Friday, 23 December 2011

review: future lovecraft by innsmouth free press

Metric: Stars.  Why?  Because they're right.  Really, what else do you propose for an anthology of Lovecraftian short stories set in the future?
DISCLAIMER: Based on a review copy from Innsmouth Free Press.
Overall: 4 stars (greater than it's parts, some cracking stuff here)
Future Lovecraft runs the gamut of Lovecraft's genre and it's settings reflects the myriad lenses in which we see the future.  From Prisoner-esque dystopias to post-apocalyptics where humanity seek mutation, and alien worlds where nanotech runs riot, the settings support the essential bleakness of Lovecraft's vision.  Some stories and poems sing, others crawl from the foamy brine.  All of them convey the horrors of an entity-filled, uncaring universe.

Stories: 4 stars  (varied in scope and execution, all of them interesting.)
The stories are a mix.  The opening stories are eye-opening aperitifs and not your typical eldritch horror.  From the virtual insanity of Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Nyarlathotep to Tri-TV's channel-surfing antics and the kitchen-sink catharsis of In the Hall of the Yellow King, this triptych serves as a timely reminder you're not in New England anymore Toto.  What follows next is a diverse smorgasbord of horrific sci-fi with distinctly Mythos slant. Rubedo, an Alchemy of Madness is as potent as the morphia dulling Eliana's senses.  Harmony Amid The Stars puts you in the head of a microbiologist diving into madness on a long-distance voyage to Barnard's Star.  The Comet Called Ithaqua reveals what happens when ghouls take to the stars.  PostFlesh reveals the fate of shipwrecks on a nano-ravaged world.  Go, Go, Go Said The Byakhee is post-apocalyptic, mutating, time-travelling tragedy.  Venice Burning is a deliciously dark take on a broken reality.  Myristica fragrans details shadowy horrors on a space station, giving hints of LeGuin or Tanith Lee.  Concerning The Last Days of the Colony of New Roanoke provides an archaeological point of view on ancient catastrophe, relived by those who didn't learn.  The Kadath Angle returns to Innsmouth for a space before going beyond.  Deep Blue Dreams reveals what happens when Mythos horrors become designer drugs.  Other stories in this volume are just as good, the above have particular interest for me.

Poetry: 4 stars (powerful stuff, may not be everyone's cuppa).
Lovecraft was an exponent of poetry and it's apposite that this collection includes Do Not Imagine, a powerful piece from the perspective of the aliens.  The Old 44th considers history and the Hounds of Tindalos. This Song Is Not For You reveals the charm of the piping from Azathoth's court. Transmigration laments the inevitable fate of the cultist, A Welcome Sestina from Cruise Director Isabelle Molyneux reveals the Mythos take on the adage 'you are what you eat'. The Deep Ones echoes the subject, I can imagine this chanted by Polynesian natives.  Finally Big Bro rounds off the volume with visions of the Crawling Chaos.  Again, there are other poems, these ones were of especial interest to me.

Admiration for the inclusion of strands of poetry in an anthology aside, Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles are to be commended for picking complementary stories and poems in distinct themes.  The diversity of authors and settings is a delight for those jaded with dreary New England shores and dissections of Lovecraft's racism.  This anthology shows the bleak universe that HPL and his peers advocated finds roots in all soils.  Which is as it should be.  The cosmic horrors dwelling beyond our apprehension care little about such pettiness.  This is a quality anthology and worthy of your attention if you're a fan of this genre.

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