Category Archives: H. P. Lovecraft

A Review of Apotheosis

apotheosisApotheosis
Jason Andrew, ed.
Simian Publishing
ebook $4.99 print $19.95

Okay, I’ve been putting off writing this review, but it’s time to put my nose to the grindstone and get it done.  A few weeks ago, one of the contributors to this anthology, someone I’ve known for a while and consider a friend, asked me for a review.  Since said contributor didn’t have access to a review copy, I went ahead and bought one.  The theme of a world after the Elder Gods return has been done before in other anthologies, but I’ve never gotten around to reading any of them.  It sounded intriguing.

Either I didn’t think things through, or I simply wasn’t the target audience for this anthology.  The stories fell into three categories basically:  those I liked, those I had no strong reaction to, and those I absolutely didn’t like.  For me to like an anthology, most of the stories need to be in the first category.  I didn’t find most of the stories to be to my liking, a condition that became more true the deeper I got into the book.  I read it straight through over several days, which may have been part of the problem.  I’ve been reading (and in my own fiction, writing) some pretty dark stuff lately; I could use a break.  I suspect there are some stories I would have liked better if I’d read them separately from the others and mixed with other types of fiction.

Now an anthology that deals with the world after the Elder Gods return isn’t going to be filled with sweetness and light.  H. P. Lovecraft made that clear.  But too many of the stories struck me as unpleasant people doing unpleasant things to other unpleasant people.  There wasn’t a lot of hope in many of the stories, and I think that was the problem I had with so much of the book.  (Please note, there were a couple of stories with hopeful endings that didn’t work for me for other reasons.)  But even if the odds are astronomically against the characters/humanity, I like there to be some element of not-giving-up.

So I debated on whether to even write the review.  I don’t like writing bad reviews.  My goal is not to trash someone’s work.  I’ll point out flaws, but if I just don’t like something, or in the case of an anthology, don’t like most of the stories, I prefer to just read and review something else.  But I had promised a review.

So here it is.  I’m going to highlight the stories that worked for me.  But I want to say a couple of things first.  All of the stories are of professional level as far as the writing is concerned.  The authors included in this book know how to write.  Some of the best writers are the ones who wrote stories I didn’t like.  After all, they got a strong reaction from me.  While a particular story may not have been my cup of tea, some of the authors whose works made me want to go for the brain bleach are authors who I would be willing to read again.  Because if they can get as strong a reaction from me in a positive way as they did a negative reaction, then that’s a story I’m going to want to read. Continue reading

Take a Trip into A Lonely and Curious Country

unnamed-2A Lonely and Curious Country
Matthew Carpenter, ed.
Ulthar Press
Trade Paper, 234 p., $16.95

As Matthew Carpenter points out in his introduction, Lovecraftian fiction has become a mainstay of the fantastic and weird fiction genres, with some of the best-written stories being published on a regular basis.  A Lonely and Curious Country is no exception.  (Mr. Carpenter didn’t say that, I did.)

The seventeen stories here are perfect examples of what’s going on in the admittedly large subfield of Lovecraftian fiction.  They are disturbing, horrifying, Lovecraftian.  In some the Lovecraftian element is quite prominent; in others, you don’t realize you’re in Lovecraft country until you’ve almost finished.  I’m not going to try to give a one or two sentence summary of each one.  Rather I’m going to focus on the ones that stood out to me.  YMMV.  One other thing before I start discussing the stories.  Of the eighteen authors, I had only heard of three of them prior to reading this book (Webb, Price, and McNamee).  There are a lot of good writers out there that I need to keep up with. Continue reading

H. P. Lovecraft Turns 125 Today

LovecraftOne of the greatest writers of weird fiction, some would the greatest, was born on August 20th, 1890.  I am, of course, talking about H. P. Lovecraft.  It’s also my mother-in-law’s birthday (Hi, June.), but we won’t go there.  It’s just coincidence.

There will be a number of tributes posted today.  I’m going to take a slightly different approach here.  I first encountered Lovecraft in an anthology I read in the seventh grade.  The story was “The Doom That Came to Sarnath.”*  I never really took an interest in the Mythos stories in my teens and twenties.  Only in my thirties and forties did I start delving into the stories Lovecraft is most known for.

I’ve had conversations with more than one person in which they said as they’ve grown older, they find Lovecraft more and more unreadable.  In general, they are talking about his prose.

Curiously, I find the opposite.  Maybe I’m reading different stories.  There are a number of major stories I haven’t read yet, but I don’t have a problem with Lovecraft’s prose most of the time.  It’s an old fashioned style, much more lush that what is standard today.  Maybe I read too much Dickens in school or something, but I don’t have a huge problem with it.  I appreciate his work more with each new story of his I read. Continue reading

Guest Post: Discovering Lovecraft by Paul McNamee

Keith here.  What follows is a guest post by Paul McNamee.  Normally I wouldn’t intrude but I wanted to include a link to Paul’s blog.  Now here’s Paul.

(First, thanks to Keith for the guest spot on Adventures Fantastic.

I am here promoting the new anthology, A LONELY & CURIOUS COUNTRY: Tales from the Lands of Lovecraft. The book is currently available in print from Amazon, and we all hope an ebook is soon to follow.)

Honestly, I don’t remember exactly when or which Lovecraft book I read first. It was the “old days,” the latter half of the 1980s. I was in college. I was interested in horror – mostly by way of Stephen King. And I still had an interest in fantasy – mostly by way of J.R.R. Tolkien.

There was no world wide web. In those days, I never knew what books were coming out. I would wander – mostly in the scifi/fantasy section of the bookstore. I would grab what jumped off the shelf at me.

The Del Rey editions of Lovecraft’s work were appearing on the shelves. The Michael Whelan art certainly caught my eye.

I believe it was THE DOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH first. It collected tales that were more dark fantasy. But there was enough horror there to pique my interest in that vein, too.

I probably read another volume, possibly THE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH. Again, it was slanted more toward the fantastic but contained horror tales as well.

But shortly thereafter, I read THE LURKING FEAR.
Continue reading

New BAF Post on The Young Magicians

Young MagiciansI’ve got a new BAF post up at Black Gate.

This one is on The Young Magicians, the second anthology of the series that Lin Carter edited.  It’s a companion to Dragons, Elves, and Heroes.  This one starts at William Morris and continues up to what was then the present day (1969).  Included are selections by Lovecraft, Smith, Howard, Kuttner, Merritt. and de Camp, as well as Lin Carter himself.

Report on Howard Days, Part 1: Thursday and Friday

HDs2015 Long Banner SmallRobert E. Howard Days 2015 has come to an end.  And while I have enjoyed them all, this has probably been the one I’ve enjoyed the most.  There are a number of things that came together to make this one of the most enjoyable Howard Days for me.  The weather couldn’t have been better.  The high temperatures were in the low 90s, which means it was warm but not really hot, especially since there was a breeze and the humidity wasn’t too bad. Continue reading

Lovecraft Letter to Publisher of Weird Tales

H._P._Lovecraft,_June_1934For those of you who have an interest in H. P. Lovecraft, I came across this today via The Passive Voice.  It’s an 8 page single spaced letter housed in the Harry Ransom Collection at the University of Texas, where much Robert E. Howard material is stored.

James Machin was researching Arthur Machen when he decided to check on any H. P. Lovecraft material that might be in the archives.  There was one letter dated February 2, 1924, from Lovecraft to J. C. Hennenberger, the publisher of Weird Tales.  As you might imagine, it’s a long letter that touches on many things, including two unwritten novels by Lovecraft.  I’m not sure if this is an unknown letter or not.  I’m not an expert on Lovecraft, and certainly not Lovecraft correspondence, by any means.

The entire letter as well as Machin’s comments about it can be read here.

Howard and Lovecraft Letters A Means to Freedom Out of Print Tomorrow

A Means to FreedomHippocampus Press sent out an email yesterday saying that the last day to purchase A Means to Freedom, the collected correspondence of H. P. Lovercraft and Robert E. Howard will be tomorrow.  After that, licensing agreements expire, and the book will be out of print and available only on the secondary market.  Where it will be much more expensive.  Here’s what they said.

Due to low stock and the end of our license term, the last day to purchase A MEANS TO FREEDOM: THE LETTERS OF H. P. LOVECRAFT AND ROBERT E. HOWARD will be Saturday, February 28th. After that date, this work will only be available on the secondary market, and not from Hippocampus Press. It’s been a good run and we have probably reached the intended audience, so a future reprint is unlikely.

So if you were planning on buying a copy, act fast.  Or be prepared to shell out the bucks later.

Blogging Northwest Smith: The Cold Gray God

150px-Weird_Tales_October_1935“The Cold Gray God” adds a slight Lovecraftian element to the Northwest Smith saga.  First published in the October 1935 issue of Weird Tales, the story opens with Smith being accosted on the street of Righa, a city in the polar regions of Mars, by a fur clad woman.  Smith thinks she’s a Venusian, but she behaves in a way a Venusian woman wouldn’t.  Fro one thing, she touches him.  I couldn’t help but think of women in Islamic countries from the way she is describes.

Although he’s somewhat repulsed by her, there’s something familiar about her, too.  At her request, Smith accompanies her back to her house.  There he discovers she’s a famous singer who simply vanished a few years earlier.  She asks him to help her retrieve a box from a man who is frequently a notorious bar.  She tells Smith he can name his own price, hinting that he can have her it that’s what he wants.  Leery, Smith still accepts her offer, asking for ten thousand dollars. Continue reading

Catherine Lucille Moore: Fantasy and Science Fiction Pioneer

C. L. MooreNot to mention one of the most important writers of the past century.

Catherine Lucille Moore, better known as C. L. Moore, was born on this day in 1911.  She sold her first story, “Shambleau”, in 1933.  (review here)

In certain circles among science fiction and fantasy authors and fans, one can find a popular belief that women authors have been suppressed and had their voices silenced by The Patriarchy.  And That Has to Change.  While it is true that until recently more authors have been men than women, one has to wonder what parallel universe some of these people have fallen out of.  Either that or if what they’ve been smoking is home grown or Columbian imported.  Many of them act like they’ve never heard of Ursula K. Le Guin, Leigh Brackett, Kate Wilhelm, or Andre Norton, among others. Continue reading