The Madness of Cthulhu Anthology by S.T. Joshi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lovecraftian anthologies tend to be uneven, especially earlier ones, where the stable of writers was fuller.
This is a later and smoother version, albeit with the work of some older and/or completely unexpected scribes. The level of craftsmanship is very high, and everyone clearly knows the material, which is another common issue.
I enjoyed it. Caitlin Kiernan’s story was the best, I thought (and think).
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Riding the Centipede by John Claude Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Terrance Blake is the best man in his world and would be a good man in most worlds. Rudolf is a mutant villain without a shred of decency, but still disciplined and purposeful. They are on a collision course, and don’t know it. Jane and Marlon Teagarden are only the twin rails that the story rolls along on, and only one of them is Riding the Centipede.
I get the sense that a lot of the actual journey was cut. The scenes of experience don’t seem as protracted as they might be. And that may be for the best.
The setting and denouement are determinedly Burroughsian, though there’s not as much of the old up and out and more of the Burgessian ultraviolence as Chernobyl performs his version of art. Though Jane Teagarden could use a little more fleshing-out of character, that would probably detract from the hold-your-breath movement of the narrative, which comes to an explosive climax.
Background-5;plotting-5;characters-4;style-5. Round up to 5.
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Carter & Lovecraft
With so many Mythos related tales out there, I’m usually incredibly picky about the stories I read. I always prefer the mythos full length novels. So, when I saw Amazon recommending Carter & Lovecraft to me, I decided to give it a chance. Continue reading
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Note: This review contains spoilers for H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
Verdict: This self-styled prequel to Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth, in which Matthew Davenport details the events and happenings leading to the corruption of the town of Innsmouth, is a successfully executed tale of dread and horror.
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A solipsistic trip into the mind of one who sees, from a perch atop Miskatonic University, the reality of it all. Is it the navel-gazing of a philosopher … or the witnessing of the infinite horror within oneself?
When I dream of a void, I dream of an unending chasm. White shadows whisper, and they eat into my mind. I hear the smells of sacrificial flesh, and see the tastes of foreign meat. But these are only nightmares.
I loathe my place in life. I want to escape, but I cannot. The city never seems to let me leave. At times, it nearly seems intentional—when I try to leave or have an out of town conference, I am always derailed or deferred. To be frank, I have never left the city in my entire life. Though I know that it is surely by chance or lack of ambition, it nonetheless seems entirely wrong. Does the city have a sentience? Logically, I know that is impossible, but these paranoias chill me nonetheless. But I want to leave! I need to leave, or I will die here. If I have decades left of life here, will that provide the opportunity I need? I think not.
Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos by Bobby Derie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If nothing else is said about it, I’ll say that this book is exhaustively researched. It doesn’t seem that a stone is unturned or an avenue unwalked in this exploration of Howard Philips Lovecraft’s love and sex life and how they may have affected his fiction, and by extension, that of many others who have followed in his footsteps.
The tone is dry, scholarly. It can be offputting if you’re used to the jauntiness of professional fiction. It took me a while to get used to it, and to dig deeply into the book. That’s not a knock-it is what it is.
This is a sober discussion of the subject(s) at hand, and the tone is the right tone.
Citations and quotations from members of the “Lovecraft Circle” and others who knew him well jostle for space with opinions from people outside the circle but in the know, and information from other professionals fleshes put the lot.
The book starts out exploring Lovecraft himself and then moves on to his fiction, that of others, and the influence of both on the “current state of weird fiction”, if there is such a thing.
If you’re into juicy, there’s enough information there to choke a Gug. Definitely worth the read if you’re interested in the world behind the Cthulhu Mythos, and interesting as a research subject even if not.
It isn’t for everyone, but is an excellent example of its type.
Four stars. Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos
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Behind the Eight-Ball
Buzzing. Buzzing and creaking and hissing, a conversation whispered in darkness. Nat was a fly on the wall, having gotten curious after a half-hour or so of intense colloquoy.
“I saw red,” Brown Jenkin said simply. “When the Zoog-weasels attacked me for no reason whatsoever, I retaliated.”
The man in black nodded. “And so it was necessary to kill them all. I see.” He templed his fingers, put them to his mouth thoughtfully.
“You realize that this kind of behavior is why I didn’t keep you on, yes?”
“I do. But I am who I am.” Jenkin scuffed at the ground with his left foot.
“Pity, that.” A chuckle came from the darkness under his hood. “You can be useful. So, since you’ve managed to be persona non grata in yet another place, what do we do with you now?”
“Promote me. Make me governor. You have kingdoms to spare. Why not me?”
Four-armed is Forewarned
Brown Jenkin part ten
Brown Jenkin crept silently down the seven hundred stairs to the bottom. He could be really, really quiet when he wanted to, and this was one of those occasions.
It wouldn’t do to create any commotion. Not yet, at least.
Night-gaunts didn’t hear him coming. The Gugs didn’t feel the stairs vibrating. Jenkin stepped onto the grassy sward unmolested, the sun glinting off the silver key he wore around his neck.
He carried a small bag in his right hand. In it were several cans of sardines and a package of steaks.
These were his offerings.