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Resonator: New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond Paperback – March 13, 2015
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That is the theme for this anthology. Imaginations run wild with this book full of weird possibilities, from a mad Buddhist suddenly finding enlightenment, to a sleazy salesman who just wanted to make a few bucks, to a test pilot doomed to everlasting torment, to a little girl who finds a new appreciation for cats who seem to stare at nothing. There is some truly great stuff in this book. I only give it 4 stars because not all of the stories were to my personal taste. But there was more than plenty there to make it worthwhile! If I could give it 4 and 1/2 stars I would.
Some of my personal favorites include "IPO" by Darren Brightman, "Film Maudit" by Christopher Slatsky, and "The Wizard of OK" by Scott Nicolay.
This book comes with my strongest recommendation for fans of both science fiction-horror and body-horror.
It certainly helps that editor Scott R. Jones has rounded up some of the most promising up-and-coming writers associated with the "New Weird" label. It's also to this anthology's advantage that instead of Cthulhu & Co., it looks to Lovecraft's relatively unexplored "From Beyond" for inspiration. In that story, included here, a mad inventor creates a machine that stimulates the pineal gland in a way that enables humans to see otherwise invisible things.
From this promising premise, the writers of "Resonator" explore everything from sex (Matthew M. Bartlett's funny, lubricious "Machine Will Start When You Are Start") to the military (Jones' own "Turbulence") to Wall Street (Darren Brightman's ingenuous "IPO") to Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground (Anya Martin's superb "Resonator Superstar!"). Two of the stories that will probably stick with me the longest are Christopher Slatsky's "Film Maudit," which recalls the best of Ramsey Campbell in its grim urban setting and shabby gorehound film festival milieu, and Scott Nicolay's "The Wizard of OK," which finds cosmic horror not in Elder Gods or the Necronomicon, but in the bad decisions and misspent lives we can't undo.
The quality of the writing is superb throughout - there's not a tiresome Lovecraft pastiche in the bunch. It's a collection that varies in tone from funny to bleakly depressing, and is all the better for it - "Resonator" suggests there's still life in HPL yet. Highly recommended.
(I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the wonderfully psyechedelic cover art by Nick Gucker - too many small presses seem to regard covers as an afterthought, and this is one more way in which Martian Migraine gets it right with "Resonator."
Cody Goodfellow and Matthew M. Bartlett, in particular, take the sexual implications of Crawford Tillinghast's curious device to disturbing and creative ends. Other favorites come from Christopher Slatsky, Christine Morgan, Orrin Grey, and the always reliable Scott Nicolay.
I have been getting really burned out on Lovecraftian anthologies - there are SO many of them, and like most anthos, the stories tend to be a mixed bag. There are usually a couple of stories I really enjoy, a couple that don't move me at all, and a majority that fall somewhere in between. RESONATOR hits my sweet spot, with all sixteen stories being at least Good and more often Very Good or Great, at least in my opinion.
In addition to the engrossing stories, the cover features knock-out art from Nick "The Hat" Gucker. This is a especially nice one, even for Nick, who has a solid portfolio of great horror and bizarro art.
There is really nothing not to like here unless you are a Lovecraft purist. Old Howard would undoubtedly be very uncomfortable with some of the content in this book, but that is one of the good things about it. Taking Lovecraft's central themes and then running far away from his world to do other things with them is much more interesting to me than reading yet another pseudo-pastiche of hoary tropes and unpronounceable names. This was a very enjoyable book, recommended for both open-minded Lovecraftians and general enthusiasts of modern weird horror.