Customer Reviews: New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird
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on October 6, 2012
I labor under a geas that compels me to buy pretty much every new Lovecraftian anthology or pastiche that comes down the Aylesbury pike. The upside is that sooner or later I read a lot of stories that have, or claim to have, that good old HPL-tinged cosmic horror and weirdness. The downside is that many new anthologies contain a fair number of stories I've already encountered, sometimes more than once. New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird is no exception. It's a very good array of tales, and I'm happy to have it in my library. It would be an even greater treat for a reader to whom more of the stories would be new.

China Mieville's "Details," Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald," and Charles Stross's "A Colder War" are among the stories likely to be familiar to most fans of Lovecraftian fiction. Deservedly so--they're great stories. I also especially liked Caitlin Kiernan's "Pickman's Other Model (1929)," Marc Laidlaw's "The Vicar of R'lyeh," Michael Marshall Smith's "Fair Exchange," and Norman Partridge's "Lesser Demons."

New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird is a well-chosen and smartly edited anthology; one nice touch is the use of quotations from HPL as epigraphs. The anthology's main shortcoming is that it is but one entry in the increasingly crowded field of Cthulhu-themed or Lovecraftian anthos, and treads a somewhat well-trodden path. But better a little repetition than the unthinkable: a dearth of cosmic horror. That would be a real nightmare.
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on November 15, 2011
I spent an entire hour writing an initial review in which I typed out the entire Contents page and remarked on my favorite of the stories; but for some reason (perhaps because I quoted text from one of the stories), Amazon has banned that initial review. Annoy'd, I claimed that I would no longer write reviews for Amazon. But this book is so good, and I am one of its writers, and I feel impelled to support my editor and publisher with some sort of review.

There is a rad new trend, it seems, among publishers: the use of "Cthulhu" as a selling tool. More and more books with the Great Old One's name as title are evident: CTHULHU'S REIGN, THE BOOK OF CTHULHU; even S. T. Joshi's BLACK WINGS will undergo a title change when it is reprinted by Titan Books in March of 2012, it will nigh be know as BLACK WINGS OF CTHULHU. S. T. is rather annoy'd at ye alteration. But I see all of this as a good thing, because the writing of Lovecraftian weird fiction is my obsession.

NEW CTHULHU: THE RECENT WEIRD is one of ye finest new titles to use R'lyeh's Lord as title portion, and its brilliance comes from the professionalism of its authors and editor. If we are going to write tales that pay homage to H. P. Lovecraft, it behooves us to do our very best with such work. Some of that very best is in this book.

Paula's Introduction is quite good. She discusses the growing genre of the Mythos, relates biographical information concerning H. P. Lovecraft, and devotes space to the question of "What is Lovecraftian?" The brilliant thing about modern Lovecraftian fiction, penned by professionals of the genre, is that people have their own very personal and unique ideas about what makes up a Lovecraftian story. Very few of the writers in this book can be called "Lovecraftian writers," and that is a part of the book's stength.

The book opens with Caitlin R. Kiernan's "Pickman's Other Model (1929), which I first read in BLACK WINGS. I do consider Caitlin an authentic Lovecraftian artist because Lovecraft has inspired and infiltrated so much of her work. She is absolutely brilliant, evoking mood, atmosphere, and unique characterization. She weaves her spell of words, tells her decadent tale, and we are completely drawn in until the shocking ending.

I first read John Langan's "Mr. Gaunt" is his collection, MR. GAUNT AND OTHER UNEASY ENCOUNTERS. "Uneasy" is the perfect word for this amazing tale. It held my attention absolutely, its mysteries come together to form a single thread of horror. It is one of the creepiest tales that I have ever read, and its monster (its inhuman monster, as contrasted to the mortal one) lingers within one's haunted mind. The writing of this story is especially fine.

Laird Barron has become, with but two collections from Night Shade Books, one of today's vitally impressive and important genre artists. One hesitates to call him "Lovecraftian," his work is so utterly original and fine. He is subtly Lovecraftian, yet potently so. "Old Virginia," reprinted here, is one of his most gripping tales.

I cannot remember having read any fiction by Sarah Monette until reading "Bringing Helena Back" in this book. I was instantly impressed. She has a very literary style, with prose that flows and captivating dialog that brings to life her outre characters. There is also a dead cool Lovecraftian ambiance in this story. One thing that distinguishes the new tales of Lovecraftian horror from professional writers is their originality and intelligent, and both aspects are in plenitude herein. This story is so good that it hath inspired me to order the author's themed short story collection, THE BONE KEY.

There are many other fascinating tales by talented writers such as William Browning Spencer, Don Webb, the delightful and talented Cody Goodfellow, and the amazing China Mieville. Michael Shea, who is a genius when it comes to writing tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (of which he has written gobs) is well-represented with his story, "Tsathoggua." This book also introduced me to writers whom I have never encountered before this.

One of the really enjoyable aspects of the book is that each tale is prefaced with a quote from a story by H. P. Lovecraft. Caitlin's story is prefaced by lines from "Pickman's Model," Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald" (a Sherlock Holmes tale) is prefaced by lines from HPL's "The Call of Cthulhu" and Doyle's "A Study in Scarlett." I was especially pleased with the portion of "The Thing on the Doorstep" that perfectly preludes my own story in the book.

I love this book and can highly recommend it. I see that it is on Kindle for a very reasonable price.
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on November 23, 2011
This anthology is chock full of fairly recent (in most cases) Mythos stories. The only problem is that almost every one of these stories has appeared in some other similar anthology within the last few years. If you don't collect Mythos stories then you will probably be happy with what is, to you, new material. If you are another collector as I am you will find little, if anything, new here.
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on June 18, 2012
This is an incredibly extensive anthology, raging from the good, to the really good, to the just excellent. Some of the stories I read once; others have stuck post-it notes in my mind to be rereaders. One such is Caitlin Kiernan's incredible knock-out offering, "Pickman's Other Model (1929)." Wow! In my mind, essence of Lovecraftian. But don't stop with that, even if it is the first offering in the anthology. There are many: "The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft" is both in the spirit of the Master, perfectly written-and a treatise on HPL's social failings (and prejudices). "Old Virginia" is a skin-crawler (I still can't remember that story without shuddering!) Every story here is worth the read.

One really doesn't have to be Lovecraftian-oriented, or a Lovecraftian aficionado, to enjoy these-just to love and appreciate GOOD horror writing. But if you're not already a Lovecraft disciple-you just may well be when you're finished! I'm so thankful I bought this book, so I can go back and savour these stories again and again and again.
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on December 11, 2012
I used to love Lovecraftian horror when I was younger. I read Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, August Derleth. I have by no means read all of the old masters, or even most of them. There's just too much out there. But I've always loved the genre. Something about the combination of ancient indifferent gods, black magic, confused and highly imperfect heroes, and especially the overwhelming creepiness of the stories, fascinates me.

I was in the mood for something thought-provoking and scary, and so of course Lovecraft was the first thing that came to mind. I found this collection of stories and was completely satisfied. I only found one story in this book that I had already seen, by China Mieville, but it was a pretty good one and I didn't really mind reading it a second time. 90% of the rest of the book is fantastic.

There were some misses. One of the stories, "Another Fish Story," reminds me of some kind of 60s or 70s hippy book. Pretty irritating, mostly because I'm too young to have lived through those times. Thus the mannerisms and dialogue just annoy me as opposed to bringing up a sense of nostalgia for the time, which is what I'm assuming she was going for. I stuck with the story and it turned out to be a pretty interesting origin tale of one of the more infamous characters from that era. But still I rolled my eyes a lot while reading it.

Other than that one mediocre story, all of the selections in this book were wonderful. Three that stand out for me are: "A Colder War," which is basically a sci-fi story imagining what the Cold War would be like using knowledge of and access to the Old Ones; "Bad Sushi," a completely awesome story about a sushi chef facing eldritch horrors; and my personal favorite, "Lesser Demons." The best way I can describe "Lesser Demons" is that it is what would happen if the creators of The Walking Dead decided to try their hand at the Cthulhu mythos. I absolutely loved it.

I am so happy I picked this book up and gave it a shot. It's been many years since I read anything from this genre and I'm pleased to see that some really fine authors are trying their hand in it. Also it was a nice shot of bourbon and penicillin to the stink of Twilight that seems to be filling the air nowadays.
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on May 10, 2015
While I found the opener kind of a snooze, the next eight stories are uniformly engaging and I was 190 pages into the collection before I hit another that didn't grab me.

Gotta love a streak like that in a multi-author anthology.

The road from that point isn’t quite so well-paved. Putting her best foot forward as she has, editor Guran eventually had to run short of A-list material. Not that the rest of the book is bad -- it’s just comparatively spotty -- and indeed some wonderful stories are spread over the remaining stretch. Paul McAuley’s vivid “Take Me to the River” feels fairly as though its author had lived it. China Miéville’s “Details” is so well anchored in our world that I was tempted to test its premise. Charles Stross’ closer “A Colder War” (the only story in the collection I’d read before) is an sad and inventive tale of a Cthulhoid doomday weapon. And Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette’s “Mongoose” is simply a delight. Never mind that I had a poor grasp of their interstellar exterminator’s vocabulary. That’s part of the fun. This one needs to be a movie!
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on November 2, 2013
This was an interesting set of short stories all based off tales written by H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos. There are 27 stories, 5 of which I felt were really amazing ('A Study in Emerald' by Neil Gaiman, 'Details' by China Meiville, 'Pickman's Other Model' by Caitlin Kiernan, 'Fair Exchange' by Michael Marshall Smith, and 'A Colder War', by Charles Stross), then there are about 7 other stories that are pretty good, while the rest are just ok. Anyone that is a Cthulhu fan will enjoy at least half these stories, so that probably warrants buying the book. I'm sure that most of these stories are available by the author's themselves or in other anthologies. I am not a huge collector of Cthulhu novels, so most of these stories were completely new to me, which was nice.
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on July 17, 2014
I admit I purchased this primarily for Gaiman and Newman...whose writing never fails to entertain me. And in the course of reading the collection I discovered other writers who were equally tantalizing - so now I have new "addictions" to obtain and savor. I love this genre, and am delighted that these writers chose to do work in it. I will be looking forward to future collections as well as scouring Amazon for the kindle version of the works of the rest of the authors! Awesome!
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on January 12, 2014
This new volume of H.P. Lovecraft themed stories hits the horror nail right on the head. Good collection of writers, some who seem to channel Lovecraft right into their stories. This one I think Lovecraft fans will like.
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on March 17, 2016
I picked this book up at a used bookstore on a whim. I'm a sucker for anything Lovecraft and I thought it would make a fun addition to my library.

For the most part, this book is full of really great stories from some very talented authors. Some were more distinctly Lovecraft than others, but they were all delightfully unsettling. There are maybe one or two stories in the book that are mediocre at best, but that's better than I expected out of what is essentially a tribute band to a controversial legend, and the excellent stories more than make up for them. If you're a fan of cosmic horror, give it a shot. You've nothing to lose but your sanity, right?
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