More praise for Lovecraft’s Monsters, the new anthology from Ellen Datlow.
Russ Thompson over at Hellnotes lavishes praise upon both the book and the editor.
Where else, in one anthology, can a reader jump from roman noir werewolves to steampunk tanks in the Amazon to tales of forbidden love on the Innsmouth shore to Pinkerton agents in the Wild West? It’s that wide of a variety in 16 stories and two poems and Datlow’s impeccable selection skills only fail with the inclusion of a story by Nick Mamatas, which, in addition to being the wearisome trope of a conversation among survivors at the end of the world, was in the previous Datlow-edited Lovecraft anthology.
Writing fiction set in the world of H. P. Lovecraft is a slippery slope. One misstep and you’re writing hackneyed pastiche that even August Derleth couldn’t stomach. It takes a steady hand, a sharp eye and an encyclopedic knowledge of short story writers to sort the wheat from the chaff. Fortunately, we have Ellen Datlow to lead the way.
Though Jack Feerick spends most of his Pop Dose review recounting what makes Lovecraft scary, he does manage to praise the anthology, in particular the artistic contributions of John Coulthart.
Into this arena steps the new anthology love Lovecraft’s Monsters (Tachyon), edited by Ellen Datlow and featuring a hit parade of contemporary fantasy and horror writers. Datlow, to her credit, sets out to avoid outright pastiche in her selections. But there’s something about the Cthulhu mythos that seems to inspire writers to play dress-up; and so many of the selections put Lovecraft’s creations through various genre exercises.
Sometimes these experiments yield terrific results. Laird Barron’s “Bulldozer” is bloody good fun, bringing the Elder Gods to the Wild West in an earthy, violent tale that starts like an episode of Deadwood gone terribly wrong and builds to a skin-freezing climax. “The Bleeding Shadow,” by Joe R. Lansdale, is another highlight, translating the setup to Lovecraft’s own “The Music of Erich Zann” into the world of Texas blues. Lansdale employs a hard-boiled narrative voice (consciously?) reminiscent of Walter Mosley. (Lansdale’s use of African-American protagonists would surely horrify the virulently-racist Lovecraft, which is all the more reason to admire it.)
Lovecraft’s Monsters is beautifully designed, and John Coulthart’s illustrations, all scratchy lines and tenebrous shading, are magnificently vile.
Editor Datlow was interviewed with fan questions on the Lovecraft eZine video show.
For more information on Lovecraft’s Monsters, visit the Tachyon site.
Cover and illustrations by John Coulthart