Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Mountain Walked: Great Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (2014) edited by S.T. Joshi

A Mountain Walked: Great Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (2014) edited by S.T. Joshi, containing the following stories:

The House of the Worm  (1933) by Mearle Prout
Far Below  (1939) by Robert Barbour Johnson
Spawn of the Green Abyss  (1946) by C. Hall Thompson
The Deep Ones (1969) by James Wade
The Franklyn Paragraphs (1973) by Ramsey Campbell
Where Yidhra Walks  (1976) by Walter C. DeBill, Jr.
Black Man with a Horn (1980) by T. E. D. Klein
The Last Feast of Harlequin (1990) by Thomas Ligotti
Only the End of the World Again  (1994) by Neil Gaiman
Mandelbrot Moldrot (2014) by Lois H. Gresh
The Black Brat of Dunwich (1997) by Stanley C. Sargent
The Phantom of Beguilement (2001) by W. H. Pugmire
 ...Hungry...Rats  (2014) by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
Virgin's Island  (2014) by Donald Tyson
In the Shadow of Swords (2014) by Cody Goodfellow
Mobymart After Midnight  (2014) by Jonathan Thomas
A Gentleman from Mexico (2007) by Mark Samuels
The Man with the Horn  (2014) by Jason V Brock
John Four  (2014) by CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan
Sigma Octantis (2014) by Rhys Hughes
[Anasazi]  (2014) by Gemma Files
The Wreck of the Aurora  (2014) by Patrick McGrath
Beneath the Beardmore (2014) by Michael Shea 

Omnipresent anthologist S.T. Joshi offers what seems to be his 19th Lovecraftian-themed anthology of the past five years. This one combines new material solicited for this anthology with little-reprinted stories of the past 86 (!!!) years of Lovecraft's influence.

"The House of the Worm"  (1933) by Mearle Prout and "Far Below"  (1939) by Robert Barbour Johnson are both fine and essential texts that echo Lovecraft without necessarily occurring in 'his' universe. They're both stunners in different ways, stunners I don't want to spoil. "Spawn of the Green Abyss"  (1946) by C. Hall Thompson is a fascinating 'parallel' text seemingly inspired by Lovecraft's "The Shadow over Innsmouth."

Of the later reprints, some are terrific and much-anthologized (pieces by Ligotti and Klein are all-timers). Some are terrific and under-anthologized ("The Franklyn Paragraphs" (1973) by Ramsey Campbell, though it really should be bundled with "The Truant" (1973)). Some are interesting, some are seriously wonky (I'm looking at you and your inter-species rape scene, "The Deep Ones" (1969) by James Wade). 

The original stories are mostly solid, though it's always a juggling act to combine a 'Best of' anthology with new material: it can sometimes seem like those old CD's and records that did so with 'Best of' material and 'Three new songs!', all of them sort of sucky. But there's nothing sucky here. 

I really like "Virgin's Island"  (2014) by Donald Tyson, a great slice of pseudo-documentarian horror that reminds one of Lovecraft without aping HPL's style. And it's set off the coast of the Atlantic Provinces of Canada! Gemma Files also adds some delicious CanCon, as Toronto rocks with an insidious alien attack. Michael Shea also delights with one of the hardest things to pull off -- a nod to HPL that's funny, revisionist, and sinister.

In all, a solid anthology with distinguished cuts from the past and present. The historical selections help push A Mountain Walked to highly recommended.

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