Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Black Wings of Cthulhu 4 (2015)

Black Wings [of Cthulhu] Volume 4 (2015) edited by S.T. Joshi, containing the following stories:

Artifact by Fred Chappell
Half Lost in Shadow by W. H. Pugmire
The Rasping Absence  by Richard Gavin
Black Ships Seen South of Heaven  by CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan
The Dark Sea Within  by Jason V Brock
Sealed by the Moon  by Gary Fry
Broken Sleep  by Cody Goodfellow
A Prism of Darkness  by Darrell Schweitzer
Night of the Piper by Ann K. Schwader
We Are Made of Stars  by Jonathan Thomas
Trophy  by Melanie Tem
Revival  by Stephen Woodworth
Contact  by John Pelan and Stephen Mark Rainey
Cult of the Dead  by Lois H. Gresh
Dark Redeemer  by Will Murray
In the Event of Death  by Simon Strantzas
The Wall of Asshur-sin  by Donald Tyson
Fear Lurks Atop Tempest Mount  by Charles Lovecraft 

Maybe not quite as good as previous installments in the Black Wings series ('of Cthulhu' is added in each case for the paperback publication; 'Black Wings' comes from a Lovecraft quotation about cosmic horror, a quotation that doesn't contain 'of Cthulhu,' whose wings I've always figured as being a dark, weird green, in case you were wondering). 

Or maybe I read too many new Cthulhu anthologies in too short a time.

There are stand-outs here from Kiernan, Brock, and Schweitzer. The latter's story features the real John Dee on the last day of his life, and it's a solid piece of cosmic quasi-history. The stories range from just this side of Lovecraftian pastiche to more elusive, allusive pieces of cosmic horror.

One thing I'll note again and again is that Lovecraft's literary children tend to be a lot more depressing than their progenitor. Several stories here feature the return of the Great Old Ones and the destruction of humanity, something Lovecraft never went through with. The depiction of these apocalypses never seems to equal what I imagine in my mind, leaving me a bit cold when it comes to the depiction of The Return of the Great Old Ones. Oh, well. Recommended.

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