Sardonic Tales: “A Circle That Ever Returneth In”

A few years ago, I did a thing where I picked a movie that would make a good double-feature with one of the stories in my then-newest collection, Painted Monsters. This year, for the Countdown to Halloween, I thought it might be fun to do the same thing, but with my now-newest collection, Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales.

“A Circle That Ever Returneth In” is, above all else, my ode to the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories of Fritz Leiber, which remain my favorite sword-and-sorcery tales. But, in the course of trying to bring something new to them, and to the intersection of swords-and-sorcery and Lovecraftian Mythos tales, I pulled in elements from Poe and the King in Yellow, to name a few.

There are plenty of sword-and-sorcery movies out there, but most of them don’t manage to capture the rich weirdness of the actual stories. I could suggest something like Don Coscarelli’s Beastmaster, and was almost going to, when I remembered the existence of “El Bosque Negro,” aka “The Black Forest.”


An early short film from director Paul Urkijo Alijo, whose Errementari is one of my favorite flicks of the last few years, “El Bosque Negro” brings a low-rent version of Errementari‘s signature aesthetic in front of the camera, and also echoes, to at least some extent, my story’s leitmotif of what Nietzsche called “the eternal return of the same.”

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