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Thread: H.P. Lovecraft
May 21st, 2007, 10:25 AM #31
Best Lovecraft stories
I have read most (maybe all) of HPL's original work. I know that there are a lot of other authors that have (a) built on HPL's work and/or (b) taken it into different directions (e.g. elementalism).
Can I get some of your esteemed opinions as to where to best go next to continue in the mythos? Should I go with some of HPL's contemporaries that corresponded with him or go with a more modern interpretation (e.g. Lumely or others)
I looked back at least 5 pages for a similar topic. If I missed one that is similar to this thread kindly let me know and I'll go there first.
May 22nd, 2007, 10:23 AM #32
This book will give you a taste of most of the Mythos authors. There's some Derleth, Brian Lumley, Clark Ashton Smith and others. It's a pretty good book.
May 22nd, 2007, 11:32 AM #33
Of Lovecraft's contemporaries who wrote in the mythos, Clark Ashton Smith is the most similar, with very florid prose and tongue-twisting vocabulary. Those guys must have used the same Thesaurus or something
May 26th, 2007, 09:54 AM #34
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Lovecraft-like works I enjoyed:
Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos ed. by Ramsey Campbell
It's been far too long since I read this to say much useful about it. I do recall Stephen King's "Crouch End" since I reread it just last year; while CE isn't great, it's an entertaining story. I've also reread T. E. D. Klein's "Black Man with a Horn" once or twice since then, and it's one of the finest Lovecraftian stories I've ever read, with an emotional kick beyond the "Boo" that elevates it to one of my favorite horror stories. As for the book as a whole, I certainly enjoyed it when I was in my late teens or early 20s.
"Fat Face" & "The Autopsy" by Michael Shea:
The former is directly related to HPL's Mythos which was fine, but I didn't like as much as the latter. The latter feels more like John W. Campbell inspired it as much as HPL, but it is a harrowing and tense horror story.
Books I've only partially read:
Cold Print by Ramsey Campbell:
Campbell was first published in his teens by August Derleth at Arkham House. This starts with a couple of those old stories to indicate how slavishly imitative he was -- it's hard to tell what Derleth saw in him. The first of mature Lovecraftian stories, the titular story, comes next and you can easily see how far he came as a writer. Some of his later Lovecraftian work is as good as any written to date. Campbell is one of the strongest writers ever to write horror fiction.
The Children of Cthulhu ed. by John Pelan:
I've only read a couple, one by Matt Cardin ("Teeth") and one by Caitlin Kiernan (can't recall the title). Both were excellent. I really need to pull this out and read more.
Shadows Over Baker Street ed. by John Pelan:
What if the Lovecraftian universe had been recognized earlier, the Mythos entities appearing during the lifetime of Sherlock Holmes? The Neil Gaiman story is fine. The other three I read were entertaining. Probably this is good reading when you don't want to think too hard.
Divinations of the Deep by Matt Cardin:
Collection of stories more inspired by Thomas Ligotti than by HPL, but I read and commented on one (“Judas of the Infinite”) before publication and it inspires a similar sort of "cosmic awe" to HPL's work. (Yes, I'm bragging, but I bear in mind that Matt didn't use any of my suggestions and got published anyway.) (By the way, I don't believe the above mentioned "Teeth" is in this one.)
Haven't read, but look forward to,
The Atrocity Archives by Charlie Stross
A Len Deighton spy novel enmeshed in a Lovecraftian universe. Supposedly great good fun.
Read but didn't care for,
Derleth wrote some fine ghost stories, but wielded Lovecraft's Mythos with a ham-hand. He tended toward making the entities elementals, which was either a misreading on his part, or an attempt to house-break the Mythos into more nearly Christian terms.
The Burrowers Beneath & The Transition of Titus Crow by Brian Lumley
The first wasn't bad, but in the second humanity proves more or less capable of dealing with the Lovecraftian entities. Blah. Lumley is an okay writer, but the sort of attention to atmosphere that you expect from HPL isn't apparent in these books.
Dagon by Fred Chapell
Picked this up mainly on the strength of a Karl Edward Wagner blurb. It was very well-written, but I didn't think the story went anywhere, the connection to HPL tenuous at best, and subjugating the Lovecraftian entity (though HPL drafted Dagon from the Bible and, I believe, the beliefs of the Philistines) to Christian just didn't work for me. (Read Cardin's "Judas of the Infinite" for a curative.)
In Chappell's defense, in his fantasy story collection, More Shapes than One, he includes two fine stories inspired by HPL. The first, "The Adder," is comic and scary all at once. The second, "Weird Tales," uses HPL as a protagonist without overtly pulling in Mythos tropes. Another story, "Linneus Forgets," while more like the 19th century European fantasy of an E.T.A. Hoffman or Nathaniel Hawthorne, still evokes some of the wonder that I felt as a kid first reading HPL's fantasies.
Lateral to Lovecraft:
Zothique by Clark Ashton Smith:
No tenebrous, eldritch or squamous tentacled monstrosities that I can recall (well, maybe a cameo, but I'm a bit hazy on details), but a series of short stories sharing the titular setting, giving a well-rounded view of the degeneracy of the Earth in its fading days when magic has returned and necromancers rule. “The Dark Eidolon,” included in this collection, is justly one of his best known stories, but there are others nearly as powerful.
The Throne of Bones by Brian MacNaughton:
More inspired by Smith than by HPL, but if you read and like Zothique, you'll want to check this out. Features ghouls in ways that illuminate the characters of the humans. A fine collection, the core of which is a suite of stories connected by time, place and recurring characters.
I haven't read a lot of his work, all of which is in short forms, but from what I've read I have no trouble calling him the real deal: A horror writer more interested in inspiring awe than terror, though the two are rather intertwined in his writing. As a father, "The Frolic" creeped me out; "Les Fleurs" was only a bit less creepy. "Teatro Grotesco" is strange and surreal. And while I wasn't impressed with "Conversations in a Dead Language,” which seemed like a psychological profile that could have been written by most any good writer, “My Case for Retributive Action” seems to follow a similar line but is rather more distinctive. Anyway, Ligotti is a writer I keep reminding myself I need to read more of. The Nightmare Factory would be the best bang for your buck, but it's become a rare book to find. The Shadow at the Bottom of the World is, by all accounts I've heard, a good sampler.
May 30th, 2007, 08:18 AM #35
I think August Derleth pretty much destroyed the original idea of the mythos.
He tried to turn something that was strange, alien and incomprehensible into something with a fixed set of rules. Yog Sothoth would have a 3rd cousin twice removed in Cthulhu or something equaly weird.
May 30th, 2007, 03:48 PM #36
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Thought of another book:
The Feesters in the Lake by Bob Leman.
Not easy to find, probably, and may be expensive if you do; might try Inter-Library Loan. Leman only wrote enough stories in his lifetime to fill this one volume. He was profoundly influenced by HPL, though more in content and aim than style. He doesn't create cosmic awe all that much, either, but he does create a sense of unease. He reads like someone who had read a fair amount of Heinlein and Eric Frank Russell and Clifford Simak along with HPL.
June 1st, 2007, 08:57 AM #37
Thanks for all of the suggestions. I ordered Tales and based on how much I like some of the authors I'll dive deeper as well as into some of the others mentioned.
July 9th, 2007, 11:37 AM #38
August 3rd, 2007, 11:07 AM #39
OK, I just finished Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. That's my fault for reading 4 books at the same time.
It was great. Thanks to all you recommended it. TOTCM did a great job in showing me the different styles of other authors picking up where HPL left off.
I just got Children of Cthulhu and will start that after I have finished the other 3 and some others.
August 3rd, 2007, 11:21 AM #40
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That's good, devils... if you ever wanted a one-book Lovecraft collection 'for keeps', then the fairly recently published (2005) Library of America edition Lovecraft Tales,
edited by Peter Straub, would be recommended by me. Nice little hardback edition, 850 pages and it's own bookmark.
Pleased you're enjoying that 'otherworldliness'. Keep up the good work.