The Book of Yig

David Hambling sent me a review copy of this one. It is, incidentally, “respectfully dedicated to Brian Stableford”.

Review: The Book of Yig: Revelations of the Serpent, eds. David Hambling and Peter Rawlik, 2021.

First off, there’s not a bad or even so-so story in this book, and I definitely recommend it.

It follows the successful formula of earlier Cthulhu Mythos releases from Crossroad Press: Tales of Al-Azif and Tales of Yog-Sothoth. They take an element of the Mythos, get stories from a bunch of contributors (often working in their own Mythos series), and present the stories chronologically with thematic, character, and plot links between the stories. Appropriately, some mysteries, but not all, are revealed at the end. (You can also throw in the earlier Crossroad Press release Time Loopers in this category, but I didn’t know that when I read this book. I’ll be reviewing Time Loopers later.)

I suspect there are two reasons this anthology works so well.

First is that it is built around a more obscure element of Lovecraft’s work, “The Curse of Yig”, which he worked on as a ghostwriter with Zealia Bishop. While I’m sure there are others, the only other Yig story I’ve read before the ones in this book was Walter C. DeBill, Jr’s “When Yidhra Walks”. That gives the authors plenty of leeway.

Second, the authors, after taking Bishop’s and Lovecraft’s story as their starting point, combined it with some of the rich symbology around serpents and other elements of Lovecraft to give us a new benchmark in Crossroad Press’ unique approach to Mythos publications.

Bishop gets a mention in David Hambling’s “The Serpent in the Garden” as does Kipling, Poe, and of course, the Bible given the title. We’re introduced to the snake-men Yig, their hidden presence among us, and their mysterious motives and nature.

Continue reading “The Book of Yig”

Infestation

Having read some short stories from William Meikle and his Derek Adams trilogy, I decided to pick this one up.

It’s the first in what is currently a four part series (and more on the way) about the S-Squad, a series described by Meikle at his website as a tribute to several things –

50s big-bug B movies, Alistair MacLean books and movies, Aliens, and Dog Soldiers are all rattling around in there.

I’m not that big on the big bugs, but I am very fond of Alistair MacLean and particularly fond of his stories of spies and intrigue in cold places: Ice Station Zebra, Night Without End, and Where Eagles Dare.

Review: Infestation, William Meikle, 2017.Infestation

When a British commando unit drops into the frozen Canadian wastes west of Baffin Island to see what a mysterious Russian ship is doing in Canadian waters, it doesn’t take long to discover the carnage left behind by the cover creature.

Not all six members of the S-Squad are going to make to the end of Meikle’s story, and battling those critters through about a 100 pages doesn’t leave any room for a double agent – which I expected to see in a tale inspired by Alistair MacLean.

The opening, in a deserted fishing village at night, was atmospheric, but, to be honest, the critters didn’t do much for me. I did appreciate, being interested in geology, the origin story Meikle gives them.

Meikle does a nice job with the physical details. Cold water, however shallow, can kill quickly.. Fingers uncovered quickly become too numb to fire weapons. A character is half blinded from operating a cutting torch.

While I wished for some human treachery added to the giant bug plot and found the bugs eviscerating but not very emotionally invigorating, I am interested in more adventures of the S-Squad.

 

 

More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

Ice Reich

As I said in my review of Available Dark, I don’t read a lot of straight up mysteries and suspense novels these days. (Though, when I was young, I read almost all the Alastair Maclean oeuvre.)

However, I did read one in January 2001 and reviewed it.

I understand Mr. Dietrich has won a Pulitzer and has gone on to great success with his Ethan Gage series — which looks interesting but opportunity costs make it unlikely I’ll ever read them.

Review: Ice Reich, William Dietrich, 1998.Ice Reich

I wanted to like this novel. I wanted a lurid tale of Nazis in the Antarctica, up to no good with a super weapon or maybe establishing the beginnings of that secret base that, according to an old Police Gazette issue, Hitler fled to after the war. When I found out that Dietrich grafted a fictional plot on to the actual 1938 Nazi expedition to the frozen continent, I was fine with that too. I always wondered what they were up to down there.

Bush pilot Owen Hart takes up a Nazi offer to return to Antarctica, site of a former expedition whose failure some blame him for. Ambitious Nazi Jurgen Drexler has talked the Nazi hierarchy into leading an expedition south to stake Third Reich claims in the Antarctic and research the feasibility of whaling there, whale oil being a strategic war material. In December 1938, the expedition departs. Besides the usual support types of sailors and pilots, the expedition includes Drexler, Hart, a sinister Nazi doctor, some SS alpine troops for muscle, and one Greta Heinz, “polar biologist”. Heinz’s possesses questionable qualifications. She’s Drexler’s girlfriend, not a noted scientist.

The book starts slow. Things don’t start to take off until over a hundred pages into the book with a violent encounter between the Nazis, bent on asserting their territorial claims in southern waters, and a Norwegian whaling vessel. Crippled in the encounter, the ship limps into the bay of an island where the grisly effects of a new plague organism are on display. Continue reading “Ice Reich”