Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lovecraft Again

Future Lovecraft: edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles, including the following stories and poems (2011):

In This Brief Interval by Ann K. Schwader
In the Hall of the Yellow King by Peter Rawlik
Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Nyarlathotep by Nick Mamatas
Tri-TV by Bobby Cranestone
Do Not Imagine by Mari Ness
Rubedo, an Alchemy of Madness by Michael Matheson
People are Reading What You are Writing by Luso Mnthali
Harmony Amid the Stars by Ada Hoffmann
The Comet Called Ithaqua by Don Webb
Phoenix Woman by Kelda Crich
PostFlesh by Paul Jessup
The Library Twins and the Nekrobees by Martha Hubbard
Go, Go, Go, Said the Byakhee by Molly Tanzer
Skin by Helen Marshall
The Old 44th by Randy Stafford
Iron Footfalls by Julio Toro San Martin
This Song Is Not For You by Avery Cahill
Tloque Nahuaque by Nelly Geraldine Garcia-Rosas
Dolly in the Window by Robyn Seale
A Cool, Private Place by Jen White
Venice Burning by A. C. Wise
A Day and A Night in Providence by Anthony Boulanger
A Welcome Sestina From Cruise Director Isabeau Molyneux by Mae Empson
Lottie Versus the Moon Hopper by Pamela Rentz
The Damnable Asteroid by Leigh Kimmel
Myristica Fragrans by E. Catherine Tobler
Dark of the Moon by James S. Dorr
Trajectory of A Cursed Spirit by Meddy Ligner
Transmigration by Lee Clark Zumpe
Concerning the Last Days of the Colony At New Roanoke by Tucker Cummings
The Kadath Angle by Maria Mitchell
The Last Man Standing by Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso
Exhibit at the National Anthropology Museum in Tombouctou by Andrew Dombalagian
The Door From Earth by Jesse Bullington
The Deep Ones by Bryan Thao Worra
The Labyrinth of Sleep by Orrin Grey
Deep Blue Dreams by Sean Craven
Big Bro by Arlene J. Yandug

This really is a collection of short stories and poems, which explains why a 350-page book has so many entries jammed into it. No novelettes allowed, much less novellas! Most of the works appear here for the first time, with a few exceptions.

As the title isn't Future Cthulhu, some selections have only a vague aura of Lovecraftian menace hanging about them. "The Last Man Standing," for example, is a nice little story that would perhaps be better found in an anthology called Future (Mary) Shelley.

Other stories pile on the references to the work of Lovecraft, Robert Chambers, and others of their ilk to such an extent that they read like hypermanic fan fiction -- "In the Hall of the Yellow King" probably most of all reaches a level of intertextual inertia that starts off amusingly and ends up in the Hall of Inutterable Goofiness (a female spawn of Cthulhu! With boobs! Seducing...oh, never mind).

There's some nice work here, whether the droll offering from Nick Mamatas, the documentary riff by Tucker Cummings, or the pitch-perfect "The Damnable Asteroid," whose author gets the fact that while most of Lovecraft's stories were downbeat, their endings were not necessarily so -- conditional victory over the forces of darkness was a recurring plot point, no matter how dire the overall situation. A lot of stories here instead go for the destruction or conquest of everything by dark forces; that gets pretty tiring after awhile.

I wouldn't call this a great anthology -- the poems especially are a real drag. But I've certainly read higher profile homages to Lovecraft that were worse, and the shortness of the works allows one to sample an awful lot of writers one may not have heard of. In general, though, I'd argue that homages to Lovecraft -- and the Cthulhu portion of his body of work -- are best attempted at novella length. Recommended.

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