Dec 15 2009 4:27pm

A Cthulhu Christmas, some gift suggestions—part two

Hippocampus Press published five volumes of Collected Essays by Lovecraft, all edited by S.T. Joshi. The volumes cover Amateur Journalism, a rich volume demonstrating Lovecraft’s deep involvement in amateur criticism; Literary Criticism, with essays about Lord Dunsany, Frank Belknap Long, and Clark Ashton Smith, “Weird Story Plots,” and the famous “Supernatural Horror in Literature; Science, with essays for the layman about the solar system; Travel, a fascinating trip report by Lovecraft of his travels along the east coast in the last ten years of his life; and Philosophy; Autobiography and Miscellany featuring opinion pieces on a wide range of political subjects. Also, his memorials for Henry S. Whitehead and Robert E. Howard, a “Confession of Unfaith,” “Instructions in case of Decease,” and a variety of odds and ends that provide insights into the man. Unfortunately, only a few of the volumes are still available new (and from the Tor.com bookstore) but the rest might be found used.

Here’s a handful of entertaining Lovecraftian novels, in and out of print.

Nick Mamatas’s Move Under Ground, (Prime) an entertaining first novel that combines the “beats” of the 50s and their experiences on the road with the Cthulhu mythos. Imagine that the Elder Gods are taking over America, city by city and only the alcoholic emotional wreck Jack Kerouac, his junkie friend Bill Burroughs, and Neal Cassady are between them and human annihilation. It’s a crazy idea and it works by the sheer force of will and by the marvelous ability of Mamatas to capture the voices of the beat trio (with a guest appearance by Allen Ginsberg).

The 37th Mandela by Marc Laidlaw (St. Martin’s Press) is an accomplished Lovecraftian novel that slams new age charlatans such as Derek Crowe, who has made a name by interpreting stolen occult material. His cynical use of 37 mysterious mandalas allows them (they’re monsters) into our world. When an innocent young woman is “possessed” by them, her husband takes her on a road trip to seek out Crowe and his supposed expertise.

Resume with Monsters by William Browning Spencer (Permanent Press) combines office politics with Lovecraft in this antic comic novel about a poor schlub who moves from one dead end job to another, haunted by monsters imaginary and real. Winner of the 1995 International Horror Guild Award for best novel.

The Darkest Part of the Woods by Ramsey Campbell (Tor) — Campbell’s early fiction was strongly influenced by Lovecraft, and he became expert at the Lovecraftian pastiche. But since making his way out from under the influence, he has become one of the most lauded contemporary horror writers today. He’s known for both psychological and supernatural horror stories and novels, including one of my favorites, The Face that Must Die. With The Darkest Part of the Woods, he returns to supernatural horror for the first time in several years and pays homage once more to the Elder Gods.

Much of Jeff VanderMeer's fiction shows a possibly unhealthy interest in the fungal, as seen in his most recent novel, Finch (Underland Press), the third about the imaginary city of Ambergris. John Finch is a human detective brought in by the Gray Caps (called such because they resemble mushrooms), aliens who control the city, to solve a double murder.  Spies, thugs, alien weapons, treachery, mysterious doors, and the past—weighing heavily on most every character—make for a fine read.


The New Lovecraft Circle edited by Robert M. Price (Del Rey, reprinted from the Arkham House hardcover) focuses on the second generation of writers influenced by H. P. Lovecraft, with stories by writers such as Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell, Lin Carter, Karl Edward Wagner, Richard A. Lupoff, and Thomas Ligotti, among others.

Lovecraft Unbound edited by Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse) was an attempt by myself to put together an anthology of mostly original stories (with four reprints) that pay homage to the mythos and obsessions of H. P. Lovecraft without being slavishly imitative of his style. So I asked for my contributors to avoid using the trappings of the master and begged them to avoid tentacles. Some brave souls threw in a few tentacles or Elder Gods and I still loved their stories.

More next time.

Ellen Datlow is currently tied (with frequent co-editor Terri Windling) as the winner of the most World Fantasy Awards in the organization’s history (nine). She has also won, with co-editor Windling, a Bram Stoker Award for The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror #13, and with co-editors Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, a Bram Stoker Award for The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror #17. She has also won the International Horror Guild Award for her anthologies The Dark and Inferno; the Shirley Jackson Award for Inferno; the Locus Award for Best Editor in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 and the Hugo Award for Best Editor in 2002, 2005, and Best Editor Short Fiction in 2008. In addition, SCIFICTION won the Hugo Award for best Web site in 2005 as well as the Wooden Rocket award as best online magazine for 2005. Ellen was named recipient of the 2007 Karl Edward Wagner Award, given at the British Fantasy Convention for “outstanding contribution to the genre.”

This article is part of December Belongs To Cthulhu: ‹ previous | index | next ›
Erika A.
1. brownjawa
These sound great! Thanks for the recommends. :)
2. 123Arthu
Thanks for those recommendations, I'll have to follow those up. The Marc Laidlwaw one is particularly intriguing, and I'll even forgive the self recommend since "Lovecraft Unbound" is actually very good.

TBH this whole "Lovecraft month" has been a colossal disappointment for the most part, especially the awful "analysis" of stories by Seamus Cooper, but I'd call your participation, and that of Elizabeth Bear, exceptions.
3. dark vince
read them all except the HPL essays and the campbell!
well, and your latest anthology as well.
living the life of ry'leh.
sort of.
havta check out part 1. later
me and cornbread
4. Nick Mamatas
Leisure also did a mass market paperback of The 37th Mandala, which might be a bit cheaper and easier to find in a used bookstore or elsewhere on the secondhand market.
5. Matt Carpenter
Well, everyone has their favorites. Here are my top 10 mythos novels, not in any particular order.

Radiant Dawn - Goodfellow - my favorite on this list
Ravenous Dusk - Goodfellow
The Atrocity Archives - Stross
Delta Green: The Rules of Engagement
The Midnight Eye Files: The Amulet - Meikle
Where Goeth Nyarlathotep - Reiner
A Night in the Lonesome October - Zelazny
Downward to Darkness - McNaughton
Worse Things Waiting - McNaughton
Threshold - Kiernan (very Lovecraftian but not mythos)

Next up: some of my favorite stories!

6. Matt Carpenter
These are very high quality newer mythos stories. I can't really choose a favorite, but the ones with asterisks are inmy desert island collection for sure.

Cold Water Survival – Phillips
Come Lurk with Me and Be My Love – Spencer
Houses Under the Sea –Kiernan
Leng – Laidlaw
New Fish – Courters
Tomb in a Dead Moon – Curran
The Long Deep Dream – Clines
Abomination with Rice – Hughes
The Violet Princess – Rainey
To Be As They – Rainey*
A Study in Emerald – Gaimen*
The Doom That Came to Innsmouth – McNaughton*
A Colder War –Stross*
Incident on Highway 19 – Henderson
Rapture in Black – Rainey*
The Pisces Club – Ambuehl
Eldritch-Fellas – Curran
The Roaches in the Walls – Chambers
Dreams.biz – Lupoff
Turf – Moore
The Patriot – Goodrich
Children of the Mountain – Sternberg
The Barrens – Wilson*
Big “C” – Lumley
Once More, From the Top – Glancy
Russian Dolls – Furey
Only the End of the World Again – Gaimen
Daoine Domhain – Tremayne
What Washes Ashore – Thomas
Why We Do It – Schweitzer
The Disciple – Kirtley*
Final Draft - Annandale*
The Other Names – Campbell*
Bangkok Rules – Lestewka*
Clownfish –Baugh
The Wreck of the Ghost – Curran
What Sort of Man – de Bill
The Bookseller’s Second Wife – de Bill
Goat Mother – Comtois
Mail Order Bride – Schwader
Seduced – Shiflet
The Faces at Pine Dunes – Campbell
One Way Conversation – Sammons*
Twenty Mile – Schwader
False Containment – Conyers
Impossible Object – Conyers
Predicting Perdition – Melniczek
Black Man with a Horn – Klein*
The Margins – Weinberg
Wormwood – Curran
Mr. Skin – Milan*
Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock – Price
Acute Spiritual Fear – Price
The N-scale Horror – Giannattasio
Glimpses – Attanasio
Objects from the Gilman-Waite Colleciton – Schwader
Crouch End – King*
Fat Face – Shea*
Shaft Number 247 – Copper
Old Virginia - Barron*
Fair Exchange - Smith
The Last Feast of Harlequin - Ligotti
Cabinet 34, Drawer 6 - Kiernan
7. Matthew Carpenter
Here are some top notch single author mythos collections in the same ichor filled vein, I guess my 10 favorites:

The Imago Sequence - Barron
Blood Will Have Its Season - Pulver
When They Came - Webb
Unholy Dimensions - Thomas
Dark Wisdom - Myers
Strange Stars and Alien Shadows - Schwader
Sesqua Valley and Other Haunts - Pugmire
World Wide Web - Fry
Other Gods - Rainey
The Throne of Bones - McNaughton (if you consider ghouls Lovecraftian)

8. Matt Carpenter
And finally, here are my favorite multi-author mythos/Lovecraftian anthologies. I collect all the Chaosium cycle books, but often they have lots of mediocre stories. I have a lot more books on my lists on Amazon but these are, in my opinion, the best, with the most uniformly high quality stories. Sometimes I think high flying book editors don't get into the mythos trenches and read just about everything, so often times gems go overlooked and unrecommended. Note the minimal overlap between my list and Ms. Datlow's.

Delta Green: Dark Theaters
Delta Green: Alien Intelligence
Dead But Dreaming
Shadows Over Innsmouth (ed S. Jones)
Cthulhu 2000
Horrors Beyond I (ed W. Jones)
Night Voices, Night Journeys - (ed Ken) - This book and the next 3 are a series of original Japanese mythos fiction, newly translated.
Inverted Kingdom - (ed Ken)
Straight to Darkness (ed Ken)
The Dreaming God - (ed Ken)
Hardboiled Cthulhu - (ed Ambuehl)
Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth (ed S. Jones)
Miskatonic University (ed Weinberg)
Cthulhu Unbound #1 and 2

Ellen Datlow
9. datlow
Nick, I wasn't sure which editions to mention but sure, there are often cheap editions on offer in used bookstores and online.

These posts are most definitely not meant to be all-inclusive. They're the books/items I'm aware of and that I really liked. There's sooo much more out there (some awful, some ok, and some brilliant, that I just haven't read or encountered)

More recs coming next week.

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