In Cthulhu Lives!, editor Salomé Jones brings together many stories for Ghostwoods Books that fall under the vast cyclopean umbrella that is the Cthulhu Mythos. The stories range from straightforward horror stories to epistolary fiction and everything in between. If that isn’t cool enough, how does an afterward by S.T. Joshi sound? Pretty bad ass, I know.
This eldritch tribute to the dolichocephalic Rhode Island author contains seventeen skillfully written tales. They are all, in some way, connected to Lovecraft’s magnificent opus—if not overtly, then through insidiously wending fungoid hyphae that connect the larger ideas or plots with the lodestone of cosmic horror. All of those great elements we know and cherish are present: Yawning gulphs, deformed humans, chimaeras, forbidden knowledge, eerie cults from antiquity, desperate hopelessness, and the comfort of madness when that which should be left unknown is delved into too deeply.
It is not uncommon to find endless shelves lined with books advertising themselves as anthologies or novels embracing the fabulous tapestry which Lovecraft wove, only to read another dull yarn about gargantuan pseudocephalopods. Surely, it is this genre that supports the thesaurus industry. Everything is Cthulhu this, Cthulhu that, completely disregarding the large pantheon created by Lovecraft in his dark oeuvre.
Most of the time, it’s just an excuse to use an unnecessary amount of adjectives in a melodramatic story about a quirky guy driven mad after probing through the rank membrane of reality. The setting is always vaguely Victorian, rife with incongruously archaic words and expressions. No women, no outer space, no time travel, nothing interesting or novel.
In Cthulhu Lives!, we find a large variety of characters in a truly varied amount of circumstances, facing everything one can imagine from Lovecraftia. Furthermore, these are all stories that are set in various moments in history, even the present. In fact, most take place in the present. A sense of immediacy and relevance pervades every story, using elements such as computers, the internet, world governments, and emerging science.
It is not just the world Howard Phillips Lovecraft created; it is Lovecraft’s world in our world.
Alien horrors lurk in every corner. Terror is as mundane as any occurrence in our world; just another event in the infinite expanse of timespace. In some stories, these ghastly phantasies are the personal nightmare of one or two people. For others, however, the apocalyptic catastrophe becomes immense and totally destructive, affecting every corner of the world—possibly the entire universe.
Jones has adroitly put together an anthology that satisfies any fan of Lovecraft. If you are a fan of his, or even if you’re generally a fan of good horror, pick yourself up a copy. Cthulhu Lives! is very much worth it.