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Entry updated 4 September 2023. Tagged: Character.

Thomas Carnacki is an early fictional Occult Detective [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], who, unlike most such investigators, uses scientific means to investigate hauntings. He was created by William Hope Hodgson with five Club Stories that ran in The Idler in 1910, plus a sixth in New Magazine in 1912, all collected as Carnacki the Ghost-Finder (coll 1913; exp 1947). An additional three stories appeared posthumously and all nine were collected in 1947, also as Carnacki the Ghost-Finder. Carnacki would generally arm himself with a camera, flashlight and gun when investigating a case. His technique was to carefully rule out human agencies, which he did find responsible in several cases, and then, if the haunting proved genuine, to determine its cause using a combination of pseudo-occult lore and electronic devices, such as his vacuum tube-operated electric pentacle (later echoed in Charles Stross's Laundry sequence). The background lore running through these stories and Hodgson's other works is often inventive and anticipates H P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. There have been two adaptations of Hodgson's original stories for Television: "The Whistling Room" in 1952 for Chevron Theater and "The Horse of the Invisible" in 1972 for The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes series.

Carnacki has had a resurgence of popularity in recent years, being seen as part of the Steampunk canon and taken up in Sequels by Other Hands by newer writers such as A F Kidd and Rick Kennett, twelve of whose collaborative stories are collected as No. 472 Cheyne Walk (coll 2002) and William Meikle, whose Carnacki: Heaven and Hell (coll 2011) contains ten stories. He also appears as a principal character, teamed with Dr James Watson (see Sherlock Holmes), in The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls (2008) by John R King, and in stories by Kim Newman, Barbara Hambly, Andrew Cartmel and others. An Original Anthology of new Carnacki stories is Carnacki, the New Adventures (anth 2014) edited by Sam Gafford. Carnacki also makes appearances in two Graphic Novels in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, The Black Dossier (graph 2008) and Century: 1910 (graph 2009). [LW]

see also: Forgotten Futures.


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