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Lovecraft Unbound

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,226 ratings  ·  115 reviews
The stories are legendary, the characters unforgettable, the world horrible and disturbing. Howard Phillips Lovecraft may have been a writer for only a short time, but the creations he left behind after his death in 1937 have shaped modern horror more than any other author in the last two centuries: the shambling god Cthulhu, and the other deities of the Elder Things, the ...more
Paperback, 421 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Dark Horse Books
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  3,226 ratings  ·  115 reviews

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May 08, 2010 rated it liked it
I thought about rating this one 4 stars, because of a number of really fine stories. However, there are at least a 100 pages wasted on pretty lame material. I think when you get to a 100, the sin for an anthology becomes unforgivable. I have notes for the individual stories, but I left them elsewhere. Maybe I'll put them up later. In the mean time, the good stuff:

The Crevasse, by Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud
Cold Water Survival, by Holly Phillips
Houses under the Sea, by Caitlan Kiernan (Best
Nancy Oakes
I am rating this one at 3.5, the highest rating I've given an Ellen Datlow collection so far. Having just finished four other books she's edited, I have to say that this one has a wider range of good stories than the previous four volumes of The Best Horror of the Year do individually. It's still a mixed bag though, with some stories much better than the rest, some following under the category of "good and I'd probably look for more by their authors," and some that just didn't do it for me. In s ...more
Mattia Ravasi
Aug 25, 2016 rated it liked it

A collection of Lovecraftian stories that are often not really Lovecraftian, and that are sometimes not that great even when they are. It's not actively bad (except in a few cases), but as douchy as that sounds, you're probably better off re-reading the actual thing, or why not, McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories.

Joyce Carol Oates' and Michael Chabon's stories are still both masterpieces.
Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This is not a collection of Mythos stories, or even stories necessarily set in Lovecraft's world. It seems the idea was to collect stories inspired by the tone in much of Lovecraft's work. Bleak hopelessness, psychological strain, that sort of thing. Oh, there are indeed things recognizable as Old Ones, but none of the familiar ones. So if you're a fan of Lovecraft, you're likely to enjoy the style the authors were aiming for, but feel somewhat mislead with what you get. Be forewarned.

May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A most excellent anthology despite Michael Chabon's one weak entry. Everything else does swimmingly well or at least is not drowning in silliness and mediocrity

Earlier I commented about this ill advised submission or solicitation by Chabon. Datlow should have sent it back just my teachers said

I'm about a third of the way through this now and I was pretty much enjoying this until I came to the Michael Chabon story. This has to be the worst "Lovecraftian" story ever written, it's not even tongue
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anthology, horror
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of "Lovecraft inspired" works of short fiction by various authors. I was dubious going in because the introduction from the editor states up front that she refused to put any stories in that have direct references to famous Lovecraft stories. Great, no Lovecraft in a Lovecraft anthology, I thought.

Not to worry, the editor only half followed through on her threat. I think the added challenge of having to do Lovecraft stories without relying on his famous stories improved the
I love the horror genre, especially in short story form, to which I think it’s ideally suited, but I’m not as well read in the classics as I’d like. I haven’t read any Lovecraft stories until recently: when I checked out this book, I checked out a book of Lovecraft stories to read first, so I could experience what I’d heard about his writing style and his themes firsthand. I read (more like skimmed, to be honest) five stories before giving up entirely. I hate to admit it, but even though I find ...more
Jan 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sff
I'm neither a Lovecraft fan nor a horror fan, so possibly my opinion on this book is not of much value to anybody. However, I'm going to give it anyway.

There are twenty stories in this book. I abandoned fourteen for being either boring (you have to get my attention with human desires; life-or-death adventures on the ice don't cut it), amateurish (starting way too early, thunking into the dreaded past perfect for a nice long slog through the backstory, awkwardly lurching from emotion to emotion),
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
An all original themed anthology without a significant share of clunkers and/or telegraphed stories (telegraphed to fit the theme) is a rarity. Each author’s take on the Lovecraft’s cosmic horror obsession is varied, and yes, creepy as hell.
Nov 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
I really wanted to like this book, and I usually love Mythos stories by other writers. The Mythos is so badass that it's kind of hard to fuck it up. But these stories, mostly they had nothing at all to do with Lovecraft. I know that one of the stated aims of the editor in the introduction was to, you know, see how far they could go with Lovecraft, but after a certain point it just becomes supernatural fiction, and you get the feeling that this book was named Lovecraft Unbound to get it to sell. ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a nice little collection of Lovecraftian fiction, with a lot of variety too. It's got humor, irony, horror and a good splatter of gore when needed.

Some of my favorites:
"The Crevasse" is a great way to start the book off -- Antarctica explorers discover a staircase in a crevasse, and something more.
"Catch Hell" is a story like Arthur Machen could have written and is one of the best here.
"Mongoose" is a quirky, affectionate, feel-good sci-fi/horror tale.
"The Din of Celestial Birds" is o
Heidi Ward
An excellent new-Lovecraftian anthology. Each of the tales is unique; none of them lean too heavily on a mythos pastiche, instead largely paying hommage to Lovecraft in the form of evocative squirmy things and an enormous and mindlessly carnivorous universe. Highlights come from Laird Barron, Caitlin Kiernan, Michael Chabon, and Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I found Lovecraft in graduate school and fell instantly in love," writes Sarah Monette, coauthor of one of the stories included in this anthology, "not only with his darkly elaborate cosmology... but also with his own love affair with the English language. And somehow, for Lovecraft and for me, the two things go together...."

Monette's point is well taken. It wasn't until I started reading Lovecraft Unbound that the following fact, obvious in retrospect, washed over me: the author that made me c
Jan 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I was disappointed with this collection, but then that was partly my fault as my expectations were askew. If I'm honest I didn’t read the introduction until I’d read all of the tales. (It sounds perverse, but I never read introductions until I’ve finished reading the rest of the book. Primarily because, if you have a piece of classic fiction you’ve never encountered before, the introduction is often quite happy to ruin the entire plot). And the thing is, the introduction does make it entirely cl ...more
Usually when I tackle a short story collections there will be at least one or two duds from my point of view, but while there were a few here that I didn't like as much as others they were all rather inventive and there wasn't a one that I felt like saying "Why did they include THAT in here?" over.

My without-a-doubt favourite is Mongoose. It's pretty much straight-out sci-fi with a Lovecraft bent, I can honestly say I was sad when it finished. Looking up Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette's work I
Martha Sockel
After I read Ellen Datlow's 'Poe' collection, I have been looking forward to picking up this book, and I have to say it didn't disappoint.

I see it's got a few low stars, but I do wonder if some people were expecting a more straight-forward collection of pastiches. The stories here are inspired by Lovecraft, but mostly not Mythos stories themselves. It is the themes of cosmic horror, the indifference of the universe to humanity and our beliefs and science, and intrusion of the unexplained and unk
All short story anthologies are doomed to ups and downs; this is no exception. Lovecraft provides wide but often transparent (more often in theme than in mythos) and occasionally repetitive inspiration, especially in the stories written expressly for this collection, a problem exacerbated by post-story blurbs where authors provide two-penny insights into Lovecraft's work. But Datlow is an accomplished collator: the selection is broad, the variety of styles--sometimes ranging too far: there's a f ...more
Marie Michaels
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is not the collection of Lovecraftian tales that I necessarily expected, based on the title, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. Most of the authors take a step back from Lovecraft and incorporate his themes and mood - creepiness, despair, dangerous knowledge, dangerous explorations - more than the substance of his works, although there are definite hints of the be-tentacled that lurk. I enjoyed all of the stories and appreciated that the authors took the Lovecraftian themes in different d ...more
H. Anne Stoj
Jan 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, anthology
I have to admit that I'm a huge fan of reading works based on Lovecraft's or influenced by him and I tend to really enjoy Ellen Datlow as she draws typically wonderful pieces together from all over the place. This, in that regard, wasn't an exception to the rule. Nearly all of the stories were well done and the influence of HP could truly be found. Oddly for me the ones that I liked best (with the exception of Mongoose which took place in space) were set in Antarctica and Lovecraft's own Mountai ...more
Alison C
Mar 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Lovecraft Unbound, edited by Ellen Datlow, is just what it says it is - an anthology of horror stories inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Some of the stories are originals and some are reprints, the oldest being Michael Chabon's "In the Black Mill," originally published in 1997. As with any anthology, there are some stories here that work for me, and some that don't; no doubt other readers will respond to stories that don't appeal to me and vice versa. In particular, I loved Richard Bowes' ...more
Feb 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Not being a big Lovecraft fan, I can't really say why I picked this up -- but I was pleasantly surprised with it. The quality of the writing is consistently good, with the stories being inspired by Lovecraft, rather than imitations of his work.

My favourite story was Mongoose, by Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear -- it was suspenseful, but had a lovely charm to it, with engaging characters.

Sadly, the weakest for me was In The Black Mill, by Michael Chabon. I really expected to love this one, but fou
Dan Henk
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think Lovecraft often gets a bad rap. People read that he influenced the modern greats, everyone form authors like Stephen King and Clive Barker, to movie makers like John Carpenter and Wes Craven, and then dive into his books expecting the same fare. He wrote for a different era. His mind-bending, first person surrealistic approach to a creeping, nameless horror stunned and fascinated huge segments of early century America. The America that read, that is, which wasn't nearly what it is today. ...more
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fantastic and atypical collection of Lovecraft-inspired tales. Note that I didn't say 'Lovecraftian' because they aren't mythos, and there isn't a single pastiche among them.

My favorites in this collection are:

Brian Evenson - Din of Celestial Birds
Holly Phillips - Cold Water Survival
Caitlin R Kiernan - Houses under the Sea
Marc Laidlaw - Leng
Michael Shea - The Recruiter
Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear - Mongoose
Laird Barron - Catch Hell
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is my first time reading anything related to HP Lovecraft. I found the style interesting and very much my thing. I didn't care for all the stories included in this collection, but most of them were very well written. It have me a greater understanding of what to expect from H.P. Lovecraft's work. ...more
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I do enjoy reading stories that were inspired by Lovecraft. This was a very fun and creepy collection. Not all of them were winners, there were one or two that didn't strike my fancy but otherwise, I liked this collection. ...more
Brendan Moody
May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Once upon a time I wrote part of a dreadful H.P. Lovecraft pastiche. I mention this not because you care about the many pieces of fiction I've abandoned over the years, but to offer another small piece of evidence for the truth Ellen Datlow mentions in her introduction to this eminently enjoyable anthology: unimaginative Lovecraft imitations are everywhere. People treat his stories like a mathematical formula: strained antiquated prose plus unspeakable tentacled evil equals masterwork of horror. ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Lovecraft Unbound is a collection of twenty short stories inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s weird fiction. In her introduction, Ellen Datlow writes that she was looking for stories that were “subtly Lovecraftian” rather than the more obvious “pastiches” that make up a lot of Lovecraft-themed anthologies:

‘I asked for stories inspired—thematically and possibly—by plot points in Lovecraft’s mythos. What I wanted was variety: in tone, setting, point of view, time.’

Out of the twenty, the following six s
Josh Towzey
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it

The Crevasse
Houses Under the Sea
Marya Nox
Catch Hell
Mouldy Squid
Jun 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Another excellent anthology of horror from legendary editor Ellen Datlow. Here she has collected 20 tales influenced by Howard Phillips Lovecraft, best known for his "Cthulhu Mythos" stories from the first three decades of the 20th Century. This anthology is just what I like to see from new Lovecraftian fiction, that is, these stories are new.

Lovecraft is one of those authors who are famous, not just for their own work, but for pastiche. Too often Lovecraftian fiction is but pale imitation of th
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Ellen Datlow has been an award-winning editor of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror for over twentyfive years.

She is editor of the Best Horror of the Year and has edited or co-edited a large number of award-winning original anthologies. Her most recent are Supernatural Noir, Naked City, Blood and Other Cravings, The Beastly Bride, Teeth, Trolls Eye View, and After (the last three with Ter

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