Max's Reviews > Cthulhu's Reign

Cthulhu's Reign by Darrell Schweitzer
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it was ok
bookshelves: horror, anthology

Lovecraft's stories, and many of those written by others working with the same mythos, have hints of the things that will happen when The Stars Are Right and Cthulhu and other powerful entities return to retake the Earth. This anthology attempts to take these hints and tell stories set during or after the Lovecraftian Ends Times. I was excited by this premise, but in the end I feel like a lot of the stories didn't work out too well. The first one was neat, with the concept of a number of duplicates of Cthulhu at different scales ravaging the world, but when that ravaging turns into literal tentacle rape, things have gotten much too stupid for me. A similar issue of not managing to properly capture Lovecraft's brand of horror is unfortunately common in this collection. I think the authors are in a bit of a bind, because the hints at the end of the world Lovecraft gives indicate that for the Great Old Ones, well, to quote Doctor Who, "this isn't war this is pest control". Humanity is, at best, a bunch of cockroaches to Great Cthulhu and its ilk, but obviously it's hard to write stories focused on humans while keeping to that theme.

The best stories thus use the end as a sort of backdrop to focus on how different individuals deal with it. In that regard, Ghost Dancing and Spherical Trigonometry were perhaps two of the best. The former shows how cultists trying to curry favor with the ancient gods of madness is just so much rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, while the latter sees a rich man attempt to escape the end by building a place devoid of angles (tying into the Hounds of Tindalos). It felt a bit like Haruki Murakami's take on the Mythos, both because the author was Japanese and because the focus is on a triangle of people (something that comes back to bite the rich man in the ass). Her Acres of Pastoral Playground is also good because it explores at what cost humans will try to escape the apocalypse.

Sadly, there were also some pretty bad stories. What Brings The Void felt like a Laundry Files sort of thing, but fell apart for me because the protagonist acted as if he were superior to the Lovecraftian entities and guaranteed to escape them, which goes completely against the normal themes. The idea of Shub-Niggurath and the Black Goat of the Woods With A Thousand Young being separate entities was neat, but not enough to save the story. Vastation was just a total ugly, awful useless mess of a story - the kind I truly hate because I feel like I've wasted precious minutes of my life reading such utter dreck. The last story, Remnants, was interesting because I sort of like the premise of survivors of other dead worlds searching out survivors on Earth. However, it felt more like the start of a novel than a self-contained novella, since I kept waiting for some sort of dark twist that would snatch victory away from the protagonists. Plus, it's depiction of autism was, well, pretty bad. I also feel that a lot of these stories suffer from ignoring Lovecraft's idea that when the Great Old Ones returning, humanity will have become as violent, depraved, and deprived of morality as they are. Overall, while there were a few clever ideas here and there, this collection overall didn't wow me the way I had expected it to. I think the idea of writing about what happens when Cthulhu rises for good is a neat one, but if I want good stories about that, I'll have to keep looking.
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Reading Progress

October 8, 2011 – Shelved
November 18, 2014 – Shelved as: horror
November 18, 2014 – Shelved as: anthology
October 6, 2017 – Started Reading
October 6, 2017 –
page 73
October 9, 2017 –
page 112
October 10, 2017 –
page 176
October 14, 2017 –
page 302
October 14, 2017 – Finished Reading

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