on April 28, 1998
For those of us who came early into our addiction to H. P. Lovecraft, the Necronomicon assumes a singular place as the most famous book never written. Lovecraft's non-existent volume, a treatise on magic that unlocks the dimensional barriers that seperate us from Earth's powerful and horrific former rulers, has assumed a life all its own.
The Necronomicon: Selected Stories and Essays Concerning the Blasphemous Tome of the Mad Arab is a wonderful compendium of lore and imagination compiled by editor Robert M. Price. The various stories, prefaced by an informative and insightful introduction by Price,
are all excellent in their own way, but rather uneven in tone. From genuinely creepy tales like "Settler's Wall" and "The Howler In the Dark" to more tongue-in-cheek offerings like Robert Silverberg's " Demons of Cthulhu," The Necronomicon offers a little bit of everything for the hardcore Lovecraft junkie.
For me, the book's real spine lies in the pseudo-scholarly articles that deal with the Necronomicon and its author, the "Mad" arab Abdul Alhazrad, as if they genuinely existed. Included here are such choice items as a biography of Alhazred, a history of the Necronomicon as written by Lovecraft himself, the John Dee Translation of the Necronomicon (an over-the-top parody so hilarious it reads like Shakespeare on acid), and a refreshingly serious , A Critical Commentary on the Necronomicon written by Robert M. Price.
If the idea of ancient tomes of forbidden magic, exotic lands, distant times and unutterably terrifying monsters appeals to you, then this book is a welcome addition to the growing body of Lovecraft studies.
on November 12, 2005
To begin with, this is the NECRONOMICON published by Chaosium as part of their Mythos fiction line. It is, of course, a fictional work. This anthology does not purport to be anything BUT fiction, so if you are looking for a real grimoire of ancient evil, yeah, good luck with that.
Second, this is absolutely huge. There are 5 "Necronomicons" included, plus some pseudo-Necronomica added as commentary. I agree with previous posters that this is overkill. And truth be known, you will probably do as I did and read the first two and skip the rest, so chronology trumps merit in this case. I am surprised, though, that any reviewers complained about this "feature" - surely more material for the same price is a good thing, right? I am happy knowing that if I ever need a Necronomicon, I have 5 to choose from (or perhaps the reviewers are worried about a "Nine Gates"-esque dilemma?).
The fiction section of THE NECRONOMICON is quite enjoyable, beginning with Manly Wade Wellman's "The Parchment" and ending with Fed Chappell's "The Adder". These stories cover 185 pages, which would make a respectable book on their own. My favorite is by far "Settler's Wall", which is the mental equivalent of living in a world of rational numbers and then running into the number "pi".
Finally, THE NECRONOMICON opens and closes with pieces by editor Robert Price. I have labored through enough editor's introductions and story notes expounding his theories of higher criticism and his religious opinions that I have finally cracked and decided to become his arch-nemesis. However, I feel I must give him credit where it is due for his materful introduction discussing the Necronomicon, postmodernism, higher-criticism, and holy scriptures. Never before have I read such a clear and obvious testament of a cultist who has studied arcane texts to the point that his brains have turned to cottage cheese and run out his ears. Really, I think I was driven insane halfway through his twenty page postmodernist critique of the existence of the concept "book" (fortunately, the next ten pages drove me further to the point of being sane again. Who knew the mind is a moebius strip?). The scary thing is, that I'm not sure if Price meant it as a satire, a fictional account by a crazed cultist, or if he really believes this stuff? I think the ambiguity only adds to the genius.
So, congratulations Robert Price, you have compiled an outstanding anthology. And, if I may say so, you'd make a dam fine cultist.
on March 5, 2002
I noticed that this magnificent anthology has garned a few poor reviews. Having read it, I can see way. It may not be an entertaining collection for casual or half-hearted readers. Oh, they will enjoy the pastiche stories, but then find the "translated" passages of "ye booke by ye Arab" to be rough going. This is actually deliberate. If Lovecraft had a chance to review these translated passages, he might concur. The uninitiated should find these pages difficult, but the genuine fan will detect the clever nuggets of wit, rather pokerfaced, and many wil pass right by them. A solid, colorful book. I also enjoyed the description of Abdul Alhazred's demise. In Charles Mitchell's THE COMPLETE H.P. LOVECRAFT FILMOGRAPHY, he cleverly notes how the creature in the film "Sound of Horror" was based on the story of Alhazred's death. It is great that this collection included it. 4 out of 5 stars. Recommended!
on November 14, 2014
NOTE: This is for the Audible Audio Edition, which is the product page I'm on. For some reason all the other reviews here are for the paperback.
In terms of the stories contained and their performances, this production is great. I had already read several of the stories before and I was already a fan of Lovecraft, so there were no surprises there. I haven't listened to the entire thing, yet, but so far all the performances have been excellent.
There is one major flaw with this production that is very irritating. There is NO track listing of any kind. Even on the product page there is no listing of what stories are contained or who the performers are. This is pure laziness. It seems to be a problem with many short story collections. To make matters worse, they don't even break the audio files into separate story tracks, which is absurd. Even without titles, if they had at least broken it down into "Track 1, Track 2, Track 3," etc. for each story it would be more manageable. As it is, you get 3 separate files and you basically have to listen through the whole thing first, take notes, and then fast forward to whatever story you want. This is completely and utterly ridiculous. Blackstone Audio should know better.
If they fix this, I will give it a better rating.
on February 22, 2002
This collection offers the reader a very mixed bag. Pulling off an anthology like this is extremely difficult because the stories threaten to be repetitious, tedious, or both. Robert Price has only moderate success here.
The stories are remarkably varied; Price has taken a good cross-section of stories about the Necronomicon and has avoided the repetition problem for the most part. Despite this, some of the stories are quite predictable.
The strength of this collection indeed lies in its variety. When was the last time you read a Mythos story by John Brunner? His story is one of the best of the book. For that matter, Silverberg and Pohl are not well known for Mythos contributions, but they make contributions to this volume.
The real tedium in the collection comes in the versions of the Necronomicon. There's only so much archaically-written gobbledygook a reader can stand. After a page of it, the rest looks like more of the same. Thus, "The Sussex Manuscript" and Lin Carter's contribution are of little interest to the reader. Carter's repeats the same themes again and again, showing some creativity but soon losing the reader's interest.
The value of this collection, then, is limited. Some of Price's other collections present a much more interesting read. This book is one for the dedicated Cthulhu Mythos fan.
on May 18, 2001
If you're a die-hard fan of H.P. Lovecraft's work, and the Cthulhu Mythos that grew from it , then you MUST add this book to your collection!
The book is composed of essentially two sections. The first is a collection of stories, by various authors, concerning the Necronomicon, that blasphemous occult tome invented by HPL. The second part of the book has several versions of sections of the Necronomicon, and commentaries about the tome. Even if you do not find the stories of interest, this book is well worth having for the latter material alone! Most notably included are Fred L. Pelton's "The Sussex Manuscript," Lin Carter's "The Necronomicon: The Dee Translation," Robert M. Price's "A Critical Commentary Upon The Necronomicon," and H.P. Lovecraft's "History of The Necronomicon."
Fear not the Great Old Ones and Outer Gods! Get this book!
on April 3, 2000
I began collecting the Chaosium volumes just a year or so ago, and this was one of the first volumes I picked up. As a longtime sf fan, as well as a Mythos fan, I eagerly looked forward to tales by Robert Silverberg and John Brunner, set in the Mythos. Have to say that those tales were disappointing, and the John Dee translation of the Necronomicon so dry as to be unreadable (I haven't finished it yet in four or five tries). Otherwise extremely good volume, and comparable in quality to EP Berglund's Disciples of Cthulhu or Jim Turner's Cthulhu 2000 (which are the best recent collections of Mythos tales not by HPL).
on April 27, 2001
...(First half of book) fiction with only brief mentions of Lovecraft's creation, the Necronmicon. BUT, the second half of the book consists of two great ficticious versions of the "Blasphemous Tome", th "Dee Translation" and the more acaicly-written "Sussex Manuscript", there's a "preface" by DeCamp, a biography of the Mad Arab, Lovecraft's brief essay on the Necronomicon's history, a critical commentary, and a short "lost chapter" about what really drove Al Hazred mad, even a drawing based on woodcut of Al Hazred himself! Even throwing the first part of the book away, it's well worth the money. I highly reccommend it for all ... Necronomicon fans!
on August 10, 2001
With interesting stories,John Dee's version of The Necronomicon itself,and even H.P. Lovecraft's own essay concerning The Necronomicon,this makes a great read for anyone that might be a believer in The Necronomicon,a Cthulhu Mythos addict,or just an ordinary fan of horror stories. A great edition to any fantasy library and a good companion to other versions of The Necronomicon that the reader may have.
on August 2, 2015
Excellent narration, particularly by Keith Szarabajka and Tom Weiner. I'd never heard or read any of Lovecraft's work before, and this was a very good introduction. His style is quite unique.
For some reason, there is no track listing or even a list of the stories that are included. So here it is, along with the corresponding chapters in the audiobook:
- Dagon (Ch. 1)
- Herbert West - Reanimator (Ch. 2-7)
- The Lurking Fear (Ch. 8)
- The Rats in the Walls (Ch. 9)
- The Whisperer in Darkness (Ch. 10 - 17)
- Cool Air (Ch. 18)
- In the Vault (Ch. 19)
- The Call of Cthulhu (Ch. 20 - 22)
- The Color Out of Space (Ch. 23)
- The Horror at Red Hook (Ch. 24 - 30)
- The Music of Erich Zann (Ch. 31)
- The Shadow Out of Time (Ch. 32 - 39)
- The Dunwich Horror (Ch. 40 - 49)
- The Haunter of the Dark (Ch. 50)
- The Outsider (Ch. 51)
- The Shunned House (Ch. 52 - 56)
- The Unnameable (Ch. 57)
- The Thing on the Doorstep (Ch. 58 - 62)
- Under the Pyramids (Ch. 63)