A while back I worked my way through a complete collection of H. P. Lovecraft stories. It was an interesting experience for sure. Now I’m reading a collection of stories by him and others. The ones by him will be rereads. The others are other authors trying their hand at the same kind of cosmic horror. I got this book for a single story that was highly recommended by a online friend. We will see how the whole thing holds up.
This is quite possibly the most pro-Lovecraft ramble I’ve ever run across. The intro for the complete Lovecraft collection wasn’t this effusive about him. It was actually a little embarrassing to read this. Not to mention I kind of wanted to roll my eyes at parts. An objective Lovecraft scholar this guy is not.
The Call of Cthulhu, H. P. Lovecraft
Not one of my favorites. In fact, out of his decently written stories this is probably my least favorite. It kind of baffles me that this is the one that started the whole Cthulhu/Lovecraftian thing. I’d guess just because it’s one of the few Lovecraft horrors that gets an actual description and details instead of being a nameless indescribable terror. Anyway, felt even shorter and shallower than I remember. One of the stories that goes with the premise that knowledge is a bad thing. This isn’t even the ‘things man was not meant to know’ of eldritch incantations that drive the speaker mad, or occult necromancy that stains the soul. In this story we get that the narration character is scared and doesn’t want to tell people that this creature and evil cult even exist, because knowing about them is… Bad I guess? It’s literally where the world is in incredible danger, but the situation scares him so much that he wants to hide and rationalizes it as nobody should know about it, just because. This is quite possibly Lovecraft at the height of being the little kid hiding under the bedcovers because he thought he heard something.
The Return of the Sorcerer, Clark Ashton Smith
Eh, not bad. This has all the elements of this sub genre of Lovecraftian story, but lacks the spark that made the best of this stories really hit home. Language use for one, just didn’t sound like Lovecraft.
Ubbo-Sathla, Clark Ashton Smith
A bit better than the previous. Still missing that certain something the best of Lovecraft’s works had. Much better written than most of Lovecraft’s stories, but given that he was actually kind of a terrible writer that’s not exactly difficult. I think it’s still the language thing. For all of his flaws, Lovecraft did have a very interesting use of language that lent a mystical tone to things. It’s one of the main things that made his stories of a guy sitting in an empty room being scared enjoyable.
The Black Stone, Robert E. Howard
This could easily have been a Lovecraft story. Though a little upbeat in that the viewpoint character does not die or go insane. I liked this one.
This was proper Lovecraftian fiction. Language wasn’t quite as fluid and/or florid as Lovecraft managed, but all the ideas and themes of his work was present.
This is a Lovecraftian story done well, but without the fluid language Lovecraft used. I don’t mean this is one of those stories with the fancy language missing, lime a couple of these stories felt like. This is a Lovecraft story that was distilled down to its basic themes and elements and then rebuilt from the ground up. Probably one of the best executions of the unknowable horror I’ve run across. I really liked a conceptual turn of phrase that was used. The monster wrapping itself in its victim’s thoughts. That the thing was formless not because it was just some unknowable thing beyond human comprehension. That instead it had to manifest in the victim’s mind first before it had a physical presence for that person. It was one of those moments I read speculative fiction for. That money where a line in a story unfolds a concept in my mind all at once, when I just have to take a moment to turn it around in my head to examine all that sudden potential that just exploded in my brain. Was this one good as an actual story? About as much as any of Lovecraft’s works.
The Dweller in Darkness
I probably haven’t finished this one by the time this post goes up, but wanted to slip my reaction to it in. I’m having such a hard time slogging through this one. Mostly because it’s basically just a perfect rendition of a Lovecraft monster investigation story that I know what’s going to happen, and I don’t really care what’s going to happen. If you’ve read any Lovecraftian stories you’ve read this one and nothing in it is pulling at me, either the writing, the language use, the characters, the situation, nothing.
The stories I didn’t get around to before this post went up:
- The Dweller in Darkness, August Derleth
- Beyond the Threshold, August Derleth
- The Shambler from the Stars, Robert Bloch
- The Haunter of the Dark, H. P. Lovecraft
- The Shadow from the Steeple, Robert Bloch
- Notebook Found in a Deserted House, Robert Bloch (This was the story that I bought the collection for, since someone I know online said it was incredible. Meant to get around to it, didn’t quite yet.)
- The Salem Horror, Henry Kuttner
- The Terror from the Depths, Fritz Leiber
- Rising with Surtsey, Brian Lumley
- Cold Print, Ramsey Campbell
- The Return of the Lloigor, Colin Wilson
- My Boat, Joanna Russ
- Sticks, Karl Edward Wagner
- The Freshman, Philip José Farmer
- Jerusalem’s Lot, Stephen King
- Discovery of the Ghooric Zone, Richard A. Lupoff