Ellen Datlow’s COVID-19 Check-In and comments on LOVECRAFT’S MONSTERS selections

THE VIRTUAL MEMORIES SHOW podcast checks in with editor extraordinaire Ellen Datlow where they discuss living in New York City during a pandemic, her health, and the status of FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB.

For TOR.COM as part of their The Lovecraft Reread, Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth discuss Caitlín Kiernan’s “Love is Forbidden, We Croak and Howl” and Gemma Files’s “Haruspicy”, both of which appeared in LOVECRAFT’S MONSTERS.

On Caitlín Kiernan’s “Love is Forbidden, We Croak and Howl”:

Know what could be even worse than ghouls or Deep Ones mating with humans? Try ghouls and Deep Ones mating with each other and thus compounding the sins of their forebears! And ghouls and Deep Ones mating (at least potentially) is what Caitlín Kiernan envisions in “Love is Forbidden, We Croak and Howl.” Croak and howl, now I get it. Deep Ones do the former, ghouls the latter. Sounds like a chorus more hellish than the one rising from the Hall of Dagon. Or not. Strange harmonies may intrigue, even delight.

But Kiernan isn’t doing Lovecraft one more horrible by crossing monster with monster, she’s doing him several more ironic. Like many humans, ghouls know little beyond their immediate World and suspect those seeking further knowledge—surely the gods would disapprove! Like many humans, Deep Ones have a strict social hierarchy. On top are “pureblood” Deep Ones, the original children of Dagon and Hydra. Beneath them but still acceptable are hybrid Deep Ones who’ve overcome landbound humanity and returned to the water. I expect hybrids who don’t transition properly are rungs beneath the returned hybrids. A plain old homogeneous human might be semi-tolerable. In a pinch. But a ghoul? My dear, what would great-great-great-et cetera-grandmother say?

Gemma Files’s “Haruspicy” (alongside H.P. Lovecraft’s “Nemesis”):

To play fair, I’ll take the quiz first. I think both this week’s poems are beautiful. “Nemesis” positively exhilarates me with dread. “Haruspicy” positively exhilarates me with revulsion—haruspicy, after all, is the art of divining through the examination of an animal’s entrails. Couldn’t we just use a crystal ball or tarot cards? Oh all right then, slice open that goat, or hanged man. What’s a little gore between haruspex and client? Besides, in the end “Haruspicy” gives me the warm fuzzies of fellowship. Ghoul or human or a hybrid of the two, we’re all going to face the void together one day, presumably after divining the eve of doom via chicken liver.

Or hanged man liver.