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H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft(1890-1937)
H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories have been a major influence on many modern horror and fantasy writers. We’ll present several collections of his stories. For more information about H.P. Lovecraft, see this website dedicated to him.

At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror: Difficult to engage with

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At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror by H.P. Lovecraft

Fans of Stephen King take note: This work and other tales of H.P. Lovecraft were among King’s main inspirations. Lovecraft bases most of his stories out of his Providence, just as King uses small town Maine so often as a setting. Likewise, each utilizes quirks of rural life and old wives’ tales to spin tales of the macabre that never quite fully explain themselves. Ghosts, miasmas, fiery pentagrams, voodoo magic, mysterious deaths, and the other typical plot devices used by horror are never intended to fully connect with reality. Lovecraft himself has said that the major theme underpinning his stories is the inapproachable nature of fear to reality. But enough about the subject matter, and on to the literary merits of th... Read More

Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft

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Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft  H.P. Lovecraft

In the mood for some Eldritch horror? Feel like steeping yourself in Lovecraft’s frightening nihilistic dream worlds? Want to be read to by some of the world’s best story readers? Then give Blackstone Audio’s version of Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft a try. It collects Lovecraft’s entire Dream Cycle in 20 hours of high-quality audio narrated by some of my favorite readers including Robertson Dean, Simon Vance, Sean Runnette, Elijah Alexander, Stefan Rudnicki, Bronson Pinchot, Simon Prebble, Tom Weiner, Malcolm Hillgartner, and Patrick Cullen.

Here are the stories. (I’ve linked them to the excellent Lovecraft Archive where you can read them for free since they’re in the public domain, but please consider this audio version, b... Read More

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories: A good quick culturally-relevant dose of Lovecraft

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The Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft

"In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."

Ask any writer of horror, fantasy, or weird fiction who their influences were and H.P. Lovecraft’s name is almost sure to come up, especially if they’re over the age of 50. For this reason alone, all true fans of these genres must experience H.P. Lovecraft’s work for themselves. Think of it as “required reading.” Even if you don’t read horror or weird tales, Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos pops up regularly in fantasy literature, games, television, music, and art, so it’s a good idea to get a little of it under your belt.

If you want to get a good quick culturally-relevant dose of Lovecraft, I recommend The Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories which is available in several editions. I listened to Naxos AudioBooks’ vers... Read More

Eldritch Tales: A Miscellany of the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft

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Eldritch Tales: A Miscellany of the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft

For those who just can’t get enough Lovecraft, Blackstone Audio has just released this lovely collection of a significant portion of his work. It contains 56 of his horror stories, poems, letter excerpts, and essays. Notably missing are his longer works (e.g., “At the Mountains of Madness” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”) and a few of his most popular short stories which are so often collected elsewhere (e.g., “The Call of Cthulhu,” and “The Dunwich Horror”).

Most of the stories in Eldritch Tales: A Miscellany of the Macabre are vaguely related to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, or at least his general premise that the universe is inhabited by a race of horrible ancient gods who sleep but are occasionally awakened by cultish worshipers from the darker regions of our planet... worshipers who usually eventually... Read More

Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft

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Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft

There are sacraments of evil as well as of good about us, and we live and move to my belief in an unknown world, a place where there are caves and shadows and dwellers in twilight. It is possible that man may sometimes return on the track of evolution, and it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead.
—Arthur Machen (quoted as an introduction to “The Horror at Red Hook”)

Everyone must read a little Lovecraft and Blackstone Audio’s recently published edition of Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft is, in my opinion, the perfect way to do that. Like re-animated corpses, Lovecraft’s most popular stories from the 1920s and 1930s pulp magazines are brought back to life by some of the best readers in the business: Paul Michael Garcia, Bronson Pinchot,... Read More

Magazine Monday: Weird Tales No. 360

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The owner, publisher and editor of Weird Tales have all changed since the last issue of the magazine, and it shows. No longer innovative, with cutting edge fiction, it is now filled with pastiches of the work of H.P. Lovecraft, a throwback to the early days of the magazine. The Hugo-Award-winning team of fiction editor Ann VanderMeer and editorial and creative director Stephen H. Segal are clearly no longer choosing the fiction or art that used to brighten each issue, and the intelligent nonfiction that completed the magazine is nearly gone, though Kenneth Hite’s exploration of Lovecraft’s work, “Lost in Lovecraft,” continues; the fourteenth entry in the series is... Read More

SFM: Hearne, Sanderson, Lovecraft

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 

"Clan Rathskeller" by Kevin Hearne (2010, available at Kevin Hearne's blog, audio available)

“Clan Rathskeller” is one of Kevin Hearne’s short stories set in his IRON DRUID CHRONICLES world. This one takes place before the events of the first book, Hounded. Atticus, the last druid, and his Irish Wolfhound Oberon, are in Tempe Arizona, trying to lay low and avoid the attention of any ancient gods. But then they notice some gnomes disguised as Santa’s elves and they end up getting involved in their fight against an evil creature who stole something from them.

All of Hearne’s IRON DRUID storie... Read More

SFM: St. George, Reed, Lovecraft, Velde

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 


The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper by Carlie St. George (2015, free at The Book Smugglers)

Jimmy Prince is a private investigator in Spindle City, a rough town with a thin veneer of civility and populated by spins on familiar fairy-tale tropes. If you’re looking for a fancy dress or some rented companionship, the Godmother has what you need... for a price, of course. A lethal disease known as Pins & Needles runs rampant, killing anyone who isn’t wealthy enough to afford the exorbitantly-priced medicine. And sometimes dead bodies turn up in dar... Read More

And the Darkness Falls: A horror anthology

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And the Darkness Falls edited by Boris Karloff

In 1943, Boris Karloff was induced by his old friend Edmund Speare, an English professor and book editor, to assist in putting together an anthology of horror stories; as Speare put it, "a collection of bogey stories selected by a professional bogey man." The resulting volume, Tales of Terror, consisted of a six-page introduction by Karloff and 14 stories, ran to 317 pages, and was a popular release with the public. On the strength of that book's sales, the two tried their luck again with an even more ambitious project. The result was 1946's And the Darkness Falls, a whopping volume running to 631 pages and containing 59 short stories, each with an introduction from Karloff, in addition to 10 short, eerie poems scattered throughout. An impressively wide-ranging survey of the horror story, this staggeringly generous volume presents ta... Read More

Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors

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Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg & Martin Greenberg

Though hardly a runaway success in its day, and a publication that faced financial hardships for much of its existence, the pulp magazine known as Weird Tales is today remembered by fans and collectors alike as one of the most influential and prestigious. Anthologies without number have used stories from its pages, and the roster of authors who got their start therein reads like a "Who's Who" of 20th century horror and fantasy literature. During its 32-year run, from 1923-1954, and in its 279 issues, Weird Tales catered to a select readership that could not help but be impressed by early efforts from the likes of Robert E. Howard, Read More

Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies

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Weird Tales: The Magazine that Never Dies edited by Marvin Kaye

Marvin Kaye's Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies anthology from 1988 takes a slightly different tack than its earlier sister volume, Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors. Whereas the editors of that earlier collection chose to select one story from each year of the magazine's celebrated 32-year run (1923-1954), Kaye has decided here to not just limit himself to the periodical's classic era of 279 issues, but to also include tales from each of the four latter-day incarnations of "The Unique Magazine" (from 1973-87). The result is 45 pieces of generally superb speculative fantasy and horror, including six "Weird Tales Reprints" by such luminaries as Dickens, Poe, Flaubert and Stoker, as well as Otis Adelbert Kline's "Why Weird Tales?," an article that clearly delineated the magazine's goals and intentions in its first an... Read More

Rivals of Weird Tales: Nary a clinker in the bunch!

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Rivals of Weird Tales edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg

From 1923 – ’54, over the course of 279 issues, the pulp publication known as Weird Tales helped to popularize macabre fantasy and outré horror fiction, ultimately becoming one of the most influential and anthologized magazines of the century, and introducing readers to a “Who’s Who” of American authors. I had previously read and reviewed no fewer than six large collections of tales culled from the pages of “the Unique Magazine,” and had loved them all. But Weird Tales, of course, was far from being the only pulp periodical on the newsstands back when, as amply demonstrated in the appropriately titled, 500-page anthology Rivals of Weird Tales. In this wonderfully entertaining, generous collection, editors Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemi... Read More

Weird Tales: Seven Decades of Terror: Another wonderful collection from “The Unique Magazine”

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Weird Tales: Seven Decades of Terror edited by John Betancourt & Robert Weinberg

This is the seventh anthology that I have reviewed that has been drawn from the pages of Weird Tales, one of the most famous pulp magazines in publishing history. Each of the previous collections had employed its own modus operandi in presenting its gathered stories. Weird Tales (1964) and Worlds of Weird (1965) had been slim paperbacks featuring previously uncollected stories. The Best of Weird Tales: 1923 (1997) had spotlighted tales solely from WT’s very first year. Weird Tales: A Selection In Facsimile (1990) was a generous hardcover offering photocopied pages from the original magazine. Read More

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

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The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

I haven’t actually read every page of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, yet I’m giving it my highest recommendation. Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Master and Mistress of Weird, The Weird is 1126 pages long and should really be considered a textbook of weird fiction. It contains 110 carefully chosen stories spanning more than 100 years of weird fiction. Here’s what you can expect to find in this massive volume:

A “Forweird” by Michael Moorcock gives us a brief history of the weird tale, discusses how it has defied publishers’ attempts to categorize it into neatly-bordered genres, and gives examples of writers who are revered by modern reade... Read More

Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness: A delightfully dark anthology

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Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness  edited by Lester Smith

The works of almost fifty authors are collected in this delightfully dark anthology of Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness, which includes, other than Haiku, short- to medium-length poetry and about ten short-short stories in the horror genre; however, most of these short horror works are in the tradition of or comment on the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft, as the title makes clear. I think any fan of Lovecraft should check this book out. It’s a fun read. And it’s often a funny read as well. Consider the haiku tradition in English of writing the poems in a three-line, 5-7-5 syllable pattern. And then note that Necronomicon has five syllables! That word is just begging to be the first line of a haiku:
Read More

Fantasy Super Pack #1: Something for everyone

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Fantastic Stories Presents: Fantasy Super Pack #1 edited by Warren Lapine

Fantasy Super Pack #1 , which is available for 99c in Kindle format, is an enormous collection of 34 stories presumably showcasing the taste of the editor of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, an online magazine. As I'm interested in submitting to the magazine, I picked it up, and thoroughly enjoyed most of the stories, none of which I remembered reading before though I'd heard of several of them.

I like stories that have a narrative arc, that build tension and then resolve it at the end, more than the currently-fashionable type of story that just stops at a thematic moment (or, I often suspect, when the author runs out of ideas). Based on this collection, Lapine also likes the narrative-arc kind of... Read More

Cthuthlu Fhtagn!: Variety is the spice of the Elder Gods

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Cthuthlu Fhtagn! edited by Ross Lockhart

Usually, I shy away from reviewing books whose name I can’t pronounce. Since this title is in the language of the Elder Gods, though, it’s probably better that I can’t pronounce it. Aklo, H.P. Lovecraft’s mystical language, was never meant for human voices to speak anyway, as editor Ross Lockhart explains in his introduction. Lockhart also informs us that the meaning of “Fhtagn” was given to him in a dream (presumably by the Old Ones) and it means “house.” Anyway, Cthuhlu Fhtagn! is the third Cthulhu-themed anthology Word Horde has done, and Lockhart is now getting mystical information while he sleeps… I’d keep an eye on him, if I were you.

Cthulhu Fhtagn!
has 19 stori... Read More

Game Review: The Keeper’s and Investigator’s Guides for Achtung! Cthulhu

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The Keeper’s and Investigator’s Guides for Achtung! Cthulhu by Modiphius Games

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a character in your favorite story? I think everyone has wondered this at some point. Using the imagination to transport you to a place that doesn’t exist in the real world is one of the fundamental reasons we read speculative fiction. It’s a chance to escape reality for awhile. You can take your imagination a step further by actually playing the role. I’m talking about Role Playing Games — games in which you become the character you’re reading about and partake in pseudo-imaginary adventures with your peers.

I was never into RPGs and wrote them off as mostly a past-time for the more “serious nerd.” I chose to occupy myself with way less nerdy endeavors like making Anime Music Videos or painting Steampunk robots. My introduction to RPGs reall... Read More