Book Review: The Black Wings of Cthulu Edited by S.T. Joshi

There is a reason that H.P. Lovecraft is considered the godfather of modern horror, transcending media formats and inspiring everyone from Stephen KingSam Raimi, and even Brian Yuzna, among countless others.  Writing what was later branded as “cosmic horror”, one of the basic tenets of Lovecraft’s writing was that human life is basically meaningless in the grand scheme of the universe.  If you examine the root psychology of horror in the human mind, nothing can be  considered more scary.  Most famous for creating Cthulu, the cosmic monster-god and the Necronomicon, nearly every piece of horror fiction from the past 60 years can be in some way correlated to Lovecraft’s writings.  It’s funny to think that even the goriest films of today are often launched from ideas made up by Lovecraft in the 1920’s and 30’s, who was largely unknown at the time.

While Edgar Allan Poe is often credited as the godfather of horror, no one went as far as Lovecraft, who redefined the possibility of weird and macabre in fiction.  While it might have taken a good 40 years for his fiction to really spread beyond small cult circles, it has had a lasting impact on the genre and everyone to work in it since.  So it’s no wonder that his writing has inspired an entire book of short stories, gathered here by Titan Books under the editorial guidance of S.T. Joshiconsidered the leading Lovecraft biographer.  The stories range from boring (Pickman’s Other Model) to absolutely bizzare (Copping Squid) to extremely intense (Desert Dreams).

While some of the stories are less-than-stellar, they all have the recognizable influence of Lovecraft in each and every one, varying from straight up body horror to the cosmic sci-fi weirdness that Lovecraft was known for.  From 21 different authors, there is something here for every type of Lovecraft fan, and horror fans at large.  The only thing that holds me back from loving all of it is I’m not the biggest fan of short stories, I prefer long form novels personally, but for the medium, a lot of them hit the spot.  Some are award winners, others are simply Lovecraftian rip-offs, but there is definitely something here for everyone.

The fact that such a book exists is an impressive tribute to the author himself, it does a good job of showing the vast influence Lovecraft had over so many types of fiction and authors that have come since him.  For fans of Lovecraft, this is a must-have, for the casual horror fan jaded by slasher movies and torture-porn, this might not be your bag.  As always, Titan Books brings the goods with packaging, with a slick cover design and praise from Robert Bloch on the cover.  If you enjoy Lovecraft’s horror, this one is for you, if you got bored reading the original Re-Animatoryou probably won’t find much to jump for joy over in this one.


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