Another retro review, from December 9, 2005.
When it appeared on Amazon, weird fiction author Wilum Pugmire rightly chastised me for making a mistake about J. Vernon Shea not being an acquaintance of Lovecraft. He, in fact, corresponded with him. I’ve corrected that mistake here.
Review: Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, Volume 1, August Derleth, 1971.
All the authors in this book were personal friends or correspondents of H. P. Lovecraft. Several are distinguished authors in their own right. One, Clark Ashton Smith, could arguably be said to have made some fine contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos. But, apart from Frank Belknap Long’s “The Hounds of Tindalos“, none of this collection’s stories are worth reading on their own merits.
It was Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” which gave the Mythos its name. While not Lovecraft’s personal best, it is certainly one of the central Mythos stories. It has held up well after more than 60 years. That can not be said for many of his imitators. As this collection shows, there’s some alchemy at work in Lovecraft’s prose beyond the characteristic plot structures and adjectives, the props of gods/ETs and forbidden books, a power based in a carefully constructed paranoia with a decided scientific air about it — and not reworked mythology.
The worse offender here is the editor, personal friend, and arguable savior of Lovecraft’s reputation: August Derleth. Continue reading