Marked to Die

By 2017, Mark Samuels was admired enough by his fellow weird fiction writers that a tribute anthology was published by Snuggly Books (also the publisher of both Brian Stableford original works and some of his translations from French). Of course, being a Samuels fan, I had to check it out.

Review: Marked to Die: A Tribute to Mark Samuels, ed. Justin Isis, 2017.

As you would expect from this sort of book, you get people doing takeoffs on Samuels stories and themes, authors presenting some version of Samuels the man – including some fantastically ironic ones, and some stories that are only tributes to Samuels in the author’s minds.

It’s a thick book and most of its stories are worth reading.

The author notes from Thana Niveau describes the first category thus

If Mark Samuels is high quality cocaine, this book is like the weird diluted version that’s possibly cut with bleach and maybe even hallucinogens; it’s still going to get you messed up, but possibly not in the way you were expecting. Real Mark books = brand name prescription drugs, this book = generic version from a third world country.

Niveau’s own “Language of the City” channels his dislike of cities in a story about a woman who grew up in Devon and had a frightening experience when traveling to London as a child. Studying art and interactive media in York, she begins to have visions, intimations of York’s past and of a city alive and ready to attack. Years later, after she’s returned to Devon, her husband disappears in London, and she will come to realize a truth:

It’s not the death of civilization, because there is no civilization. There is only the city. We delude ourselves into thinking we built all this, that we conceived it and designed it to serve our needs. But that’s not true. We’re the constructs. We’re the ones who were built. 

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The Gods of H. P. Lovecraft

Review: The Gods of H. P. Lovecraft, ed. Aaron J. French, 2015.The Gods of HP Lovecraft

There are a lot of different tones and registers you can chose when picking the voices for a collection of Cthulhu Mythos stories.

But, if you’re going to pull off the promise inherent in the title The Gods of H. P. Lovecraft, that tone better be one of mystery, awe, reverence, and a de-privileging of human values and concerns.

Largely it does.

First off, it has 12 nice black and white illustrations, one for each god, done by Paul Carrick, Steve Santiago, and John Coulthart, so you might want to pick up the print edition rather than e-book. Even more singular are Donald Tyson’s pieces on each god. Together, they read like a primer you’d find in the pocket of a new acolyte in one of those dark cults of Lovecraft.

The stories …

Well, the stories mostly work in providing the promised tone and affect.

There are a couple that go astray because they are entries in series that shoehorned Lovecraft into their plots.

One is Martha Wells’ “The Dark Gates” which has Yog-Sothoth showing up in a story of detection in her Ile-Rein series. The other is from Jonathan Maberry. “Dream a Little Dream of Me”, a Sam Hunter story. He’s a vulgar, tough talking, werewolf private eye turned lose in an overstuffed narrative with an Etruscan god, the Thule Society (beloved by occult-minded Nazis), and Lovecraft’s nightgaunts. There’s a whole lot more comedic mashup than mystery, real danger, or grandeur, dark or otherwise.

There’s a couple of other stories with odd tones that still carry off the title premise. Continue reading