May 13, 2014

Lovecraft, Spacecraft: a review of "Space Eldritch" edited by Nathan Shumate

Space Eldritch
edited by Nathan Shumate
Cold Fusion Media (2012)
250 pages

I'll be honest. H.P. Lovecraft is not one of my favorite authors. Oh, the mythos that has become his legacy is great, but the style of language is a slog to read. About the only way I can really bring myself to sit through a Lovecraft tale is to listen to them in audio format, especially if the narrator has a lot of panache. Still, the shall-we-say old-fashioned views on race ring through, no matter what. A man of his time, perhaps, but it's a speed bump half the time with classic genre fiction. Thankfully, this anthology manages to capture and monstrous splendor of Lovecraft's imagination, while avoiding the terribly dated writing style and the even more terribly dated bigotry.

The anthology offers up seven pieces of long fiction from seven different authors, each with their own unique blending of science-fiction and Lovecraftian horror. Right out the gate, there is D.J. Butler's "Arise Thou Niarlat from Thy Rest." Any story that starts with, "Is this enough blood?", is off to a good start in bringing some horror. The clash of ancient with the futuristic rings through loud and clear, with human sacrifice, time travel, and a whole lot of madness in between.

Moving on was Michael R. Collings and "Space Opera." Aptly titled story, yeah? This one wound up being my favorite of the bunch, not in capturing the Lovecraft vibe so much as just offering a great, great scifi/horror hybrid. I mean, when you read the story and think of a space-age equivalent to "my god can beat up your god," there's a touch of humor to it, which is odd given the outright gruesome featured in the tale.

From the whole anthology, I walked away with three stories as standouts for me. Collings' one, of course, but also the works of Nathan Shumate and Howard Tayler. Shumate's "The Menace Under Mars" had a nostalgic vibe to it that I thought worked really well. Set in a re-imagined mid-twentieth century and an expedition into the bowels of the Red Planet? Yeah, creepy as heck. "Flight of the Runewright" by Howard Tayler may have done the best job at showing that old Lovecraftian favorite of showing the folly of man and science run amok. My first time reading Tayler's work too, after a couple years of listening to Writing Excuses Podcast.

If you're in the mood for some Lovecraftian horror with a space opera or sci-fi twist, you ought to give this book a look-see.

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