Edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles
You’ll definitely get your money’s worth from this vast collection of stories and poetry, which takes humanity’s relationship with the Cthulhu Mythos into the distant future and to other worlds far beyond our own. It also takes readers to fresh horrors on aliens planets and in some very trippy alternate dimensions. Lovecraftian monsters invade both inner and outer space, and it’s likely more than one story will stay with you long after completing this substantial collection. It may not be a surprise that there aren’t many happy endings here, although that can depend on which way your squid is battered. There are also more than a couple tales involving worryingly insane astronauts and doomed asteroids, and spaceships, but none of these blend into a homogeneous, shoggothy mass. The sheer variety is very impressive. Future Lovecraft is an unsettling look at humanity’s future, and questions if we even have one at all.
The Haunted Eyeball’s preferred stories in this collection are marked with a ‘*’ and explanations about why are given in the brief summaries underneath.
In This Brief Interval by Ann K. Schwader
Poem. Best line – ‘Before our sun first sparked, the stars / turned right.’
In the Hall of the Yellow King by Peter Rawlik
A diverse group of Lovecraftian alien races and outer-dimensional beings meet for a grave negotiation, and a power play which could change the very structure of the universe.
Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Nylarthotep by Mick Mamatas
Humanity evades the return of the Great Old Ones by transporting themselves into the virtual Newspave, but they haven’t quite avoided the threat of destruction and madness, and it’s possible that the only way out is to evolve into a self-replicating PAC-MAN-esq game. Utterly mad, although I think it almost made sense.
*Tri-TV by Bobby Cranestone
Channel hopping was never this fun on Earth. Flicking between TV stations somewhere in space, it appears our future is indeed touched by Cthulhu, and all his mates, too.
Do Not Imagine by Mari Nessas
Poem. “We see your grey ships
We eat upon human screams,
and in the shadows of the stars,
*Rubedo, An Alchemy of Madness by Michael Matheson
Brilliant tale. Stranded at the ass end of space, a female scientist assists with a difficult birth. Terrific description really pulls you into this tale of insanity, sadness and solitude. Very impressive space action here, too.
People Are Reading What You Are Writing by Luso Mnthali
Felt like a highly surreal Margaret Attwood study on the power of words to stir people, especially women, from their oppression, even after humanity has colonised other worlds. Interesting.
*Harmony Amid the Stars by Ada Hoffman
More madness aboard a spaceship, but who is truly losing their mind? Effective use of the diary entry format (this is a Lovecraft collection after all) and the characters are cleverly sketched as events unravel. Feels nicely old-school, and I mean that in a highly complimentary way.
*The Comet Called Ithaqua by Don Webb
A deliciously ghoulish tale of outer space madness and folks pushed to breaking point losing a bit of their humanity in the process. Another classic Lovecraftian tale of mankind bringing its nightmares wherever it goes.
Phoenix Woman by Kelda Crich
Poem. “Groomed with persistent
“ancient teeth/ feed by fluttery mouths”
Postflesh by Paul Jessup
A spaceship crew are stranded on an alien world inhabited by leftover biotech creations. Graphic, poetically written and appealingly nasty.
*The Library Twins and the Nekrobees by Martha Hubbard
Two super-powered twins guard a futuristic library containing the last few hard copy books in existence. They catch a powerful entity attempting to alter the meaning in their pages, and a battle soon ensues. A great story, witty and flowing, and the fearless twins’ banter is great fun to read, while the creature they encounter poses a significant threat. Leaves you wondering ‘what if they failed….?’
Go, Go, Go, Said the Byakhee by Molly Tamzer
Utterly mental in an enthralling way. You don’t so much read as tumble between the lines, but this zips along with an irresistible sense of primitive, savage innocence, and also, it’s full of tentacles. Great fun.
*Skin by Helen Marshall
After a fateful trip to Egypt, a university professor reports on a morbid secrets of the Alexandria library which were learned while investigating the origin of ancient book cover, bound in an unidentified type of leather. What is the price of preserving knowledge? Ominous and very effective.
The Old 44th by Randy Stafford
Poem: “Right there, where the mesa ends,
And their blue, frothy Hound blood
Shone under the moons,
Is where they’re kennelled.”
Iron Footfalls by Julio Toro San Martin
Partly a stream of conscious, a cyborg soldier awaits rescue, and as she tries to figure out the cause of the delay, it seems she might be waiting an eternity.
This Song is Not For You by A. D. Cahill
Poem: “His writhing, festering pleasure
Strikes a ten-dimensional chord.”
*Tloque Nahuaque by Nelly Geraldine Garcia-Rosas
Scientists harness the power of creation, via the hadron collider, with some dire repercussions for reality. Surreal and full of monsters, which are a good thing, this was written with authority and class.
*Dolly in the Window by Robyn Seale
Excellent story creating a real switch in the reader’s perspectives as the narrator, who appears deeply violent and unpleasant, starts to explain the unhappy reality of the situation. Creepy, very effective.
*A Cool, Private Place by Jen White
The real estate in this part of Australia is cheap, but only because no one else is crazy enough to live so near to ‘time wells’, bubbles of time past and future. Occasionally, something gets into present day, and this expertly crafted tale explores how you might survive it.
Venice Burning by A. C. Wise
A jaded private eye investigates a missing person case, in a bleak world where timestreams have mashed together following the rising of R’lyeh. Great imagery.
A Day and a Night in Providence by Anthony Boulanger
A pilgrim isn’t all he seems as prayers bring forth madness and the end of the world. Perceptions of holiness are about to change. An effectively realised sense of doom, destruction and religious madness.
*A Welcome Sestina From Cruise Director Isabeau Molyneux by Mae Empson
In retrospect, feeding the starving people of earth with baby giant squid, found underneath the ice cap, might have been a mistake. Presenting in an unravelling stream of consciousness, this was effectively quirky and may possibly make you very hungry while you read…
* Lottie Versus the Moon Hopper by Pamela Rentz
A space-shuttle cleaning crew get a lot more than they bargained for. This blue collar sci fi story is written with a very wry sense of humour, and some vividly realistic, world-weary characters really bring this great piece of ‘horror from a mundane perspective’ to life.
*The Damnable Asteroid by Leigh Kimmel
A strange meteorite is sucked into the orbit of a mining-pod’s asteroid, and starts to have an unpleasant effect on the men underneath its gaze. Proper old school science fiction nightmare, there are things out there in space we really shouldn’t mess with, and keep watching the skies!
*Myristica Fragrans by E. Catherine Tobler
An alien market owner (although actually considerably more exotic than that sounds) comes into contact with some unusual specimens which start to obsess her to a dangerous extent. Unusual, and highly effective.
*Dark of the Moon by James S. Dorr
A female Russian cosmonaut deals with outer space by reading Western science fiction writers, only to discover that Lovecraft may have been on to something. Definitely worth a look, sadness and the dark side of the moon are a powerful combination.
*Trajectory of a Cursed Spirit by Meddy Ligner
A fantastic tale of the Russian gulag translated up to Mars, and what a political prisoner found out there. This story has a really classic feel, with a very impressive use of setting and character.
Transmigration by Lee Clarke Zumpe
Poem: “the sparks of his divine machinery
danced above the roofless temple
beneath the swarming, callous stars.
I saw inappropriate shadows.”
*Concerning the Last Days of the Colony at New Roanoake by Tucker Cummings
Another great story using the classic diary entry structure. More of a report on what was found at a doomed colony, and it leave just enough is left unsaid, or has been lost, for the reader to draw their own startling conclusions.
*The Kadath Angle by Maria Mitchell
Set in Lovecraft’s notorious town of Innsmouth, many years after the army got involved, many years after humanity forgot all about it. Even this mutated town has its social pariahs, but even monsters can greatly underestimate each other.
*The Last Man Standing by Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso
This takes an unusual perspective on a worldwide apocalypse, basing its story in Nigeria. It turns out, old superstitions die hard, even through a modern day plague. Bleak but very involving.
Exhibit at the National Anthropology Museum in Tombustou by Andrew Dombalagian
A short piece that examines an artefact that ‘early’ humans used to plead with the Elder Gods for protection, with more poetry than prose here, a cleverly frozen moment using a futuristic perspective.
The Door From Earth by Jesse Bullington
On an alien world, they have as much trouble stopping mad scientists as Earth-bound heroes. Really fun, Lovecraft-flavoured science fiction here. Its non-human protagonists add some real spice, too.
The Deep Ones by Bryan Thao Worra
Poem: “We grow with uncertain immortality
At the edge not made for man,
Bending, curving, humming cosmic
Awake and alien,”
* The Labyrinth of Sleep by Orrin Grey
A professional dreamer (shades of Inception here if you’d like a reference) seeks out a missing friend in the universal labyrinth of dreams, and learns something rather troubling about the deepest levels of humanity’s sub-consciousness. Highly recommended.
*Deep Blue Dreams by Sean Craven
Using jellyfish sludge creates a cheap, natural high, only you’ve gotta feed it something…the term ‘Jellyhead’ is great, and this is a delightfully squidgy tale of a worldwide addiction going badly wrong.
Big Bro by Arlene J. Yandug
Poem: “Watching the dust
Of our names
In the wake of our own thoughts,
through the cracks of cubicles.”