Saturday, September 24, 2016

Short Fiction... Saturday: Children of Lovecraft ed by Ellen Datlow

Happy Saturday, readers! I hope you all had a fabulous reading week - I know I did. Sort of. After forcing myself to DNF a current YA darling (which was admittedly good, when I could get to it), I decided to treat myself to some shorts. I was a good decision as this was definitely one of those weeks where manuscripts, other work stuff, and general blah-ness left me in need of short, punchy reads. And boy did I get what I asked for.

I've sung Ellen Datlow's praises here quite a bit. Behind the scenes, because I haven't talked much about it yet, I've been reading A LOT of Lovecraft inspired works. Tor.com has THREE new or upcoming novellas in this vein (in addition to Victor Lavalle's release from earlier this year). And hubs recently treated me to three Innsmouth inspired collections as well. So I'm absolutely steeped in Lovecraft - or rather Lovecraft-inspired reads these days.

BTW, if you're interested you should check out this fabulous interview with Kij Johnson, Cassandra Khaw, and Ruthanna Emrys about their new novellas, Lovecraft, etc here.

So, back to topic. Datlow has done Lovecraft before, but when I saw that it was the topic of her newest anthology (timely!) I immediately had to have it. I know by now that I can count on Datlow for a fabulously cultivated collection of weird tales by authors I either already love or will come to!

Children of Lovecraft was, of course, no exception. The premise of the anthology is this: the authors were tasked with writing Lovecraft-inspired shorts using, as Datlow states, the best of Lovecraft, while also exploring new themes and horrors. And boy did the authors to just that! From the Dust Bowl to a tale inspired by Boulder's recent epic flood, most of the stories don't explicitly use any Lovecraft specific creations - Cthulu, etc - but instead are imbued with the eerie and terrifying ambiance of Lovecraft. And yes, plenty of bizarre creations and creatures as well!

Here's the full TOC:

"Nesters" by Siobhan Carroll
"Little Ease" by Gemma Files
"Eternal Troutland" by Stephen Graham Jones
"The Supplement" by John Langan
"Mortensen's Muse" by Orrin Grey
"Oblivion Mode" by Laird Barron
"Mr. Doornail" by Maria Dahvana Headley
"The Secrets of Insects" by Richard Kadrey
"Excerpts from An Eschatology Quadrille" by Caitlin R. Kiernan
"Jules and Richard" by David Nickel
"Glasses" by Brian Evenson
"When the Stitches Come Undone" by A. C. Wise
"On These Blackened Shores of Time" by Brian Hodge
"Bright Crown of Joy" by Livia Llewellyn

A few of my personal favorites include Siobhan Carroll's "Nesters" - a truly creepy tale made more so by being set during the desperation of the Dust Bowl, Richard Kadrey's procedural-esque "The Secrets of Insects," A. C. Wise's gory and disturbing "When the Stitches Come Undone," Brian Hodge's "On These Blackened Shores of Time" the aforementioned Boulder flood inspired tale (set in Pennsylvania mining country), and Brian Evenson's "Glasses" - oh, Brian Evenson's "Glasses"! This was kind of a delightful one - a bit of comic relief, so to speak, amidst what could be a quite unsettling collection!

In truth, though, I quite enjoyed the whole anthology. It is a perfect one to treat yourself to if you're craving weird and scary! And probably the best part, you don't have to know Lovecraft at all to enjoy it. You do have to love horror, though.

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