an essay on the actual geology of Birmingham and Red Mountain, and, most tantalizing, hard-to-read reproductions of several pages of hand-written notes on the structure of Threshold. And the package is sweetened by several photographs of real-world locales significant to Threshold.
I’m certainly not sorry I went through the effort required to find and read a copy of “Trilobite.”
needs more demons? no.