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Black Wings: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror

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From the depths of R'lyeh come twenty-one brand-new, utterly terrifying, and thoroughly entertaining short stories of horror and the macabre!  Taking their inspiration from works by Lovecraft himself, prominent writers such as Caitlin R. Kiernan, Brian Stableford, Ramsey Campbell, Michael Shea, Darrell Schweitzer, Donald R. Burleson, and David J. Schow delve dee From the depths of R'lyeh come twenty-one brand-new, utterly terrifying, and thoroughly entertaining short stories of horror and the macabre!  Taking their inspiration from works by Lovecraft himself, prominent writers such as Caitlin R. Kiernan, Brian Stableford, Ramsey Campbell, Michael Shea, Darrell Schweitzer, Donald R. Burleson, and David J. Schow delve deep into the psyche, expanding on concepts H.P. Lovecraft created and taking them in new directions. The result is stories that are wholly original, some even featuring Lovecraft himself as a character. Black Wings editor S.T. Joshi is the recognized authority on all things Lovecraftian, and is famous for his restorations of Lovecraft's original works. He has assembled a star-studded line-up in a book that is essential for every horror library.  Including:  Pickman's Other Model - Caitlín R. Kiernan  Desert Dreams - Donald R. Burleson  Engravings - Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.  Copping Squid - Michael Shea  Passing Spirits - Sam Gafford  The Broadsword - Laird Barron  Usurped - William Browning Spencer  Denker's Book - Davd J. Schow  Inhabitants of Wraithwood - W.H Pugmire  The Dome - Mollie L. Burleson  Rotterdam - Nicholas Royle  Tempting Providence - Jonathan Thomas  Howling in the Dark - Darrell Schweitzer  The Truth About Pickman - Brian Stableford  Tunnells - Philip Haldeman  The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash - Annotated by Ramsey Campbell  Violence, Child of Trust - Michael Cisco  Lesser Demons - Norman Partridge  An Eldritch Matter - Adam Niswander  Substitutions - Michael Marshall Smith  Susie - Jason Van Hollander 


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From the depths of R'lyeh come twenty-one brand-new, utterly terrifying, and thoroughly entertaining short stories of horror and the macabre!  Taking their inspiration from works by Lovecraft himself, prominent writers such as Caitlin R. Kiernan, Brian Stableford, Ramsey Campbell, Michael Shea, Darrell Schweitzer, Donald R. Burleson, and David J. Schow delve dee From the depths of R'lyeh come twenty-one brand-new, utterly terrifying, and thoroughly entertaining short stories of horror and the macabre!  Taking their inspiration from works by Lovecraft himself, prominent writers such as Caitlin R. Kiernan, Brian Stableford, Ramsey Campbell, Michael Shea, Darrell Schweitzer, Donald R. Burleson, and David J. Schow delve deep into the psyche, expanding on concepts H.P. Lovecraft created and taking them in new directions. The result is stories that are wholly original, some even featuring Lovecraft himself as a character. Black Wings editor S.T. Joshi is the recognized authority on all things Lovecraftian, and is famous for his restorations of Lovecraft's original works. He has assembled a star-studded line-up in a book that is essential for every horror library.  Including:  Pickman's Other Model - Caitlín R. Kiernan  Desert Dreams - Donald R. Burleson  Engravings - Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.  Copping Squid - Michael Shea  Passing Spirits - Sam Gafford  The Broadsword - Laird Barron  Usurped - William Browning Spencer  Denker's Book - Davd J. Schow  Inhabitants of Wraithwood - W.H Pugmire  The Dome - Mollie L. Burleson  Rotterdam - Nicholas Royle  Tempting Providence - Jonathan Thomas  Howling in the Dark - Darrell Schweitzer  The Truth About Pickman - Brian Stableford  Tunnells - Philip Haldeman  The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash - Annotated by Ramsey Campbell  Violence, Child of Trust - Michael Cisco  Lesser Demons - Norman Partridge  An Eldritch Matter - Adam Niswander  Substitutions - Michael Marshall Smith  Susie - Jason Van Hollander 

30 review for Black Wings: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    mark monday

    a mixed bag: a lot that interested and a lot that annoyed. not a keeper overall, but certainly a few gems in the collection. 4 stars "Violence, Child of Trust" by Michael Cisco "The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash" by Ramsey Campbell "Lesser Demons" by Norman Partridge "Tempting Providence" by Jonathan Thomas In "Violence, Child of Trust,"Cisco ingeniously and horribly reimagines Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury as a squirmy tale of a a mixed bag: a lot that interested and a lot that annoyed. not a keeper overall, but certainly a few gems in the collection. 4 stars "Violence, Child of Trust" by Michael Cisco "The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash" by Ramsey Campbell "Lesser Demons" by Norman Partridge "Tempting Providence" by Jonathan Thomas In "Violence, Child of Trust,"Cisco ingeniously and horribly reimagines Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury as a squirmy tale of a family of very different brothers, the kidnapped women they've forced into their backwoods cult, and the terrors that they worship. of all the stories, on the level of prose alone, "Violence" stands the tallest. it is brilliantly and challengingly written, full of ambiguity and startling changes in pespective. this would be a 5 star story if it wasn't so completely repugnant. "The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash" has Campbell at his most relaxed and playful. The deranged title character writes a series of letters to H.P. Lovecraft; the relationship between the two slowly degenerates. Lovecraft aficianados will find a lot of amusement in Nash's excoriations of the author's peers and stories; I found Nash's slow degradation to be eerie and eventually chilling. Norman Partridge's "Lesser Demons" is a cthulhic take on the post-apocalyptic us versus monsters tale. this was pure rambunctious fun, sardonic and brutal and swiftly paced. Partridge creates a world that I would have happily spent a whole novel living in. my personal favorite of the collection was Thomas' strange, melancholy and pleasingly ironic "Tempting Providence." an artist revisits his college during an art opening featuring his own work and finds himself haunted again by the ghost of Lovecraft. this set-up was not one that excited me but Thomas makes the experience unique. the story unfolds slowly, revealing layer upon layer: self-reflection and self-recrimination, mystifying changes in appetite and perspective, the present destroying the past, the past coming back to confound the present, battles of will both internal and external, and a fascinatingly oblique yet visceral threat. the story really came out of left field for me because I'm completely unfamiliar with the author. upon finishing it, I count myself a fan and plan on looking into his standalone collections. excellent story! 3 stars "Tunnels" by Philip Haldeman "Substitution" by Michael Marshall Smith "Usurped" by William Browning Spencer "The Truth about Pickman" by Brian Stableford "Pickman's Other Model" by Caitlín R. Kiernan "The Broadsword" by Laird Barron Haldeman and Smith construct a pair of exciting page-turners featuring unusual methods of catching (human) prey. Spencer only slightly evokes Lovecraft in his thoughtful tale of a relatively happy man intrigued by a mysterious and perhaps perfect-for-him neighbor (spoiler: she's not). Barron's epic story of an apartment building invaded by sadistic horrors starts very strong but devolves into nihilistic confusion; still, quite an intriguing and often genuinely scary piece. Kiernan and Stableford offer different takes on Lovecraft's classic story: the former rooted in cinema's dark past, the latter repositioning the story as one based on genetics (and eugenics). 2 stars "An Eldritch Matter" by Adam Niswander "Susie" by Jason Van Hollander "The Dome" by Mollie L. Burleson "Desert Dreams" by Donald R. Burleson "Engravings" by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. "Passing Spirits" by Sam Gafford "Inhabitants of Wraithwood" by W.H. Pugmire "Denker's Book" by David J. Schow "Rotterdam" by Nicholas Royle "Howling in the Dark" by Darrell Schweitzer these were all rather disappointing and often irritating, but none of them were genuinely bad. still, why go into detail about stories that either annoyed me or that I forgot almost as soon as I finished them. although I will say that I was frequently entertained by the jazzy modernist flourishes of Pulver's prose style; Burleson's metaphysical musings were at times compelling, and the Ligotti-like tension between grim atmosphere and cerebral tone in Royle's story occasionally intrigued me. 1 star/5 stars "Copping Squid" by Michael Shea this should have been a perfect story for me. Jim Thompson- esque noir plus cthulhic horror in San Francisco! Shea is an accomplished writer and clever wordsmith who can quickly establish an interesting and relatable protagonist within an instantly recognizable setting - one that can turn weird and threatening in mere moments. the updating of Lovecraft's themes to fit the modern world felt, at first, smart and fun. the vision of the SF Bay Area being a physical manifestation of one of the Old Ones was amazing! Shea has a way with imagery and clearly thinks outside of the box. but here's the thing: when you have an author like Lovecraft, one whose racism seeps into the occasional story like a dollop of spoiled milk in coffee or a piece of rancid meat in an otherwise delicious meal... don't reenvision that racism by updating it to a modern world of threatening low-income neighborhoods and ghoulish people of color who are ready to embrace the abyss. be aware of the context and don't ignore it - or worse, don't buy into it! because then you come across as being as racist as Lovecraft can be, when he's at his worst. and that's not a good look for a modern author.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    In The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos , S.T. Joshi accomplishes two primary things. First off, he gives us probably the best summation of H.P. Lovecraft and his "successors" (some more literal than others...I think pun intended) that has ever been put to pages and secondly, he manages to convey his great dissatisfaction with the majority of anything ever referred to as Lovecraftian. For those without much time to read but a desire to take in something a bit "bile-ridden", look up the chapter on In The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos , S.T. Joshi accomplishes two primary things. First off, he gives us probably the best summation of H.P. Lovecraft and his "successors" (some more literal than others...I think pun intended) that has ever been put to pages and secondly, he manages to convey his great dissatisfaction with the majority of anything ever referred to as Lovecraftian. For those without much time to read but a desire to take in something a bit "bile-ridden", look up the chapter on Brian Lumley. Blimey. When a leading scholar on Lovecraft* and great disparager of what he sees as faux-Lovecraftian tendency going as far back as August Derleth puts out an anthology that is a collection of brand-new mythos tales selected by himself, you take notice. While this could be like getting a mixed tape from a music-ranting hipster and finding out that is 70' of slow-beat electronic pap backed by nonsensical lyrics and whining, it could also be like a guru of 1980s era tunes laying some sublime post-punk on you and you realize that there was more to love than even your Rick Astley adoring self had ever dreamed. It could be a celebration or a pie-in-the-face moment. Either way, you — the reader — are a winner. Rest assured, fair Lovecraftian readers, Black Wings, Joshi's "Tales of the Lovecraftian Mythos", is a celebration. Not so much of Lovecraftian form (very few hyphenated adverbs), but of theme and approach. Somewhat. Because Joshi lays bare the fact that since endless namedropping Elder Gods and their eldritch tomes becomes painful pastiche, the heart of Lovecraftian ideals as translated into modern horror is much more an embracing of a theme. An idea that humanity is not alone, that the Universe does not care, that it might be a bit sinister, and that this sinisterness extrudes right into the edge of every day life. Again, somewhat, because of the slightly more than 20 tales, nearly all of them focus directly on personal horror. Which seems antithetical to all those practically nameless and faceless Lovecraft protagonists. He was a writer of ideas, and occasionally forgot things like plot and characters along the way. In many ways, this is much closer to "Tales of Horror Which Mostly Only Exist Because Lovecraft Helped Us to Understand New Concepts in Horror, Oh, and Some Have Mythos Elements." This is not a complaint, the stories are generally good to great and you never have to ask, "Now, what is *this* story doing here?". It is just a statement about the question of what makes Lovecraftian Lovecraftian. Great elder things lurking in the shadows of history? Dark tomes? Epistolatory expositions? A sense of creeping dread? Stark Cosmic Horror? Black Wings reaffirms the fact that you cannot really say *what* Lovecraftian horror is, but you will know it when you read it.** [Note, for those wanting to skip discussions of the individual stories and just to get the review of the book as a whole, skip here to the last paragraph.] What of the stories themselves, that the make the volume worth buying? They are all over the place but there are some interesting themes and patterns that develop. "Desert Dreams" (Donald Burleson) and "The Dome" (Mollie Burleson***) are straightforward Lovecraft small-bites where things are being talked about and oh, the horrors are real(!). The former is superior to the latter, but mostly because the latter barely rises above outright derivation. There's this dome, see, and it opens up and something with tentacles comes through, partially, and we are supposed to gasp. I would probably consider "The Dome" to be the low point of the book, though you have to realize that I am largely saying this due to it being the most like the sort of things plenty of Lovecraftians have already written. It wouldn't be out of place in The Watchers Out of Time. Another straightforward one, "Tunnels" by Phillip Haldeman, comes across as a little less pastiche but is still easily assigned to this first category. Two play with crimes and those who commit them: Michael Shea's "Copping Squid" and Joseph S. Pulver's "Engravings". "Squid" is the more interesting because it answers the question about why do cultists do it by asking: "Why do drug users do drugs? Don't they know it will only destroy them?" "Engravings" on the other hand is about a man making a desperate delivery and is much better in build up than in payoff. Then you have the quiet desperation of everyday life when it gets interrupted by darker things. "Substitution" (Michael Marshall Smith) about a man who dreams of a woman not his wife and finds the reality a bit disturbing (interestingly could be read as a shout-out to "Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath" but is probably "Shadow over Innsmouth"). William Browning Spencer's "Usurped" is partially about an underwater city that is now in a place that is a desert—the way that certain areas used to be sea bed basins but are now other things—but mostly about the weird way a marriage can become untrusting after a bad thing occurs. And "The Broadsword" is Laird Barron's immaculate descent into the horrors below as experienced by an older man mostly worried about committing to a relationship before he is ready. Strangers show up at his door while he is not around, voices whisper vile things in the air vents of his room, and eventually very not-right things begin to happen, and in some ways it is always about the expectations of relationships and when the right thing or wrong thing occurs. "Howling in the Dark", by Darrell Schweitzer, fits in this category, though it tends to be long on the trope and low in the tooth. A mood piece. There are two stories that act as sequels to "Pickman's Model". The first, "Pickman's Other Model (1929)" by Caitlin Kiernan is an evocative story about Pickman in other artforms, including the mostly media non grata in Lovecraft's own works: cinema. Stabs itself in the foot, slightly, by making its best bit take place in a dream and largely by just retelling he kick-in-the-pants of the original. With the added bonus of necrophilia. "The Truth about Pickman", the later story by Brian Stapleford is less evocative, probably stronger as far as justifying its need to exist (offering something of an interesting explanation to the original story), but a little less satisfying in the ending which could have went a dozen great places and mostly went to one so-so one. Joshi identifies W.H. Pugmire's "The Inhabitants of Wraithwood" as another Pickman-centric one, but it is possibly best grouped with Sam Gafford's "Passing Spirits", Jonathan Thomas's "Tempting Providence", and Jason Van Hollander's "Susie" as an exploration of fiction, especially horrific fiction, and the way it consumes real life, occasionally because real life requires such an escape. "Passing Spirits" is the height of this exploration, dealing with a man's descent into a brain-tumor induced escape into the realms of weird fiction. Excellent last line. "Wraithwood" is a good piece; Pugmire mixes up fatalism with the literal implications of being lost in a piece of art. "Susie" will either elicit groans or applause from readers. And, well, "Tempting Providence" as an excellent idea to start—dude trips around the new Providence and laments the changes that Lovecraft would have had to face had he been around to see them, but only gets there after many pages of building descriptions and a couple of mental excursions that come across not altogether hinged. Very slow read. "Rotterdam" (Nicholas Royle) rounds out this theme, and is a mostly inoffensive work kind of about the creative process, about making a movie, and kind of about statues and dead dudes in hotel rooms. And the rest play with form a bit. "Lesser Demons" (Norman Partridge) is survival horror with a vaguely Lovecraftian vibe. "An Eldritch Matter" (Adam Niswander) is a bit of a dark comedy, kind of a mythos parody of "Metamorphosis". "Violence, Child of Trust" (Michael Cisco) is a back-'n-forth narration by three backwoods-but-cultist brothers who need to make a sacrifice but only have a short time to prepare and no victims...unless they go for someone close... David Schow's "Denker's Book" is a very quick read about infernal engines and hints of their aftermath. Ramsey Campbell even contributes one involving a series of one-way letters and Lovecraft's harshest critic of all: another dreamer who calls him out for not going deeper, or darker enough. Its ending could be said to leave a lot to be desired, if you were so inclined to notice the negative. If you had to read just five, I would say "The Broadsword" (possibly my favorite in the anthology), "Violence, Child of Trust" (the other likely candidate), "Passing Spirits", "Substitution", and "Copping Squid". If you had to know what to skip, I would include "The Dome" in that for those who have read their share of Lovecraftian anthologies, but I'm not sure what else. I am a big fan of Campbell and what he does in "The Correspondence" is interesting in form but becomes kind of meh by the end and the potential climactic pow misses a mark. So, a Meh story, a handful of Fair stories. a larger handful of Good stories, and a few Great stories. The whole collection is Good and it is easy to look forward to the potential follow-ups that are being hinted about. Not a whole lot of copies of this, probably want to get it before its gone. * It would only slightly be delving into hyperbole to say that S.T. Joshi is a leading scholar on Lovecraft in the same way that Albert Einstein was a leading scholar on Relativity. ** Apologies to jazz. *** Until I typed that sentence, I had not noticed the names.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    My heart generally sinks when I pick up a genre anthology - I usually end up severely disappointed and not a little resentful at the pot-boilers I have had to wade through - but this is a wonderful exception. Not that it is perfect. Lovecraftian stories do not easily translate to the American South West and California and it is usually, though not always, a mistake to set such stories in deserts and sunshine. We can also do without literary experimentation in a genre where My heart generally sinks when I pick up a genre anthology - I usually end up severely disappointed and not a little resentful at the pot-boilers I have had to wade through - but this is a wonderful exception. Not that it is perfect. Lovecraftian stories do not easily translate to the American South West and California and it is usually, though not always, a mistake to set such stories in deserts and sunshine. We can also do without literary experimentation in a genre where the forms are well set, and everything depends on clarity of story line and on an atmosphere that must not need too much hard work to take in. But there are surprisingly few lapses of this type and I must put this down to superb editing by the estimable S T Joshi who has made Lovecraftian studies his own over several decades. Of course, Lovecraftian is not Lovecraft. Derleth is not Lovecraft. Anything that follows is going to be derivative so our judgment has to be solely on what gives new insight into cosmic horror. Perhaps the best way forward is to give praise where praise is due. There are 21 stories and most of them are excellent. Caitlin Kernan's opening 'Pickman's Other Model (1929)', which is not exclusive to this anthology, is perhaps closest to Lovecraft himself though clearly comes from another type of mind - it is no pastiche. Pickman also appears in an offering from that stalwart Brian Stapleford who gives us a finely tuned and allusive piece soaked in his knowledge of the literature. Another genre master Ramsey Campbell also takes his mission seriously in what amounts to a masterfully learned piece, not without humour, brilliantly showing a descent into madness and a horrible fate. Michael Cisco's 'Violence, Child of Trust' gets away with a bit of narrative experimentation, saying little that is not suggestive, but what is being suggested is the stuff of our deepest nightmares. The anthology really gets going with Michael Shea's 'Passing Spirits' which is more existential than cosmic horror. We cannot be sure if the Lovecraftian elements are caused by a brain tumour. Laird Barron's 'The Broadsword' is genuinely horrific with Lovecraftian themes being directed at bloody effects that cause genuine discomfort. 'Tunnels' by Philip Haldeman makes similar effective use of place as unstable. Barron gives us that American meme, the sinister hotel, and Haldeman forces us to worry about instinctual forces beneath us. The murder of a child and their fear will always tug at us. Barron's tale and 'Howling in the Dark' by Darrell Schweitzer play here with the borderline between madness and psychopathy to great effect. W H Pugmire's Gothic fantasy is also genuinely disturbing in the way we find in some East European symbolic literature or the works of Ligotti. It is indescribably mournful and sinister. I strongly recommend it. Nicholas Royle's 'Rotterdam' is deceptively pedestrian compared to the other tales and is perhaps only indirectly Lovecraftian but it still works as a picture of murderous psychosis in a frustrated man. Jonathan Thomas' 'Tempting Providence' has moments of excessive literariness and description but it builds up to an exciting climax that does what cosmic horror should do - unsettle us about reality. Norman Partidge's 'Lesser Demons' was probably my favourite because of its creative subversion of the all-conquering zombie meme into an invasion of ghouls and lesser demons. It works. I wanted more. Perhaps my second favourite was a wry and very British tale of English town life by Michael Marshall Smith that beautifully suggested the monstrous beneath the normal and our preference for simply not knowing. None of these stories represent pastiche and some manage to do something very difficult - show a wry humour about the horrible without making the horrible any less horrible. Very twenty-first century. Just because I have not mentioned something does not mean that it is not good. This is a superb collection and Joshi, the authors and Titan Books are to be congratulated.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Will N Van

    Unless every selection is absolutely abysmal (not in the dreadful Lovecraftian sense of the word), I'm generally lenient with fiction compilations. The editor knows that I have a penchant for the subject matter, and if I'm not moved by a particular story or feel that it was poorly written, I can at least say "they published this garbage, so why can't I be published?" I found only two or three of the twenty-one offerings in S.T. Joshi's "Black Wings of Cthulhu" that fell into this category, the r Unless every selection is absolutely abysmal (not in the dreadful Lovecraftian sense of the word), I'm generally lenient with fiction compilations. The editor knows that I have a penchant for the subject matter, and if I'm not moved by a particular story or feel that it was poorly written, I can at least say "they published this garbage, so why can't I be published?" I found only two or three of the twenty-one offerings in S.T. Joshi's "Black Wings of Cthulhu" that fell into this category, the rest ranging from moderately well-written and entertaining to exceptional and not to be missed. Not all of these were period pieces as one might expect, but I do have a soft spot for such, and the highlights included "Pickman's Other Model" by Caitlin R. Kiernan, and "The Truth About Pickman" by Brian Stableford. The absolutely brilliant "Inhabitants of Wraithwood" by W.H. Pugmire makes the book worth picking up for this story alone. "The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash" by veteran Ramsey Campbell offers a simultaneously humorous and chilling look into one of Lovecraft's forgotten aficionados, and "Howling in the Dark" by Darrell Schweitzer captures the hollowness and hopelessness of a Lovecraftian universe in chilling and effective prose. I am eagerly anticipating Volume 2 in late 2013, when the stars are right.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Goodrich

    Wonderful. A Lovecraftian anthology that stands among the best in the field. This belongs with Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos and New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos as one of the greatest collections of stories in tribute to Lovecraft.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bogdan

    Not an outstanding Anthology, but a very good start in this series of six volumes and counting! Usually I`m not into Caitlin R. Kieran work, but this time she nails it big time with "Pickman’s Other Model". This is an interesting & attractive story. Our central character is mesmerized by a old actress now, a movie starlet in her 20`s, and her unexplainable (horror/ cultist) short films. This has some erotic content to it, but it`s more intriguing, strange and scary, than anything Not an outstanding Anthology, but a very good start in this series of six volumes and counting! Usually I`m not into Caitlin R. Kieran work, but this time she nails it big time with "Pickman’s Other Model". This is an interesting & attractive story. Our central character is mesmerized by a old actress now, a movie starlet in her 20`s, and her unexplainable (horror/ cultist) short films. This has some erotic content to it, but it`s more intriguing, strange and scary, than anything else. "Engravings"by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. This was also a big surprise! Pulver has a name in this field, but I`m also not a big fan of his work, but with this one was quite entertaining. A guy is rushing with his car trough USA counties and a lot of bad weather, only to deliver a package to a know shaman like guy. Little did he know.... 4 stars!! Laird Barron has also one of it`s best efforts presented here in"The Broadsword", more readable and enjoyable than his usual work. Really strong, strong and also original story. "Usurped" by William Browning Spencer had a good touch in it. "The Truth about Pickman" by Brian Stableford has also some deep roots in Lovecraft`s stories and ideas. In "Tunnels", Philip Haldeman shows that he knows how to add new levels of tension to the story. Ramsey Campbell with "The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash" uses in a fortunate way a lot of known information about Lovecraft life and work in imagining a virtual correspondence between an obscure and unknown writer and Lovecraft itself. It was a pure delight to read this one. Michael Cisco`s "Violence, Child of Trust" was definitely written in a creepy and disturbing way with a big twist in the end. "Lesser Demons" by Norman Partridge was right on my alleyway a post-apocalyptic Lovecraftian future with a lot of strange creatures roaming around. Hell, yeah!!! "An Eldritch Matter" by Adam Niswander was funny enough to be remembered. "Substitution" by Michael Marshall Smith has a clever idea and shows that you don`t have to be way too curious about certain things and belongings of your neighbours because isn`t very good to your (mental or family) health. These stories were overall between three to four stars, the others that I don`t mentioned here were under, but not so bad as usually is. So, I felt that overall, having in mind that it`s impossible to satisfy all the readers tastes in one shot, this is a four stars effort.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    I've rounded my rating to 4 on this one from about 3.8; while pretty well written, some of the stories just didn't do it for me. I have a longer review here; feel free to bounce over and take a look. In Joshi's anthology, Black Wings of Cthulhu, although the stories are not all limited to the dreaming god himself, he does make an appearance or two. For the most part, the cosmic horror Lovec I've rounded my rating to 4 on this one from about 3.8; while pretty well written, some of the stories just didn't do it for me. I have a longer review here; feel free to bounce over and take a look. In Joshi's anthology, Black Wings of Cthulhu, although the stories are not all limited to the dreaming god himself, he does make an appearance or two. For the most part, the cosmic horror Lovecraft was able to convey so well is maintained, as is his focus on the utter helplessness of human beings in the face of forces much larger than themselves. Another common thread throughout this book is that of humankind's inability to fully comprehend the immensity of the forces that lay hidden in unknown dimensions. There are a couple of issues with reviewing an entire anthology: first, each story is its own entity, and what may hold true for one entry doesn't necessarily equate throughout the entire book; second, reviewing individual stories is a lengthy process and would probably bore many readers out of their respective skulls. There are a few entries that were more gory or graphic rather than cerebral; I prefer the latter and like to feel that creeping and "profound sense of dread" when I read horror rather than have it all spelled out for me by the author. Out of twenty-one tales, three fell into that category for me; others may think differently so do realize that this is a matter of personal taste. Some of the stories in this book are by authors I've been following a long time: Caitlin Kiernan, Donald Burleson, Joseph S. Pulver, Laird Barron, W.H. Pugmire, Ramsey Campbell, and Michael Cisco. Many of these people have already shared their Lovecraft-inspired fiction in other anthologies or in their own books. Once inside the collection, there are three entries inspired by HPL's own "Pickman's Model," which he wrote in the late 1920s; there are some which feature HPL as a character; a story by Philip Haldeman (whose book Shadow Coast gave me a good case of the willies) that conjures up Bloch's Mysteries of the Worm, and even HPL's mom gets her own space in a story by Jason Van Hollander. Locations change as well -- from New England to the American Southwest to the Isle of Wight and other places. Campbell "annotates" a collection of letters belonging to Lovecraft, where HPL is insultingly called "Pulpcraft," and members of the original Lovecraft circle are similarly blasted by a bizarre "fan." Out of the entire collection, my least favorite stories were by Michael Cisco, entitled "Violence, Child of Trust," and "Lesser Demons," by Norman Partridge. While both held true to the whole "cosmic horror" ideal and were well written, they were just a bit too graphic for my personal taste -- hearts being ripped out, bodies being noisily eaten at a graveyard , for instance. I also didn't care that much for Nicholas Royle's "Rotterdam," which just didn't do it for me. As noted earlier, I tend toward more cerebral horror where what actually happens and why is really left to the reader's imagination after the author constructs his or her story. Although the Lovecraftian vision is at the heart of each story throughout this novel, you don't need to be a gung-ho Lovecraft fan to enjoy these stories -- if you're into the cosmically weird and horrifying, you'll get a lot out of these compelling tales as well.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    SOME SPOILERS AHEAD 30/8 - 200 pages in and I've read about 8 of the stories. So far while none of them have truly horrified me (in fact last night, after reading 4 or 5 of the stories I dreamed about a dessert buffet table where I searched for and found scones with jam and cream), they were differently weird and a bit spooky. The monsters (where applicable) were well described, I could imagine them without difficulty despite the fact that most of them were not humanoid. So far my fav SOME SPOILERS AHEAD 30/8 - 200 pages in and I've read about 8 of the stories. So far while none of them have truly horrified me (in fact last night, after reading 4 or 5 of the stories I dreamed about a dessert buffet table where I searched for and found scones with jam and cream), they were differently weird and a bit spooky. The monsters (where applicable) were well described, I could imagine them without difficulty despite the fact that most of them were not humanoid. So far my favourite has been "The Broadsword" by Laird Barron, which was about evil, psychotic aliens hiding in the boiler room of an old apartment building. I found this the most memorable story because of the creepy idea of these psychotic beings whispering to the tenants through the venting system in each apartment. I've never lived in a multiple occupant building, but can imagine being able to hear other tenants through the vents and then one day, suddenly hearing someone talking about eating someones brains versus sweatbreads (thymus or pancreas). I've never been much of a fan of short stories because I've always felt that there's not enough time to fully develop the story, (let alone the characters) or give a rounded out ending, but they are very easy to read. As I'm reading I feel like I'm speeding along because each short story is only 10 or so pages long, so there's no slow parts (in my opinion), and if I find any in the upcoming stories I imagine they won't be very long, as each author doesn't have enough pages to waste on unnecessary writing. 5/9 - Now finished. I originally rated this as 4 stars and now that I'm finished it's still the right rating. I found some of the stories went over my head a bit because they were focused on Lovecraft and some of his characters (I think that's who they were), especially Richard Upton Pickman. So I didn't understand the references to any Lovecrafts characters or his life. Prior to reading this I knew the name but that was it, I didn't even know that he wrote a strange combination of sci-fi/horror/fantasy. In the first part of my review I said that my favourite story was "The Broadsword" by Laird Barron, that's now my second favourite after "Lesser Demons" by Norman Partridge, the 3rd last story in the book. This one was about a dystopian post zombie-esque apocalyptic world where suddenly, out of nowhere a wide range of demons appeared on the planet. The demons would eat people and then spit the person's blood back out at anyone else hanging around. A few hours later anyone who got spat on is infected by the blood and becomes a zombie-esque psycho. They file down their teeth to points and dig up dead bodies for dinner. Another quite good one was An Eldritch Matter by Adam Niswander. It was very short but very interesting, about a guy who morphed into an octopus. Another review that I read asked the question "Is it a good book for people who have never read Lovecraft before?" I would say that some of the stories are easy to follow, while the ones more focused on Lovecraft characters are a bit difficult to understand. It was like watching an episode of a tv show half way through the second season, you have no idea who the characters are or how they relate to eachother, which leaves you feeling unsatisfied with the plot.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) It's true that I don't much care for story collections, although I do have a softer spot in my heart for the related story compilation format; and I just had a chance to read two better-than-average ones, actually, Mark Brand's Thank You, Death Robot and S.T. Joshi's Black Wings: New Tales of Lovec (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) It's true that I don't much care for story collections, although I do have a softer spot in my heart for the related story compilation format; and I just had a chance to read two better-than-average ones, actually, Mark Brand's Thank You, Death Robot and S.T. Joshi's Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror. Both are similar in set-up, a couple of respected genre authors being asked to assemble a collection of stories by other respected genre authors, all on a similar theme, with Brand's (a Chicagoan who I recently had the pleasure of meeting) being all about evil robots, and Joshi's (from our pals at PS Publishing) consisting entirely of tales inspired by either the style or mythos of HP Lovecraft; and that's why in general I tend to like compilations like these more than just random story collections by a single author, because at least these stick to one unified idea, and often try to reach an equilibrium of quality as well. Of course, that doesn't stop the trait from being there that I dislike so much in story collections, that the pieces found within tend to veer all over the place in both tone and length -- some are classical homages to their main subject, some ironic modern twists, some not much more than a short bad joke, others little novellas unto themselves. They're both excellent for what they are, and come highly recommended to existing fans of the subjects, but also deftly illustrate why I tend to do only short, non-committal reviews of such collections, in that I find it hard to say much more about them and have it remain true for the entire book. Out of 10: 8.4

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeannie Sloan

    This is just a quick opinion on this magnificent book.Joshi really outdid himself with this one.It was worth the $60 I payed for it.The stories are wonderful and don't fall into that trap of using too many thoughts and words from the Mythos of Lovecraft.There is a little similarity in the stories in that they are all interesting and well thought out.I will write more later but for now if you can afford this book-it's $43 at Bookfinders.com -then buy it!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Henrik

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. October 28: "Pickman's Other Model (1929)" by Caitlín R. Kiernan: Excellent story, but with a too vague/unclear ending, for my taste. But, truth be told, that may be because I was quite tired (because of RL business, not because of the story!)... A strong story opening the collection, that's for sure. I look forward to reading the rest, as time permits. October 30: "Passing Spirits" by Sam Gafford: A man is dying from cancer. In this tale we follow t/>October October 28: "Pickman's Other Model (1929)" by Caitlín R. Kiernan: Excellent story, but with a too vague/unclear ending, for my taste. But, truth be told, that may be because I was quite tired (because of RL business, not because of the story!)... A strong story opening the collection, that's for sure. I look forward to reading the rest, as time permits. October 30: "Passing Spirits" by Sam Gafford: A man is dying from cancer. In this tale we follow the process as he experiences it--which means reality and fantasy blending, his body "slowing down" and with HPL as his companion through it all. It was a fascinating read, in all its silent wonder, and to some extend I empathized with the narrator. I also appreciated the many hints to HPL's stories and the sub-genre as such. The story made an impression, which is very good, but it probably won't stay on my mind forever. November 1: "An Eldritch Matter" by Adam Niswander: A straight-forward tale about a man who turns into a tentacled creature. I rather liked it. Learning lesson, folks: Do not--I repeat: do not!--pick up shiny objects with strange design that you see on the curb. NOV. 6: Just finished W. H. Pugmire's story, "Inhabitants of Wraithwood." Excellent! Perhaps his best to date? Review coming. DEC. 27: "Engravings" by Joseph S. Pulver: I liked it a lot. Review coming. NOV. 8: Finished reading "Rotterdam"... Review coming... Good collection so far:-)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    I admit I didn't read all those stories (which is typical of my anthology reading habits), but those I did read were pretty good stories in the key of Lovecraft. I was surprised and pleased by how many of them were set in the American Southwest, which, despite the sunshine, can be eldritch places indeed.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rajiv

    Some of the stories captured the Lovecraftian feel of cosmic horror and dread. However, most of them felt like homages to Lovecraft rather than his style or genre. Overall, a decent compilation of short stories by authors who are more in love with Lovecraft than his craft.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daniela

    Great stories, must of them. Faithful to the lovecraftian storytelling or Mythos. Nice reading if you are a Lovecraft fan but wish for a more modern twist. Avoid if you are a lovecraftian-purist.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tim Knight

    Looking forward to the second one. Must read more of W.Pugmire's works.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Wesolowski

    Couple of clunkers, but a few really good stories, some of the best tribute fiction I have read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tarl

    I had been seeing this anthology in bookstores for some time, and finally decided to pick it up. I love a good Lovecraftian anthology and looked forward to reading this. As with any anthology, there are good stories, as well as ones that are less so. I'll talk about a few of the stories below. Pickman's Other Model (1929) by Caitlin R. Kiernan is easily one of the better stories in this anthology, if not the best. Well written, Kiernan captures a lot of the Lovecraftian theme alongsid I had been seeing this anthology in bookstores for some time, and finally decided to pick it up. I love a good Lovecraftian anthology and looked forward to reading this. As with any anthology, there are good stories, as well as ones that are less so. I'll talk about a few of the stories below. Pickman's Other Model (1929) by Caitlin R. Kiernan is easily one of the better stories in this anthology, if not the best. Well written, Kiernan captures a lot of the Lovecraftian theme alongside the very spirit of the story 'Pickman's Model'. There is something hauntingly beautiful in this story that lingers and makes me want to read it over and over again alongside Lovecraft's original works. Absolutely a wonderful story. Engravings by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. is the story of a man who has to deliver a package. The pacing of the story is well done and keeps the reader engaged. The mystery of the package plays out to a satisfying end and feels very Lovecraftian in its nature. I really enjoyed this story, enough so that I read it twice. Copping Squid by Michael Shea felt like a very Lovecraftian mystery. Shea handled his characters really well and his urban setting was both familiar and yet alien all at once. There is a nice level of mystery to this story and some scenes that are creepy with how Shea sets them up. This is my second time reading this story and I enjoyed it as much on the second reading as I did on the first. Passing Spirits by Sam Gafford uses Lovecraft himself as an element within the story which ended up feeling a bit cliche. He is not the first one to do so and at no point has it ever felt like it was the right thing to do for me. The ending of this story was nicely done, yet the only Lovecraftian element to this tale seemed to be Lovecraft himself as a character rather than anything theme-wise. I was disappointed with this story and felt that perhaps it would find more success in another anthology. Usurped by William Browning Spencer creates a surreal story that surmounts to a very Lovecraftian ending. The setting is handled well, and the mystery of the wasp was creepy in its nature and combined with the almost mythical feeling of the land worked really well. Inhabitants of Wraithwood by W.H.Pugmire felt like a freakshow version of the Adams Family combined with Dark Shadows. It works extremely well and creates a scary and haunting atmosphere that drags the reader into the story. The protagonist's viewpoint helps to add to the disturbing nature of the inhabitants with his mixture of real world ideals and artistic learning. A very nicely done story. The Truth About Pickman by Brian Stableford was a good story that got bogged down in exposition. Based around mostly dialogue, not enough happens in this story to keep the interest of the reader. The horror element is never reached within this piece, and even though the story is about fear and its nature, at no point did I ever feel scared for or invested in either character. In fact, the only engaging part of this story was the setting which Stableford handled really well. However, it's not enough to save this story. The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash by Ramsey Campbell is a series of letters that are creepy in the way they evolve as each one progresses. The reader is kept guessing if the belligerent letter writer is actually supernatural or just plain crazy up until the final note of the story. The letters do get to be a bit much later on and the language almost childish in nature. This does fit the nature of Nash in the story, yet Campbell seems to have crossed the tolerance line for the time spent on these later letters. Still, it's a good story that is creepy if only for the stalker nature of the letters. Violence, Child of Trust by Michael Cisco is one of the more confusing stories in this collection. Though told through three points of view, it's a good thing Cisco labelled each shift in character pov for the reader as two of the characters get lost in each other as the story continues. The entire tale builds to a twist ending which falls flat, isn't surprising, and is lost in the sheer lack of horror within this tale. Lesser Demons by Norman Partridge is a wonderful Lovecraftian post-apocalyptic story. This is my second time reading this story and I enjoyed it as much as the first time. The creatures Partridge brings into this story are distinctly his own, yet fits beautifully within Lovecraft's mythos. The action is handled well, the insanity perfect, and overall the tale is beautifully told. One of my favorites in this anthology and one of the best in this collection. An Eldritch Matter by Adam Niswander is a nice Lovecraftian story that loses a lot in the reactions of its characters. My biggest problem with this story is the protagonist's coworker, after having seen his coworker transform into a weird tentacle creature, remains almost detached when describing it to the ambulance workers. I found myself wondering why this coworker wasn't concerned, freaking out, or reacting in any manner to what had just happened. No one seems surprised at all, even the doctor, that there is a giant monstrous creature amongst them. (instead the doctor thinks it's a joke) The sheer non-reaction of all the characters, the protagonist included, ruined this story for me. Overall, this is an average collection of Lovecraftian and mythos tales. There are some real gems here, however they can be found in other, better collections. If you are a fan of Lovecraftian works, you're going to (like me) get this book regardless. It was a fun read, but most of the stories left me feeling uninspired and often unfulfilled. I still purchased Black Wings of Cthulhu 2, so I wasn't turned away away from this anthology completely. If you are a Lovecraft fan, pick up this anthology. If you are looking for a collection of post-Lovecraftian works, I would recommend you start with another anthology first.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Toolshed

    Pickman's Other Model - Caitlín R. Kiernan – 5* – Just awesome, the atmosphere here is so thick you can slice it with a knife, I could literally feel and see the era. Not to mention that the story itself is pretty intriguing, the history of some obscure films and one mysterious actress alone made this a unique experience through and through and the images Kiernan creates are very vivid. Desert Dreams - Donald R. Burleson – 3,5* – Rather typical lovecraftian tale which was not badly wr Pickman's Other Model - Caitlín R. Kiernan – 5* – Just awesome, the atmosphere here is so thick you can slice it with a knife, I could literally feel and see the era. Not to mention that the story itself is pretty intriguing, the history of some obscure films and one mysterious actress alone made this a unique experience through and through and the images Kiernan creates are very vivid. Desert Dreams - Donald R. Burleson – 3,5* – Rather typical lovecraftian tale which was not badly written but brought me only superficial-level enjoyment. Engravings - Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. – 3,5* Copping Squid - Michael Shea – 3,5* – The premise and style of writing was quite interesting but I didn’t find it very creepy. I understand it has been written as a form of modern era HPL pastiche or something but I feel like the story is missing some fundamental part that way (when losing its scariness or serious tone). Passing Spirits - Sam Gafford –4,5* – I really enjoyed the dismal tone of this one. Even if nothing else would happen in the story, the psychological insight into the mind of the protagonist was enough for me to get caught in it. The Broadsword - Laird Barron – 4,5* – Barron probably couldn’t write a bad story even if he tried but this one missed something in order to be perfect. I would probably like it a tiny bit more if the horrors in this one were much more obscured and abstract like in his other works – even though it’s still unclear to me whether some of the portions of the story actually occurred or not. Still, an awesome read nonetheless. Usurped - William Browning Spencer – 3* Denker's Book - Davd J. Schow – 2* Inhabitants of Wraithwood - W.H Pugmire – 5* – This one took me by surprise when I first read this anthology a year ago (December 2014) and I still think it’s one of its high points. I seem to have a thing for Pickman-related stories which is no wonder really since I consider the original one to be one of HPL’s best works, and this one, even though referring to it only vaguely, managed to contain all the elements I tend to like in fiction: a kind of surreal setting, dreamlike logic, peculiar characters and a rather surprising ending as well. The artistic references were a nice touch, and so were some of the nods to Pickman’s Model. Bravo. The Dome - Mollie L. Burleson – 4,5* – Sometimes less is really more, just like in this story which is classical Lovecraft actually and it might have actually been written by yours truly. Straight-to-the-point, short and swift with hardly any digressions, and yet it managed to be concluded in a satisfying manner. Rotterdam - Nicholas Royle – 4* – Apart from some references to Lovecraft and his works, this story is hardly a lovecraftian tale but yet I didn’t mind. It was one of the few stories I remembered quite well from a year back when I was doing my first read of it, and this was thanks to the musical references which stuck with me. Also, the atmosphere of Rotterdam was very memorable and is probably one of the main reasons for the 4* because God knows there isn’t much else to go on as far as the plot is concerned lol. Tempting Providence - Jonathan Thomas – 2* – At its length, it was quite a tiring, dull experience. Justin was a thoroughly unlikable character (even though the author did what he could to portray Palazzo as such) and I found reading 30 pages about an ever-hungry elderly artist chasing ghost really uninteresting. Some of the passages about old/new Providence were decent though. Howling in the Dark - Darrell Schweitzer – 4,5* – Wow, really good. This is exactly the kind of story I like: dark undertones, not a speck of humor, a lot of surreal scenes which make you wonder about the whole thing as you are not sure about what exactly happened but have that feeling lodged deep inside you – the feeling that you have just entered a world created by and extremely vivid imagination full of obscurities and broken dreams. The Truth About Pickman - Brian Stableford – 4,5* – An intriguing story which has really only one scene, one setting and is told solely through conversation between two characters, and this is all that takes Stableford to make the reader eat out of his hand. Tunnells - Philip Haldeman – 4* Probably the most unsettling story in this collection which might be partly due to the vulnerable point of view of a child which it is told through. I can imagine that if I have read this as a kid, it might leave me with some paranoid ideas for a couple of weeks after. The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash - Annotated by Ramsey Campbell –4* – Really liked the subtle development of the tale from a respectful fan letter to an angry diatribe, and also the realization that it was a kind of a monster story in itself after all. Violence, Child of Trust - Michael Cisco – 4* – These kinds of fragmented stories are my favourites, I like being shown more than told and being left to put the pieces of puzzle together, so to speak. Also, the title rocks. Lesser Demons - Norman Partridge – 5* – An enormously interesting blend of a sort-of-hard-boiled piece with supernatural post-apocalyptic horror. Not much Lovecraft in there – I found it more similar to King’s The Mist or the like – but working really well nevertheless. Even though I like bitter endings more but I kind of didn’t mind the pseudo-happy conclusion here, especially given what has preceded it. An Eldritch Matter - Adam Niswander – 1,5* Substitutions - Michael Marshall Smith – 3* – The final image is pretty intriguing but all the monotonous introspective build-up where the author tries to explain every single movement of the protagonist’s psyche is killing it for me. Susie - Jason Van Hollander – 3,5*

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Anderson

    The dates that show when I read this are misleading. It actually took me months to finish this anthology. As it seems to be with the last few books I've read, this one sat around on my shelf for a long time while I went on to read bigger and better novels and collections. Yes, this Lovecraft inspired anthology is perhaps one of (if not THE) weakest ones I've had the misfortune of having to read. S.T. Joshi is like the John Joseph Adams of Cthulhu collections; he values style over substance and l The dates that show when I read this are misleading. It actually took me months to finish this anthology. As it seems to be with the last few books I've read, this one sat around on my shelf for a long time while I went on to read bigger and better novels and collections. Yes, this Lovecraft inspired anthology is perhaps one of (if not THE) weakest ones I've had the misfortune of having to read. S.T. Joshi is like the John Joseph Adams of Cthulhu collections; he values style over substance and lets his supposed "expert" status cloud his judgement when selecting short stories. There's 21 short stories here and one would think that that would leave a lot of options for great reading and new takes on the cosmic horror that is Cthulhu, Unfortunately, the anthology's title is one of the most misleading in recent times as most of the tales in Black Wings border on either the ridiculously obscure of Lovecraft's work, or (and more often) plod along at a snails pace, never presenting anything exciting. Very few even remotely mention Cthulhu or any of the other Elder Gods. That wouldn't necessarily be an issue if the stories that Joshi collected here were good. It's true there were about half a dozen or so that I liked (my favorites being "Lesser Demons" by Norman Partridge and "The Dome" by Mollie Burleson), yet everything else managed to either put me to sleep or piss me off. I was bored to tears through most of these, finding nothing redeeming or worth remembering. "Tempting Providence" was an exercise in impatience while "Engravings" was one in anger. I couldn't even get through 3 pages of "Violence, Child of Trust" and, because I can't stand his slow and clunky writing, completely skipped Ramsey Campbell's "Correspondence". And of course, what anthology wouldn't be complete and almost ruined without a crappy story from Pugmire? Simply put, there are so many better anthologies in this genre. Both Lockhart's Book of Cthulhu, and World War Cthulhu are much better examples of how authors have kept the Cthulhu mythos alive. Black Wings of Cthulhu, on the other hand, makes the whole Lovecraft inspired sub-genre, seem boring by comparison. Do yourself a favor and skip this 500 page bore. You'll feel better about it later.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brian Sammons

    My full review of this pretty darn good collection of Cthulhu Mythos stories can be found here: http://theunspeakableoath.com/home/?p...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    ****Pickman's Other Model by Caitlin R. Kiernan: This answers a few questions I didn't even know I had, regarding the ghoul changelings from Pickman's Model who were left with human families. Nicely done. ***Desert Dreams by Donald R. Burleson: Interesting premise (I especially liked that part where the protagonist discovered unexpected beauty where he was anticipating a total nightmare), but in the end it was just too vague to really hit home. ***Engravings by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.: Once again, interesting enough premise (****Pickman's Other Model by Caitlin R. Kiernan: This answers a few questions I didn't even know I had, regarding the ghoul changelings from Pickman's Model who were left with human families. Nicely done. ***Desert Dreams by Donald R. Burleson: Interesting premise (I especially liked that part where the protagonist discovered unexpected beauty where he was anticipating a total nightmare), but in the end it was just too vague to really hit home. ***Engravings by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.: Once again, interesting enough premise ((view spoiler)[that the devil has been watching over someone all his life solely for the purpose of sacrificing him later (hide spoiler)] ), but featuring the kind of character I'm really not interested in reading about and for whatever reason the writing style didn't really grab me. ***Copping Squid by Michael Shea: Good use of atmosphere and good buildup of tension, but... eh, didn't really grab me. ****Passing Spirits by Sam Gafford: I do like the metaficitonal aspect, and how Lovecraft's cosmic horror is played off of and blended with the real life horrors of fighting a deadly disease and being unable to afford the treatment. The ending of the story was also very fitting. ****The Broadsword by Laird Barron: This one really conveys Barron's signature sense of the incomprehensible, visceral, and malicious alien. While Laird Barron no doubt draws his inspiration from Lovecraft, I find it much easier to believe when reading his stories than I do reading Lovecraft's that the alien entities are actually scary. An excellent portrayal of the horrific encroaching upon the mundane. ****Usurped by William Browning Spencer: The best kind of horror is the one where the author neither gets lost in vague proclamations of "It was too horrible for words!" nor wastes ink describing every meticulous detail of the monster, but rather portrays a more ordinary situation in which something is nevertheless subtly, disturbingly off. The use of the wasps and various other animals was an especially nice touch. ****Denker's Book by David J. Schow: Now that is how you do a proper horror apocalypse. I really liked the line about how it's impossible to put the blame on any one man; the Earth is simply evolving, and it is not for us anymore. ***Inhabitants of Wraithwood by W. H. Pugmire: A fine idea, but it was so obvious about where it was going it kind of ruined the suspense. ***The Dome by Mollie L. Burleson: Once again, a nice creepy premise, but there just wasn't enough time taken to build up the proper atmosphere. ***Rotterdam by Nicholas Royle: I guess it was a good premise and it had some really nice atmosphere, but this is one of those weird instances where I found the ending to be a little too upsetting. There's just a degree of real-world violence that I do not want to see in my cosmic horror, and a drunken murder of a professional rival, especially of someone we'd already gotten to know as a person, is pretty close to the top of that list. ****Tempting Providence by Jonathan Thomas: Ooh, a very nice take on "The Haunter of the Dark" and on finding that one's fandom has suddenly become all too real. I liked the sleuthing, the slow-burn realization that something was seriously off, and the frequently used metaphor of an angler baiting a fish. If I have one complaint, it's that the editing is poor, and the body of the text is riddled with missing words and punctuation: Trembling Justin drew flashlight from belt holster and asked meekly, and sympathetically he hoped, "Can I help you?" According to bedside digital clock, it was earlier than he thought. ****Howling in the Dark by Darrell Schweitzer: Excellent depiction of not just fearing the incomprehensible alien, but yearning to become it. Especially poignant was the part where the narrator was right on the verge of becoming one with the darkness, but was ultimately unable to shed that last little vestige of his humanity. ****The Truth About Pickman by Brian Stableford: Good buildup of atmosphere, and also a nice twist from what I thought the ending was going to be. ****Tunnels by Philip Haldeman: Also good atmosphere, and genuinely scary too, especially as it's told from the perspective of a child. The author made the right choice in never actually showing the monsters in their entirety, but only ever letting us get glimpses enough to rattle the imagination. *****The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash by Ramsey Campbell: Nice job mixing a little real-life horror in with the cosmic horror. It definitely doesn't miss its target on the subject of celebrity stalking. At first it's all completely innocent (albeit more than a little hero-worshippy): "I'm your biggest fan!" "I wrote something that's supposed to be just like what you wrote, would you please please pleeeeeeeeaaaaaase look it over?" Then, the entitled whining begins: "Your stories aren't pandering to what I want, therefore they're drivel!" "You STOLE my ideas!" "Oh, you claim you didn't get that 500-page manuscript I sent you in the mail? You lost it on purpose, didn't you?" Then, when the object of stalker-fanboy's fixation stops handing him validation and possibly (not to mention sensibly) stops replying to him altogether, stalker-fanboy loses his shit. The starry-eyed idolatry of his earlier letters is nowhere to be seen. Instead, he opens every letter with childish name-calling, attacks Lovecraft's contemporaries, rips apart every one of his stories just to make sure the author personally sees it, makes personal threats, and generally goes full-blown obsessive entitlement. "YOU COPIED MY WORK!" "All of your stories are trash!" "You have no imagination!" "After this letter I'm never writing to you again, I REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME!" The fact that his apparent contact with the occult is only a secondary concern speaks volumes to the effectiveness of the way that toxic fandom is portrayed. (Though I did get a definite laugh out of the line, "Can you dream of nothing except tentacles?") ***Violence, Child of Trust by Michael Cisco: It's a chilling portrayal of human sacrifice at its heart, but that way that it's written is just too vague and confusing. I could barely figure out what was actually going on. ****Lesser Demons by Norman Partridge: I hate zombie stories... but I love it when people write an apocalypse with monsters that are significantly more creative and actually scary. ***An Eldritch Matter by Adam Niswander: Horrifying premise, but in the end it was just a little too over the top to be genuinely scary. ***Substitution by Michael Marshall Smith: "(view spoiler)[My neighbor eats raw meat (hide spoiler)] " is not exactly a premise that makes me quake in my boots. ****Susie by Jason van Hollander: Was this supposed to be about Lovecraft's mother? Interesting, if so.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell Woods

    Three stars is my way of giving this book two ratings. Some of the stories would earn four stars from me on their own. Most of them hardly deserve two. To me, Lovecraftian horror is a creeping gloom that numbs the mind rather than exciting the flesh. It's the compassionless abyss of an uncharted universe. It's the sea of formless abominations seen swimming in your vitreous humor just before waking on a dark morning. It's the invisible machines which orchestrate every thought and deed, yet which Three stars is my way of giving this book two ratings. Some of the stories would earn four stars from me on their own. Most of them hardly deserve two. To me, Lovecraftian horror is a creeping gloom that numbs the mind rather than exciting the flesh. It's the compassionless abyss of an uncharted universe. It's the sea of formless abominations seen swimming in your vitreous humor just before waking on a dark morning. It's the invisible machines which orchestrate every thought and deed, yet which the human mind for all its pride is incapable of comprehending. I'm not saying it's particularly easy to pull off this mood in a short story, but a lot of the stories in here missed the mark completely. For the benefit of prospective readers, the stories I that I felt conveyed the genre best were Desert Dreams, Engravings, The Broadsword, Usurped, Howling in the Dark, Tunnels, Lesser Demons, and Susie. I would also recommend Passing Spirits; it isn't actually Lovecraftian horror, and the cliché set up would normally be far too damning, but the story is written and framed well enough that I feel it's worth a read anyway. Copping Squid also came admirably close to getting cosmic horror right; it's a good story that just falls a bit short in the mood department. I could also imagine it being considered casually racist, but my capacity to perceive that sort of thing is not very strong. It would be true to form for Lovecraft. Your results may vary. Otherwise, there is nothing I would call quality reading in the book. Problems range from being trite, to not being creepy or disturbing, to protagonists whose narration was just too repugnant to sit through (Rotterdam and Inhabitants of Wraithwood come to mind). I shortly learned to skip any story that contained the words "Pickman" or "Lovecraft", although if you did not find the former's debut story to be as uninteresting as I did, you may disagree. For my part, if all I wanted were references to Lovecraft or his work, I would just re-read the Colour Out of Space or some of my other favorites.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Raymond

    As a fan of all things Lovecrafty, a new anthology of Mythos short fiction curated by ST Joshi, the leading Lovecraftian scholar was very exciting. As someone who doesn't really love short fiction, and has found a lot of the mythos short story collections wanting, I was a little ambivalent about trying yet another one. The good news, overall, is that Black Wings of Cthulhu is good. It's not superlative by any means, but it's not a disaster like many of the other compilations I've As a fan of all things Lovecrafty, a new anthology of Mythos short fiction curated by ST Joshi, the leading Lovecraftian scholar was very exciting. As someone who doesn't really love short fiction, and has found a lot of the mythos short story collections wanting, I was a little ambivalent about trying yet another one. The good news, overall, is that Black Wings of Cthulhu is good. It's not superlative by any means, but it's not a disaster like many of the other compilations I've read. It's good, and that's a good thing. The problem with the book in a nutshell might be the use of the more cosmic aspects as well as the unseen madness. This is partly because of my preferences: my favorite stories in the book included ones where we could actually experience the horror first hand with the protagonists of the story (like in the tales involving the woman who bought meat, or the man who picked up the tentacled coin). The stories I enjoyed the least were much more abstract. This didn't mean that those stories were necessarily failures, but more that they may not have been as interesting as perhaps they could have been. This isn't to say that any of them come close to the eye-rolling tendencies some Mythos stories I've read have had (such as the "Cthulhu is in my computer modem" story I read some time ago), but too many of the stories in this collection ended about as softly as they began, with little to stick with. Overall, the book is what it is. It's definitely worth picking up if you're a hardcore Mythos fan, because there's enough good (along with the stories up top, Laird Barron's story is predictably superlative, and there are at least 3 or 4 others that are quite solid) to go along with the not-so-good, and the stories are almost all short enough where you won't be making a major investment of time or energy if you dislike a handful.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    This book is actually more of a 3.5 stars. I had not read Lovecraft before piling into this book, but as I have started to go through some of his better known stories since beginning the volume, it has grown on me even more. The stories are relatively diverse and take up the "Lovecraftian" themes loosely, so you have a few stories that are period pieces, some with aliens, some with Cthulhu-like creatures, and a lot of dread and madness. The stories in general focus heavily in the "painting the p This book is actually more of a 3.5 stars. I had not read Lovecraft before piling into this book, but as I have started to go through some of his better known stories since beginning the volume, it has grown on me even more. The stories are relatively diverse and take up the "Lovecraftian" themes loosely, so you have a few stories that are period pieces, some with aliens, some with Cthulhu-like creatures, and a lot of dread and madness. The stories in general focus heavily in the "painting the picture" direction rather than being filled with fast-paced twists, and there are several that you can tell are for "hardcore" Lovecraftian horror fans that almost feel academic in their approach. Others are real gems, and there are a few standout stories that elevate the volume even further. Substitution, Lesser Demons, The Broadsword, Copping Squid, and Usurped are all top notch and worth the volume. Other stories, like Desert Dreams and the Dome, are partial successes, and really more in setting the mood than anything else. A lot of the older period stories were hit and miss, and again much more about descriptions that true horror, a subtle dread that is supposed to set in(though often doesn't). The volume was good enough that I have checked in with other Lovecraftian anthologies, including the second Black Wings book. There are no Cthulhu mythos tales in this book, but if you enjoy those there is a lot that touches on the same characterization and themes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ian Robinson

    An excellent collection of contemporary Lovecraftian horror. Part of the charm of Lovecraft was the period setting - the horror of his time was less about blood n guts than about spiritual and psychological terror; the regular, often somewhat academic, gentleman encountering something bizarre or inexplicable that led him to have a glimpse of the true nature of the universe and the horror of humanity's minuscule part in it. In this collection, the setting is modern day. people range from the acad An excellent collection of contemporary Lovecraftian horror. Part of the charm of Lovecraft was the period setting - the horror of his time was less about blood n guts than about spiritual and psychological terror; the regular, often somewhat academic, gentleman encountering something bizarre or inexplicable that led him to have a glimpse of the true nature of the universe and the horror of humanity's minuscule part in it. In this collection, the setting is modern day. people range from the academic sorts of the Lovecraft era, to drifters, criminals, artists, the utterly normal suburban husband. Several of the tales directly reference classic Lovecraft stories, some even feature old HP himself, as a haunting, a resurrection, a reincarnation. I admit when this plot element became clear, I was a bit disappointed in some of them, but overall it did make for an interesting twist on the mythos. A great collection, and great to read the mythos in the modern world. Now reading volume 2.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Finooola

    Usually a collection of short stories such as this will get 3 stars, no matter how much I like it. Naturally no matter how good a collection of stories is, there will be differences in quality between the stories and indeed, different ones will click more or less with different readers. This book was really, really excellent. All the stories were wonderfully Lovecraftian in different ways (but mercifully, as Joshi the editor mentions in his introduction, don't try to mimic his style) and the tal Usually a collection of short stories such as this will get 3 stars, no matter how much I like it. Naturally no matter how good a collection of stories is, there will be differences in quality between the stories and indeed, different ones will click more or less with different readers. This book was really, really excellent. All the stories were wonderfully Lovecraftian in different ways (but mercifully, as Joshi the editor mentions in his introduction, don't try to mimic his style) and the tales go from creepy and atmospheric, to downright horrible and violent, to humourous. It took me a long time to get through the book since it was too big to drag on my commute so it was my bedside book for the last few months. It gave me some weird dreams, I tell ya! Anyway, this is highly recommended to fans of weird fiction. And I see there is a volume 2. I would actually have given it 5 stars, but I would have felt churlish marking it higher than some of Lovecraft's own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    One of the best Lovecraft-themed anthologies I have seen: the stories are smart and varied and tend toward actual cosmic chills rather than just throwing out references to Cthulhu and R'lyeh. Some actually use Lovecraft, or shades thereof, as a character; "Passing Spirits," by Sam Gafford, did an especially good job of this, though it was more funny (and ultimately touching) than macabre. Michael Shea's "Copping Squid," though, was genuinely frightening, as was Michael Cisco's "Violence, Child o One of the best Lovecraft-themed anthologies I have seen: the stories are smart and varied and tend toward actual cosmic chills rather than just throwing out references to Cthulhu and R'lyeh. Some actually use Lovecraft, or shades thereof, as a character; "Passing Spirits," by Sam Gafford, did an especially good job of this, though it was more funny (and ultimately touching) than macabre. Michael Shea's "Copping Squid," though, was genuinely frightening, as was Michael Cisco's "Violence, Child of Trust." Anyone who has known Providence and laments the loss of some of its classic landmarks should read "Tempting Providence" by Jonathan Thomas--but really, all of these stories are worth reading.

  28. 5 out of 5

    GracieKat

    A pretty great anthology of stories related to Lovecraft by them but not derivative of his works. I was a little leery having just read Searchers After Horror, also edited by S.T. Joshi, which I only enjoyed about half of. Plus, I'm not too big a fan of Joshi as it is. But the stories were great and I enjoyed it very much. I bought the second volume right away and only lack of funds had kept me from buying the third yet. When I have a little more time I will do a more in-depth review sto A pretty great anthology of stories related to Lovecraft by them but not derivative of his works. I was a little leery having just read Searchers After Horror, also edited by S.T. Joshi, which I only enjoyed about half of. Plus, I'm not too big a fan of Joshi as it is. But the stories were great and I enjoyed it very much. I bought the second volume right away and only lack of funds had kept me from buying the third yet. When I have a little more time I will do a more in-depth review story by story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marko

    A great collection of stories Lovecraftian in nature. Even those not connected directly with Mythos radiate that particular shade of uneasiness and understated dread that I associate with Lovecraft's own work. Admittedly, some stories are pretty weak and unimpressive. There are a couple of those that start strongly, but fail to live to the expectation. And then there are those that are truly unsettling, and whose scenes and motives get stuck in your head for a long time. But altogethe A great collection of stories Lovecraftian in nature. Even those not connected directly with Mythos radiate that particular shade of uneasiness and understated dread that I associate with Lovecraft's own work. Admittedly, some stories are pretty weak and unimpressive. There are a couple of those that start strongly, but fail to live to the expectation. And then there are those that are truly unsettling, and whose scenes and motives get stuck in your head for a long time. But altogether, it's definitely worth your while.

  30. 5 out of 5

    The Artificer

    First off let me say that I very much enjoyed this collection. While I personally find Joshi to be overly smug to the point where I actively avoid reading his critiques, he has put together a splendid collection of Weird Fiction; which sort of also highlights the one issue with it. The title is rather misleading, "Black Wings of Cthulhu: Twenty One Tales of Lovecraftian Horror" would tend to imply that the majority of the stories are either ABOUT Cthulhu or, at the very least, Lovecraftian; First off let me say that I very much enjoyed this collection. While I personally find Joshi to be overly smug to the point where I actively avoid reading his critiques, he has put together a splendid collection of Weird Fiction; which sort of also highlights the one issue with it. The title is rather misleading, "Black Wings of Cthulhu: Twenty One Tales of Lovecraftian Horror" would tend to imply that the majority of the stories are either ABOUT Cthulhu or, at the very least, Lovecraftian; which many of these are not.

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