The Coming of Crow

Review: The Coming of Crow,  ed. Joel Jenkins, 2014.The Coming of Crow

Armed with a Colt Peacemaker blessed by a prophet on a night in the desert when the dead rose from the earth, the lone survivor of his tribe after they are wiped out by other Indians, raised by white Mormons, an ex-Army Scout turned bounty hunter, Lone Crow roams the west.

But it’s not just bad men he’ll encounter. His gun and tomahawk and bow will deal death to Cthulhoidish entities, shapeshifters, sorcerers, and Chinese demons from Alaska to Costa Rica, California to Colorado, Oklahoma to Arkham and New York City.

Jenkins’ Lone Crow is the literary descendant of Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane and Aaron B. Larson’s Haakon Jones and the finest weird western series I’ve encountered next to Larson’s. Truth be told, he may be better than Larson, and I’m just biased towards Larson because of his extensive use of my native South Dakota for many of his stories.

I’m not going to summarize the 14 stories here. That would give a false sense of tedium since many of the stories use a plot where Crow is after some bounty, encounters and defeats some supernatural menace, and then still has to deal with the normal dangers of capturing or killing bad men. However, if your interested in specifics, you’ll find a bit more on individual Crow stories elsewhere on the blog. Continue reading “The Coming of Crow”

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Master of Chaos

I can’t think of another time I’ve bought a book the very day I knew it was out and read it immediately.

That’s what I did with this one.

Review: Master of Chaos, David Hambling, 2018.Master-of-Chaos-001-low-res

It’s madness, modernism, Egyptian secrets, and racial hygiene in the latest Harry Stubbs adventure.

It’s 1925 and ex-boxer and bill collector Harry Stubbs, our narrator, is now an agent for the sinister Estelle de Vere, “Our Lady of the Holocaust” as another of her coerced agents calls her. Stubbs accepts her service in exchange for her not harming his family. De Vere, as he says, has a quite literal scorched-earth policy when dealing with humans suspected of alien contamination. Her TDS supposedly stands for Theral Development Service, but he thinks it has other names like Tribus Dies Syndicate. Continue reading “Master of Chaos”

Miskatonic University

The Lovecraft series continues with some modern takeoffs on his fiction.

Raw Feed (2005): Miskatonic University, eds. Martin H. Greenberg and Robert Weinberg, 1996.Miskatonic University

A Letter from the President to Incoming Students“, Stefan Dziemianowicz — An attempt, in keeping with the theme of the anthology, to introduce newbies to the Arkham/Miskatonic references in H. P. Lovecraft’s works.

Kali Yuga Comes”, Tina L. Jens — For me, this story was not only marred by the gratuitous swipes at James Watt and the Reagan administration by the narrator but also her usually unfunny wisecracks. The mixing of Kali (complete with rather incongruous interludes of third-person narrative in the Kali-killing sections) with Lovecraft didn’t work very well. The use of conventional mythologies in his work was something Lovecraft usually tried to avoid. It weakened his “The Horror at Red Hook” and only the inclusion of alternate dimensions and higher mathematics caused it to work in his “The Dreams in the Witch-House”).

Teachers”, Mort Castle — This story is not a tribute to Lovecraft but a bittersweet tribute to Castle’s friend, Robert Bloch — not only a one time protégé and correspondent of H. P. Lovecraft’s but a comic writer on occasion. Upon his death, Bloch, here Robert Blake (the name he is known by in Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark”) has earned immortality and gets to join the faculty, including Edgar Allan Poe and Lovecraft (the other authors I didn’t recognize), in teaching man at Miskatonic University. Oddly, enough this is the second story (out of two) in the anthology which makes a contemporary political reference — here a reference to Bill Clinton lying about sex. Continue reading “Miskatonic University”

H. P. Lovecraft: A Life

The Lovecraft series continues with a look at S. T. Joshi’s biography of that writer.

Joshi has expanded this 708 page book into 1,200 pages with the updated edition called I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m going to do my wrists a favor, when I do, and get the kindle edition.

Raw Feed (2005): H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, S. T. Joshi, 1996, 2004.H P Lovecraft A Life

Joshi is such a concise writer that it would do little good to sum up all the points of interest in this book’s 655 pages of text, and some it, expectedly, repeats Joshi’s H. P. Lovecraft and H. P. Lovecraft:  The Decline of the West. Since Joshi sums up all of Lovecraft’s fiction including some of his most important revisions, I think this book comes about as close as you can get to a one volume introduction to Lovecraft without reading his work.

He gives brief summaries of Lovecraft’s most important correspondents and professional contacts, the magazines he published in, and other matters related to Lovecraft’s interests, life, and times.

Granted, some of this gets a bit far afield.

Is it really necessary to give a summary of Antarctic exploration when mentioning Lovecraft’s interest in it even though it is, of course, relevant to his “At the Mountains of Madness“?

Still, I learned a lot about Lovecraft. Continue reading “H. P. Lovecraft: A Life”

H. P. Lovecraft

Another day and another day without a new review.

However, I’ll continue the Lovecraft series.

We’re done with Lovecraft’s fiction and moving into books about Lovecraft.

Raw Feed (2005): H. P. Lovecraft, S. T. Joshi, 1982.H P Lovecraft

I paged through this book for 21 years without actually reading it, before this, cover to cover (as well as looking through other Joshi writings on Lovecraft), so there wasn’t a lot here that I found new.

Still, I found some stuff new and interesting.

Concerning particular stories, Joshi makes the intriguing claim that Rome-loving Lovecraft was inspired by Constantine taking the treasures of the Western Empire to Constantinople when he had the Old Ones of “At the Mountains of Madness” stock, in their declining phase, their capital city in the Antarctic with treasures from their other cities. Furthermore, Joshi makes the claim (and I shall have to pay attention next time I read it) that “The Haunter of the Dark” is, like “The Thing on the Doorstep“, a tale of psychic possession. Continue reading “H. P. Lovecraft”

“Out of the Aeons”

The Lovecraft series continues with another primary revision.

Raw Feed (2005): “Out of the Aeons”, Hazel Heald [and H. P. Lovecraft], 1933.hm

In a sense, this story is a reworking of Lovecraft’s own “The Call of Cthulhu”.

It deals with the rising of an island out of the Pacific and ruins on it intimating at a worldwide cult devoted to the ancient diety Ghatanothoa.

Both stories are related via papers found in the effects of dead men and intimate that others have died at the hands of the cult.

However, this story does not feature “The Call of Cthulhu”’s sweep of ideas.

There are no artists and psychics picking up strange visions in their work and dreams.

The story is much more limited in geographical scope. (I believe that, at least for the environs of Earth, “The Call of Cthulhu” has Lovecraft’s most dispersed settings.)

The story’s largest flaw is a plot, full of too many details and names which began to strike one as silly unlike Lovecraft’s more disciplined efforts under his own name, involving T’yog the High-Priest of Shub-Niggurath who meets a bad end when he climbs a mountain top to confront the Dark God Ghatanothoa. (The end, where his brain is revealed to be still living in a seemingly mummified body, is predictable but then so are a lot of Lovecraft endings.)

Lovecraft not only references Clark Ashton Smith in a mention of Averoigne, France (setting of a cycle of Smith stories), but his earlier Randolph Carter cycle since Randolph Carter is mentioned in the guise of Swami Chandraputra and so is De Marigny (the dates do link up to Lovecraft’s “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” (finished earlier in 1933).

It’s middle grade Lovecraft.

 

More reviews of Lovecraft related titles are indexed on the Lovecraft page.

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

“Winged Death”

The Lovecraft series continues with another primary revision.

Raw Feed (2005): “Winged Death”, Hazel Heald [and H. P. Lovecraft], 1933.hm

An interesting biter-bitten story, interesting because of the scientific (or pseudo-scientific) details of using African flies infected with disease. Heald and Lovecraft mix the science with the supernatural transmigration of victim’s souls into the flies whose bite killed them.

Unlike the craxed artist Rogers from Heald and Lovecraft’s “The Horror in the Museum”, at least Dr. Slauenwite kills for the understandable motive of revenge, specifically because his victim intimated that he stole his theory from the work of another scientist. Slauenwite admits that the other scientist’s work would have anticipated his had he lived to publish it, but he did not plagiarize it.

I’m suspecting the influence of Lovecraft in the plot of the story given that it uses a typical Lovecraft device: a protagonist leaving behind a written record of his demise and the reasons behind it.

 

More reviews of Lovecraft related titles are indexed on the Lovecraft page.

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