Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lovecraft's Monsters, edited by Ellen Datlow

This week I'm going with a little more creepy feel and reviewing a Lovecraft anthology. This however isn't an anthology of stories written by Lovecraft himself, rather it's a collection of stories written by a variety of authors which utilizes Lovecraft's mythos and universe. Which is apparently fairly common as much of the popularity of the Lovecraft mythos isn't necessarily because of the writings of the man himself so much as the writings of other people who utilize his ideas. And it's always interesting to see ideas of one author get used by other people to create a larger and more complex universe.

As I mentioned this is an anthology and those always seem to give me a little bit of trouble from a reviewing standpoint. Anthologies are fun because you get to have tastes of different authors and get exposed to things you might not normally run across, but at the same time they can be frustrating. Sometimes I personally run into the problem that either the stories are too short, and leave me wishing for more from the author, or the stories are too long and I'm flipping through the anthology to see how much longer this story is going to take. Very occasionally you get a story that feels just the right length and feels perfect, but those aren't as common.

As I mentioned in my review of actual Lovecraft, I have some issues with reading Lovecraft and I think it might just not be my cup of tea. Definitely part of it is stylistic as Lovecraft and Lovecraft-inspired works seem to go pretty heavy with the purple prose. And that's certainly an aspect of the literature but more often than not for me, personally, it becomes more than a little too much. In addition, the stories where the lesson is more or less humans are tiny dust motes in a vast and uncaring universe and ultimately nothing we do really matters on a cosmic scale, I find that weirdly comforting rather than terrifying. I mean, yes, it's intimidating to be confronted with the vastness of the universe, but it certainly takes quite a lot of pressure off of me to be completely honest. I think the stories I like better are the ones where there are actually malevolent entities, completely beyond our control, who like to mess with humans for fun. And there certainly seem to be more of those in the more modern fiction. It's downright terrifying to have an enemy you can't fight, much less understand, and it wants to eat your soul. Very chilling.

My usual problem with anthologies is it's always a mixed bag. Some stories are good, some stories aren't, it all usually evens out towards the end. Personally I'm left with the feeling that Lovecraft fiction isn't really my thing and I'm better off with my pulp science-fiction novels of space adventure, but if you like Lovecraft it may be worth checking out.

- Kalpar

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