Pyrate Cthulhu Vol. 2 (Cthulhu Anthology #5) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Pyrate Cthulhu Vol. 2
Series: Cthulhu Anthology #5
Editor: Pyrate Press
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Weird Fiction
Pages: 194
Words: 74K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

Out of the Jar by Charles R. Tunner (1941)

Bothon by Henry S. Whitehead & H.P. Lovecraft (1946)

Something From Out There by August Derleth (1951)

Confession in Darkness by Gerald W. Page (1979)

Jendick’s Swamp by Joseph Payne Brennan (1987)

The Big Fish by Kim Newman (1993)

The Vicar of R’lyeh by Marc Laidlaw (2007)

Dark Blue by Alan Dean Foster (2007)

Copping Squid by Michael Sea (2009)

Crawlin’ Chaos Blues by Edward M. Erdelac (2010)

The Nyarlathotep Event by Jonathan Wood (2011)

My Thoughts:

After the success I had with Vol. 1 of Pyrate Cthulhu, my expectations were pretty high. You might say I had Great Expectations for this second volume. Sadly, just like Pip, my expectations were completely dashed and oblivionated (that’s what happens in Cthulhu-land).

Nothing was actually bad, but the magic I felt in the first volume was completely lacking. It was like Pyrate Press took all of the best stories and released them in Vol 1 and then all the leftovers they made a cash grab with a second volume.

None of these stories really grabbed me. They kept me entertained, but so does Spongebob. Oh man, wouldn’t a cosmic horror version of Spongebob be awesome? And the franchise already has Squidward too! Sigh, I’m just chockful of good ideas sometimes. So there was a lack of “something” to these stories. I can’t really describe it, but when I read a story with “it”, I know it. It’s like eating a pizza without oregano. The lack of it, once you’ve had it, is more powerful than having it. That’s what I felt like these stories were, a pizza without oregano.

I tried to find out some more about Pyrate Press, but apparently they only edited these 2 collections and that was it. No website, no twitter, no nothing, that I could find in 10minutes of searching on the internet. Even “I’m” easier to find than them (not that I’m trying to hide myself, but you get the idea).

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pyrate Cthulhu Vol. 1 (Cthulhu Anthology #4) ★★★★✬

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Pyrate Cthulhu Vol. 1
Series: Cthulhu Anthology #4
Editor: Pyrate Press
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Cosmic Horror
Pages: 221
Words: 77K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

The Swelling by David Conyers

The Disciple by David Barr Kirtley

A Colder War by Charles Stross

The Ghoulish Wife by Kevin L. O’Brien

The Last Horror Out of Arkham by Darrel Schweitzer

Harold’s Blues by Glen Singer

Documents in the Case of Elizabeth Akeley by Richard A. Lupoff

The Plague Jar by Allen Mackey

The Dead Man’s Hand by Jason Andrew

A Little Job in Arkham by John Sunseri

In His Daughter’s Darkling Womb by Tina L. Jens

My Thoughts:

Where the last volume edited by ST Joshi was in the Weird Fiction, Pyrate Press returns us full speed back into the Cosmic Horror and it was good.

The first story, The Swelling, was a King in Yellow tale and it set the tone for the whole book. This book covered the whole gamut of Cosmic Horror entities, not just Cthulhu. The Disciple was a wonderfully delicious twisted tale where evil feeds on evil and it just made me chortle with unholy glee. The Colder War was a bit longer but reimagined the Cold War with Elder Entities being involved and the destruction of Earth. It was interesting while being gloomy and bit by bit you could tell the main character was losing hope.

This was a really good collection of stories. They were all interesting and they were well written. I tried to find out about Pyrate Press, but beyond there being a Vol 2 in this series (which I have on tap), I couldn’t find anything on them. Even this book I had a devil of a time trying to find any concrete info. Well, maybe if Vol 2 is as good as this I’ll try to do some serious digging but right now I’ll just have to rest on my laurels.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Madness of Cthulhu Vol. 1 ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Madness of Cthulhu Vol. 1
Series: Cthulhu Anthology #3
Editor: ST Joshi
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Weird Fiction
Pages: 274
Words: 114K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jonathan Maberry

Introduction by S. T. Joshi

At the Mountains of Murkiness by Arthur C. Clarke

The Fillmore Shoggoth by Harry Turtledove

Devil’s Bathtub by Lois H. Gresh

The Witness in Darkness by John Shirley

How the Gods Bargain by William Browning Spencer

A Mountain Walked by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Diana of the Hundred Breasts by Robert Silverberg

Under the Shelf by Michael Shea

Cantata by Melanie Tem

Cthulhu Rising by Heather Graham

The Warm by Darrell Schweitzer

Last Rites by K. M. Tonso

Little Lady by J. C. Koch

White Fire by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

A Quirk of the Mistral by Jonathan Thomas

The Dog Handler’s Tale by Donald Tyson

My Thoughts:

Well, the collections by Salome Jones were definitely Cosmic Horror and were creepy and scary and thrilling. This collection by Joshi was not cosmic horror so much as it was Weird Fiction. Now, Lovecraft’s work can be classified as both but after reading this collection, I find that I much prefer the cosmic horror over the weird fiction.

One thing that didn’t work so much for me was that this had bits of humor interlaced with it and nothing about Cthulhu is humorous nor should it be. The opening story, At the Mountains of Murkiness, while an absolute genius piece of parody, set the tone for the whole collection and that was not what I was looking for. The second thing that bothered me was that in a couple of stories Cthulhu or his elder god brethren actually helped humanity. That is NOT how this mythology is supposed to work and the writers who did that should not only be ashamed of themselves but should jump off a cliff to expiate for their literary sins. Or I’d gladly chop their heads off as their bodies are torn apart by a tentacled monstrosity from the depths of utter darkness. But either way, somebody’s gotta pay for that optimism.

I enjoyed this but not as much as I was hoping. I’ll be prepared for the next volume so we’ll see if expectations played as big a part as I think it did. Weird Fiction, here I come!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Cthulhu Lies Dreaming ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Cthulhu Lies Dreaming
Series: Cthulhu Anthology #2
Editor: Salome Jones
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Cosmic Horror
Pages: 389
Words: 134.5K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

Foreword: Cthulhu, Lies, Dreaming by Kenneth Hite

Nikukinchaku by Matthew J. Hockey

Babatunde by Ayobami Leeman Kessler

The Myth of Proof by Greg Stolze

Service by Lynnea Glasser

The Star that is Not a Star (The Statement of Natasha Klein, April 1996) by Lucy Brady

August Lokken by Yma Johnson

Wake My Lord by M. S. Swift

Puddles by Thord D. Hedengren

Sometimes, the Void Stares Back by Marc Reichardt

Beyond the Shore by Lynne Hardy

Bleak Mathematics by Brian Fatah Steele

Father of Dread by Matthew Chabin

He Sees You in His Dreams by Samuel Morningstar

Isophase Light by Daniel Marc Chant

Icebound by Morris Kenyon

Seven Nights in a Sleep Clinic by Saul Quint

Mykes Reach by William Couper

Notes for a Life of Nightmares: A Retrospective on the Work of Henry Anthony Wilcox by Pete Rawlik

Offspring by Evey Brett

Out on Route 22 by E. Dane Anderson

The Red Brick Building by Mike Davis

The Lullaby of Erich Zann by G. K. Lomax

Cymothoa Cthulhii by Gethin A. Lynes

My Thoughts:

I am finding that the Cosmic Horror genre is my weakness. Mostly in the sense I would naturally abhor everything contained within it (hopelessness, dread, despair, the absolute insignificance of man) but that within these stories not only do I NOT abhor them, I practically revel in them. I was thinking about this as I was nearing the end of my read trying to figure out why this was. When I read Hard Day’s Knight the other month, the very mention of Jesus not being strong enough to combat the powers of Hell sent me into a frenzy of practically calling down fire on the authors unbelieving head. Yet in this collection when God is simply dismissed as a non-entity in the face of the elder gods, I didn’t blink. Why? I don’t know yet but I’m keeping that question in the forefront of my mind as I continue reading this genre. Once I figure it out I’ll be mentioning it in one of the reviews.

This collection started out fantastically with “Nikukinchaku”. A story about a school teacher facing budget cuts and how she cuts costs by buying nikukinchaku, a cheap food source that everybody loves. The story ends with the things eating a teacher, the dealer drowning himself in a toilet and everyone who has eaten the nikukinchaku heading out to see to answer “a call” they all can hear, including the teacher. This story had the perfect sense of dread and psychological horror. It was almost literally delicious to read. While some of the other stories had more horror, this was a great way to start.

Sadly, every collection has a low point and this one’s was “Father of Dread”. Incest fantasy between adopted siblings and teen hormones. I don’t need or want to read about a teen boy masturbating to thoughts of his adopted sister. This story is the main reason this was 3.5stars instead of 4.

Salome Jones has done another great job with this anthology and I’m really impressed. To the point where I’ll be looking her up to see what else she has put together. That’s pretty high praise coming from me. That’s if I can figure out how to search for editors instead of authors of course.

I had mentioned in the previous Cthulhu Anthology that I was wanting to space these out a bit more so as to lessen the impact on myself from these soul destroying stories. After reading this my desire is intensified all the more. So instead of reading nothing but Cthulhu Lore, I’ll be spacing it out with a couple of King in Yellow anthologies. Brilliant or what?!?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Cthulhu Lives! (Cthulhu Anthology #1) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Cthulhu Lives!
Series: Cthulhu Anthology #1
Editor: Salome Jones
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Cosmic Horror
Pages: 235
Words: 80K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

  • FOREWORD by Leeman Kessler
  • UNIVERSAL CONSTANTS by Piers Beckley
  • 1884 by Michael Grey
  • ELMWOOD by Tim Dedopulos
  • HOBSTONE by G. K. Lomax
  • ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER JORDAN by John Reppion
  • DARK WATERS by Adam Vidler
  • INK by Iain Lowson
  • DEMON IN GLASS by E. Dane Anderson
  • SCALES FROM BALOR’S EYE by Helmer Gorman
  • OF THE FACELESS CROWD by Gábor Csigás
  • SCRITCH, SCRATCH by Lynne Hardy
  • ICKE by Greg Stolze
  • CODING TIME by Marc Reichardt
  • THE THING IN THE PRINTER by Peter Tupper
  • THE OLD ONES by Jeremy Clymer
  • VISITING RIGHTS by Joff Brown
  • AFTERWORD
My Thoughts:

I rather enjoyed this anthology. Going into Cosmic Horror though, you have to have the proper mindset. There are no heroes overcoming great odds but ordinary people being overcome with hopeless despair and being devoured (whether physically, psychologically or spiritually depends on the story). Madness, mayhem and murder are the key phrases of the day. Finally, the elder gods are dark gods, uncaring, unmoral and barely able to even interact in this reality without destroying it.

If any of those “rules” are broken, it makes for a very unsatisfactory cosmic horror story. Rites of Azathoth was such a book that just didn’t work for me. On the other hand, The Private Lives of Elder Things was fantastic and everything you’d want from cosmic horror. I went into this book wondering which course on the path it was going to take. I’m glad to announce it took the better (errr, worse?) path and was truly horrific and terrifying as only good cosmic horror can be!

I did stay up late a couple of nights because I got caught up in the “one more story” syndrome which has come to represent, to me, the pinnacle of the short story collection. If you can’t put the book down, it has done its job perfectly.

Salome Jones has done a fantastic job of putting together stories and while some are pushing the edge of graphic, either violently or sexually, none of them go into what I’d classify as gratuitous. After the couple of short story collections at the end of November, I am thankful for an editor who has dash of good taste in what stories are chosen.

The reasons this was 3 ½ stars instead of higher is because in one story the writer specifically states how the puny god of the christians is as nothing before the darkness of the elder gods. It was the specificity that irked me. I probably wouldn’t have minded nearly so much if all the religions were lumped together in that statement, but nope, had to specifically talk about Christianity. sigh.

I’ve got another couple of volumes of cosmic horror anthologies after this one but I might stretch them out a bit. Too much darkness isn’t good for the soul after all. Just like eating a whole bag of cheetos isn’t good for the body.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.