Since I shortly plan to review other books in this series, I thought I’d post this review which first appeared on the Innsmouth Free Press website on August 29, 2012.
Review: Black Wings II: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, ed. S. T. Joshi, 2011.
The triumph of Howard Phillips Lovecraft was complete when his name became an adjective, a literary compass heading for travel into zones of weirdness and horror. But it’s something of a deviant compass pointing in several directions.
Right up front, editor Joshi announces one territory we won’t be heading towards in this book: the land of the slavish Lovecraft pastiche, as thoroughly explored by Brian Lumley and August Derleth. Joshi and his authors point the reader to two other literary countries: the dark and fertile lands where Lovecraft’s blasphemous books and deities are not always present, but his “core themes and imagery” are, and the modern world haunted by the shade of the Gentleman from Providence.
The marches between those two areas are covered in the anthology’s first story, “When Death Wakes Me to Myself” by John Shirley. In this “nautilus shell recession of narrative,” a contemporary Providence psychiatrist encounters a young amnesiac whose new memories seem to be those of Lovecraft himself. Partly an affectionate look at Lovecraft and the paths his life never took, and partly cosmic menace – with unspoken love and cats and Poe thrown in, it’s humorous, paranoid, and unique.Continue reading