Sunday, June 12, 2016

Book Review: Cthulhu’s Reign

    “When the stars are right…”  Throughout the ever expanding Lovecraftian circle of weird fiction, there is an impending doom.  People who set themselves against the powers of the Great Old Ones and various cosmic menaces are fighting a holding action, a war of delays.  Eventually, the Universe will shift and Humanity as we know it will fall.  In some versions, we will become so alien ourselves that we will simply meld into the inhuman world to come.  In other versions, we will be swatted away like gnats.  But that doom lurks inevitably in our future.  With the Darrell Schweitzer edited anthology Cthulhu’s Reign, that future has come.  Here are stories set during or after that ending of all our tomorrows.

    After recently reading the really solid anthology Rehearsals For Oblivion, I was surprised and happy to find another anthology filled with solid stories. Not every one was a classic, but I don’t think there was a dog in the bunch. I’m not a fan of authors playing with tense, I’ll admit. So Mike Allen’s ‘Her Acres of Pastoral Playground’ didn’t thrill me.  I’m a traditionalist.  I like third person or first person, past tense; and first person only when done well.  But that’s my own literary prejudice.  Anyway, many of the stories were quite good, capturing very different moods and different versions of life under the crushing heel of apocalyptic revelations.  Brian Stableford’s ‘The Holocaust of Ecstasy’ is probably the weirdest, most out there of the stories.  Fred Chappell’s ‘Remnants’ leans further into the realm of outright science fiction than you often get with Mythos stories, which I enjoyed.

    If you’re into Cosmic Horror or Apocalyptic Fiction, this book has plenty to enjoy.  It’s a different take on themes Lovecraftian, a different angle to enjoy the Mythos from.  And there are lots of interesting ideas in it for readers who also enjoy tabletop roleplaying in the sandbox of Lovecraft and his disciples, as I do.

-Matthew J. Constantine

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