Black Wings of Cthulhu (Volume One) Paperback
Edited by S. T. Joshi
In this title, the modern masters of Lovecraftian horror offer up to 21 brand-new, utterly horrifying tales taking their inspiration from stories by Lovecraft himself.
Well-known writers such as Caitlin R. Kiernan, Brian Stableford, and Ramsey Campbell delve deep into the psyche to terrify and entertain.
Editor S.T. Joshi has assembled a star-studded line-up essential for every horror library.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 512 pages
- Publisher: Titan Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 01/03/2012
- Category: Anthologies (non-poetry)
- ISBN: 9780857687821
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by Shimmin
It seems Joshi and I have very different understandings of the term "Lovecraftian story".Broadly speaking, I feel that Lovecraft's stories include the following traits, to a varying degree: weird events or situations, whose hidden truths are revealed by the protagonists; dense, gothic writing that emphasises atmosphere over plot, but still follows a definite story progression to a distinct end; by the end of the story, the reader understands what has been going on. They also touch on some themes (the importance of imagination, the insignificance of humanity before the universe, corruption, maintaining a futile candlelight against the dreadfulness beyond our ken) and strike a fairly serious mood.This book offers a wide variety of stories, all of which touch on some of these issues, but many of which deviate so strongly that I can't honestly consider them Lovecraftian. To my mind, "Lovecraftian" writing should be really quite close to that of Lovecraft, in the same way that a story isn't Wodehousian simply by featuring young Edwardians or pig-stealing. I don't mean they need to be a pastiche, but there need to be many points of similarity. Otherwise, the term "Cthulhu Mythos" seems more appropriate.Several of the stories are very literary and artsy in style, full of metaphor and ambiguous writing, but a big departure from Lovecraft. These also tend not to feature very clear plots, with the reader left to try and puzzle out what might have been going on. A couple are fairly lucid supernatural stories, but not very close to Lovecraft either in themes, genre or the nature of the supernatural within them. There are several twist endings, which Lovecraft studiously avoided to concentrate on atmosphere. The chief problem is that these departures often combine, leaving you with stories that have only a tenuous claim to Lovecraftianism. A couple seem to have been included on the bizarre strength of mentioning HP Lovecraft, rather than any intrinsic property of the stories. There were only a handful that I feel comfortable categorising as Lovecraftian.The range of stories in this book will mean that most people who want something Lovecraftian can probably find a few that suit their taste. If you have a very broad palate, you may enjoy most of them. Personally, I have no time for literary fiction and little for very artsy writing, and found several stories annoying, while a couple of others I simply thought were bad. However, there were also some very compelling stories I was delighted to read. The overall score represents my take on the whole collection.Also worth noting: as sadly traditional for Lovecraft, women are pretty few and far between. There's one female protagonist (Susie, although she's less a protagonist and more a literary device, to be honest) and I don't think any of them would pass the Bechdel test. My highlights: Copping Squid; Tempting Providence; Desert Dreams; The Broadsword; The DomeAlso ran: Tunnels, Howling in the Dark; Usurped; Substitution; Lesser DemonsNot particularly my thing: Pickman's Other Model; The Truth about Pickman; Passing Spirits; Inhabitants of Wraithwood; Denker's Book; SusieUnimpressed: Engraving, The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash; Violence, Child of Trust; An Eldritch MatterNo seriously, what?: Rotterdam
Review by allyshaw
Standout stories from Laird Barron, Norman Partridge, Michael Marshall Smith and Jason Van Hollander. But why there are only two women authors included, and of the stories there are no women protagonists at all, which made the collection really lopsided and ultimately disappointing.
Review by aadyer
A mixed bag, as with all anthologies, but a good introduction by S t Joshi. Some of this was very, very good, especially the last fifth, but some was diabolical (pun intended). My overall rating refers to an average of all the stories individual ratings which I kept a record of. Overall, good, but no cigar.