Saturday, February 03, 2007

By H.P. Lovecraft

While Lovecraft is best known for his tales of Cthulhu and other beings that might have been demons, extra-terrestrials, gods or all three, he wrote many stories that defied genre limits by mixing fantasy, horror, and science fiction.

This collection pulls together quite a few of these. “The Lurking Fear” is classic HPL with a strange race of inbred hill-billies in an even stranger part of New York. “Dagon” and “The Temple” both mix allusions to classical civilization with u-boat warfare in the Great War.

HPL was a genealogist by avocation and an antiquarian at heart. His own family had had been destroyed by corruption of the blood (literally, his father contracted syphilis and later passed it to his mother). Tainted bloodlines and ancestral degeneracy figure prominently in “Arthur Jermyn”. HPL moved from looking down on the freaks of “The Lurking Fear” to finding them in the most refined company. “The Outsider” takes adolescent angst to a new level, with one of HPL’s most poignant tales and most appealing narrative voice.

The book winds up with a very strong closer: “The Shadow over Innsmouth” surely one of HPL’s all-time best tales, reprising the horror of “The Lurking Fear”, but in a far more advanced and challenging way. It just might have the reader looking at his own family tree.

While few of these stories will make the top ten list of HPL stories, they are all effective in their own ways, little windows on the creative, multi-faceted mind of H.P. Lovecraft.
-Dave Hardy

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