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Book Review

Book Cover

Black Wings of Cthulhu 2


Edited by: S. T. Joshi
Publisher: Titan Books
RRP: £8.99, US $14.95, Cdn $16.95
ISBN: 978 0 85768 784 5
Publication Date: 28 February 2014

Black Wings of Cthulhu 2 is the second volume of short stories inspired by the works of Lovecraft. The book is edited by S. T Joshi, who also provides the preface. The book contains eighteen short stories.

The tales take their starting point from Lovecraft’s own mythology. Here is a universe where man is a meaningless speck in a much larger picture; where godlike creatures, whose power is matched by their hideousness, threaten all the time to break through to our level of reality. A meeting with such creatures is almost guaranteed to end in madness.

There is a similarity in the structure of the stories, unlike Kafka’s Metamorphosis, which detailed an early form of Cronenberg’s body horror subgenre, these stories tend to start out fairly normally and then slowly creep towards the final horrific reveal. While Lovecraft has fallen, somewhat, out of favour with modern readers his influence continues to dominate horror writing.

Given the cosmic span of the stories, Lovecraft tales can also be considered as science fiction and this duality is reflected in the various stories. Some take a more horror slant whilst others tend more towards science fiction. What draws them all together is that they are tales of humans falling into madness when confronted with the reality of the universe.

The problem with anthologies, especially ones which try, on some level, to write in someone else’s universe, is that you get a mixed output. This tends to be more from the reader's perspective, I remember having the same mixed feeling about the output which continued Asimov’s Foundation series. My own expectations dictated which stories I enjoyed the most. The same is true with this collection. Joshi has been scrupulous in weeding out stories which are mere mimicry of Lovecraft’s work; here you will find adaptations of Lovecraft’s ideas.

Most of the stories work well, except for Tom Fletchers’s View, which I felt spent a long time slowly creeping you out before ending too abruptly, however you may disagree. Both Lovecraft and his own creations appear in the book as well as references to his cosmic gods. Others take a more, be very careful what you go looking for, approach, or involve historical figures in their tales.

It is always difficult to highlight certain stories, given my own personal tastes I tended to enjoy the science fiction and purely strange stories, like John Logan’s Bloom, or Jonathan Thomas’ King of the at People, but the book has such a range of stories, within this subgenre, that there will be something here for everybody.


Charles Packer

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