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

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsDreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft H.P. LovecraftDreams 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, because it’s really excellent):

The stories of the Dream Cycle tell of men (Lovecraft writes very few women) who are seeking, discovering, traversing,  stuck in, or trying to escape the Dreamlands, a parallel universe that is entered through dreams. The Dreamlands have a consistent geography with land masses and towns that have their own personalities and politics. For example, in “The Cats of Ulthar” (one of my favorite stories) we learn why it’s illegal to kill cats in Ulthar. The Dreamlands also have a moon and an underworld which are inhabited by frightening non-human races.

If you’re already a fan of Lovecraft, many of these stories will be familiar to you and those that aren’t will seem so. Lovecraft’s usual themes and imagery are all here. (Honestly, they get a little repetitive). The Eldritch mythos and its famous textbook, The Necronomicon, is a constant backdrop, making the tortured characters seem puny and ineffective to change their circumstances in the face of an ancient elder race that cares nothing for mankind. This nihilistic, hopeless feeling is indeed terrifying. Many of Lovecraft’s characters have descended into madness as they face, or refuse to face, a cosmic reality that only a few people have encountered.

A particular theme of these stories is the nature of dreams and reality. They may make you wonder, along with the author and his characters, why we dream at all. Lovecraft suggests that perhaps “real” life is only a dream. If Lovecraft were alive today, I think he’d be disillusioned with modern science’s views about dreams. They’re not nearly as wondrous as Lovecraft’s ideas.


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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