This is not a recycled Amazon review because, to be honest, I sort of had ethical calms about posting it there. Why? Because I was, in a minor way, a contributor to the book. (It was my first contribution, in fact, to Innsmouth Free Press.)
However, the publisher understandably wanted the collection promoted by its contributors, so I compromised and wrote this up for LibraryThing and posted it on January 20, 2012.
By the way, there’s no way Paula and Silvia would let me get away with paragraphs this long for anything accepted by them.
Review: Future Lovecraft, eds. Silvia Moreno-Gracia & Paula R. Stiles, 2012.
From France, South Africa, Nigeria, the Philippines, Mexico, Canada, and the United States, the editors have gathered 38 reasons to “fear the future”, an assemblage of poems and stories with few duds.
Before I slice and dice and categorize the works, full disclosure requires that I note I’m one of the contributors.
While the editors’ definition of Lovecraftian fiction doesn’t always match mine, there’s plenty here that unquestionably slithers into that category. A list of the liveliest follows. Yes, Nick Mamatas’ “Inky, Blinky, Pinky Nyarlathotep” combines Pac-Man, transhumans, and primo cosmic horror. Don Webb’s “A Comet Called Ithaqua” (one of four reprints in this anthology) puts ghouls in space with, as the title hints, echoes of Algernon Blackwood and August Derleth. Lovecraftian fiction is, of course, famous for its tomes of esoteric blasphemy, but Helen Marshall’s “Skin” looks at a different set of disturbing literature. I knew from an opening quote from Francis Thompson’s militant poem “The Hound of Heaven”, I was going to like Julio Toro San Martin “Iron Footfalls” which mixes the Hounds of Tindalos with killer robots. “Tloque Nahuaque” from Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas makes a connection between Aztec gods and Lovecraft’s. The prose-poem that is A. C. Wise’s “Venice Burning” hides some illogic and vagueness, but I’m giving it a pass for its apocalyptic images of Venice and a rising R’lyeh. Anthony Boulanger “A Day and Night in Providence” is sort of a wry commentary on fantasy literature and the opposition between the poles of Saint Tolkein and the heretical church of Lovecraft, Smith, and Howard. And, speaking of Clark Ashton Smith, Leigh Kimmel’s “The Damnable Asteroid”, with its tale of asteroid miners being menaced in space, reminded me of some of Smith’s pulp science fiction. And the Mars setting of Meddy Ligner’s “Trajectory of a Cursed Spirit”, a gulag for a revived Russian communist state, also reminded me a bit of Smith’s Martian horror stories, but I also liked its mixture of Lovecraftian horror and unpleasantly real horrors from Russian history. Smith is evoked most explicitly in Jesse Bullington’s “The Door from Earth”, sort of a wry, action-packed sequel to Smith’s “The Door to Saturn”. I loved the title of Tucker Cummings’ “Concerning the Last Days of the Colony at New Roanoke” and the story, an academic examination of 17 objects found in the lost colony, didn’t disappoint. I have a weakness for this sort of pseudo-documentary puzzle piece. Orrin Grey’s “The Labyrinth of Sleep” is not only a sure-footed, compelling riff on Lovecraft’s Randolph Carter stories, but an excellent variation on all those science fiction stories which feature dreamnauts and their sleuthing and symbolic combat in the symbolic land of dreams. “Go, Go, Go, Said the Byakhee” from Molly Tanzer is effective far future horror of cannibalism, mutants, and a lake god in Cappadocia. Continue reading →