Lovecraft Unbound

Edited by Ellen Datlow

Dark Horse Books

ISBN: 978-1-59582-146-1

$19.95; October, 2009

Moving into the realm of book publishing, Dark Horse Comics makes a strong debut with the anthology Lovecraft Unbound. Capably edited by Ellen Datlow (Omni magazine, Blood Is Not Enough, Alien Sex, Twists of the Tale, Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror series), this is another very strong entry into her canon.  Datlow has a long history of pulling authors from various genres – science fiction, horror, high fantasy, mystery – to compile her books. This one is no different. With authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Chabon, Catlin R. Kiernan, Gemma Files, Laird Barron, and William Browning Spencer – it’s certainly quite varied.

Featuring just four reprints – Brian Evenson’s excellent “Din Of Celestial Birds” (from Wordcraft Oregon), Oates disturbing, Kafkaesque tale of ceremonies and traditions “Commencement” (from the anthology Redshift), Chabon’s “In the Black Mill” (from Playboy), and Kiernan’s “Houses Under The Sea” (From Thrillers 2) – this book features strong contributions (along with some of the aforementioned authors) from Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear (“Mongoose”), Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrud (“The Crevasse”), Michael Shea (“The Recruiter”), Joel Lane (“Sight Unseen”), Marc Laidlaw (“Leng”), Holly Phillips (“Cold Water Survival”), Michael Cisco (“Machines of Concrete Light and Dark”), and Nick Mamatas (“That of Which We Speak When We Speak of the Unspeakable”).

Ms. Datlow wisely chooses to eschew the standard Lovecraftian tropes and pastiches that consistently plague writers dabbling in the mythos. Instead she has chosen a collection of works firmly in the spirit of HPL. A few authors chose to expand Howard Philips ideas into new tales, but most work off of the elements of the cosmic unknown and the Elder Gods stamp on our planet’s history. This is where many really succeed. That hint of uncovering the mysteries of the ages. That was one of Lovecraft’s own strengths and one which shows in the stronger work of his devotees. Highly recommended!

Reviewed by James R. Beach

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~ by darkdiscoveries on December 20, 2009.

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