Shoggoth

My look at Byron Craft’s Mythos Project series continues.

Cover by Eric Lofgren

Review: Shoggoth, Byron Craft, 2018. 

This is much more conventional novel in structure and feel than the preceding novel in the series, The Cry of Cthulhu. Specifically, it is structured like a modern thriller with multiple viewpoint characters, budding romance between some, and a climax that flits between several scenes.

The title, of course, tells us what Lovecraftian menace we’re dealing with, and the opening two chapters cover the invention of the shoggoth and the research project of one Isaac Morley in the late 19th century around the town of Darwin in the Mojave Desert. Then we move to our time.

Thomas Ironwood, compiler of the events of The Cry of Cthulhu, is the main character here. His work on a missile defense system, using solar powered lasers, is brought to a sudden end when Admiral Hawkins, Senator Neville Stream, and Stream’s rather too chummy associate, US Navy Captain Eastwater, announce a new project using money taken from Ironwood’s work.

Excavating land on the Naval Weapons Complex in the Mojave Desert will be required. The only hold up to the work, and it’s not much of one, is a figure from Ironwood’s past, the much-diminished ex-literature professor turned archaeologist, Alan Ward. He claims the project must be stopped to avoid sites of archaeological interest.

But the work proceeds anyway. A Seabee team, consisting, among others, of Gwendolyn Gilhooely and Jason Riggs, uncover a tunnel complex way too sophisticated to be the work of Indians. And they find a shoggoth which, of course, other unfortunate Seabees get to demonstrate the lethality of.

Soon enough, Ironwood and the naval group must contend with the mystery and menace of the shoggoths – and the tunnel complex runs under the naval base — and the plans of the believably sociopathic Stream for the shoggoths.

The one problem I had is that, given Ironwood’s former membership in the Mythos Department of Miskatonic University and the experiences of some its faculties as documented in Lovecraft’s The Shadow Out of Time and At the Mountains of Madness, I would expect him to know more about what’s going on at the beginning of the story than he does. I conclude Lovecraft, who exists in this universe, is thought to have just made those stories up. [Update: And the Gentleman from Providence does put in an appearance of a sort here which I enjoyed. No, he doesn’t]

It’s a pleasing thriller with moments of heroism, treachery, redemption, and love, but it is a step down in literary ambition from its series predecessor. Still, I liked it, and, if you like your Mythos menaces confronted by the military and modern hardware, this is the story for you.

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