Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Madness of Cthulhu Volume 2 (2015): edited by S.T. Joshi

The Madness of Cthulhu Volume 2 (2015): edited by S.T. Joshi, containing the following stories:

  • Foreword by Kim Newman
  • Introduction by S. T. Joshi
  • 20,000 Years Under the Sea by Kevin J. Anderson: Captain Nemo vs. Cthulhu.
  • Tsathoggua’s Breath by Brian Stableford: Solid, quasi-historical piece set in Viking-era Greenland resembles some of Clark Ashton Smith's pieces more than HPL.
  • The Door Beneath by Alan Dean Foster: Quasi-historical piece set in the 1980's involves Soviets experimenting with stuff they found in the Antarctica of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.
  • Dead Man Walking by William F. Nolan: Peripherally Lovecraftian piece from the venerable William F. (Logan's Run) Nolan more resembles a classic Jules de Grandin story.
  • A Crazy Mistake by Nancy Kilpatrick: Paranoia and madness follow a researcher doing research into the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • The Anatomy Lesson by Cody Goodfellow: Biology!
  • The Hollow Sky by Jason C. Eckhardt: Antarctic excavations and global warming and shoggoths in the present day.
  • The Last Ones by Mark Howard Jones: A nod to the Deep Ones of HPL's "The Shadow over Innsmouth."
  • A Footnote in the Black Budget by Jonathan Maberry: Action Cthulhu!
  • Deep Fracture by Steve Rasnic Tem: A typically elusive, allusive piece by Tem.
  • The Dream Stones by Donald Tyson: Canadian horror on the East Coast brings the star-stones of At the Mountains of Madness to Halifax. I particularly like how Tyson approximates the first-person narrative of some of HPL's especially freaked-out characters while nonetheless making the story's characters and events very much material that HPL couldn't (and wouldn't) have touched upon in the 1920's and 1930's.
  • The Blood in My Mouth by Laird Barron: Rare misfire by Barron puts one of his typically damaged male narrators on a collision course with a vaguely defined alien threat.
  • On the Shores of Destruction by Karen Haber: Doom!
  • Object 00922UU by Erik Bear and Greg Bear: Fun, slightly overlong science-fiction piece plays with the conventions of 'spaceship finds artifact with something gooshy inside.' The threat in this case dwarfs pretty much any similar threat depicted in a movie or story, though the Bears have trouble firmly establishing the cosmic vastness of an artifact described as being as large as six Jupiters (!).

The omnipresent S.T. Joshi serves up the second volume of a two-part anthology in which many (though not all) stories have been inspired in some way by HPL's chilling 1930's short novel At the Mountains of Madness. It's fun, though a little short on actual cosmic terror and a little long on me needing to take a break from contemporary Lovecraftian fiction. Recommended.

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