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Author Topic: Good Lovecraftian writers (and bad ones)  (Read 3265 times)
wingsofwax
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« on: July 29, 2015, 12:38:40 PM »

Hi,

I am new here, so excuse me if this is in the wrong forum or if this topic has been done to death.

I've just begun reading some of the many different "Lovecraftian"/Cthulhu Mythos writers, and was wondering who you guys think are good - and whom you think are not that good...

I haven't found many great Lovecraftian writers, but a few stand out. Frank Bellknap Long gets it right, especially with The Space Eaters. He hits a note between horror and comedy that's just brilliant and original.

Ramsey Campbell also does a good job, although his early work is very derivative. I am currently reading a collection of his work, and I am looking forward to his later material. I hear it's good.

Lumley is okay; I've only read his first Titus Crow book, and while it was entertaining, it wasn't exactly groundbreaking. If he's written anything better, let me know. (I read in an old interview that he was proud of his "oceanic horror" stories - I love aquatic horror, so if anyone knows which one he could be talking about, let me know).

For me, two authors stand out as bad Mythos writers: Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith. Howard simply does not understand the Mythos; in his stories, humans control or are of interest to the Mythic Gods or monsters. Clark Ashton Smith uses too many fantasy tropes for my liking and doesn't get it right either. I hear he is a good poet, but I am not really into poetry...

I don't like Stephen King's mythos stories either. They're too wordy, too unfocused for my liking. He uses the Mythos as trappings, not as real ingredients. I like some of his stuff (The Stand), but even that is too verbose and aimless at times.

Let me hear who you think is good.
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laughingacademy
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2015, 05:28:32 PM »

Have you read any of Neil Gaiman's Lovecraft pastiches? "A Study in Emerald" puts characters from the Sherlock Holmes canon in a world conquered by the Great Old Ones; "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar" features two Innsmouth folk who strongly resemble a classic British comedy duo, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore; and "Only the End of the World Again" is a mashup of The Wolf Man, The Maltese Falcon, and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth."

As you can guess from the descriptions, none of these stories are meant as faithful recreations of Lovecraft's ethos or voice, but I think they're clever and a lot of fun to read.
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wingsofwax
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« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2015, 01:05:55 AM »

I've always been interested in Neil Gaiman's work, but I've never read any of it (except from excellent snippets here and there). I will try it out, thanks. Are there any collections of his Mythos stories I should look for? If not, what book(s) should I go for?

« Last Edit: July 30, 2015, 01:07:57 AM by wingsofwax » Logged
laughingacademy
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« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2015, 01:35:57 AM »

Gaiman's Lovecraftian works haven't been collected into a single volume, but aren't hard to find online. "A Study in Emerald" is available at http://www.neilgaiman.com/mediafiles/exclusive/shortstories/emerald.pdf, "Only the End of the World Again" at https://humblebundle-a.akamaihd.net/misc/files/hashed/d0d2473802f9b06ad10b9ee9f4f545ed331aa3c1.pdf, and "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar" at http://doesstuff.com/files/a/Shoggoth.htm (you can also hear Gaiman reading this story on YouTube). There's another story I forgot earlier, "I, Cthulhu," at http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/Short_Stories/I_Cthulhu, though I think it's the weakest of the bunch.
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wingsofwax
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2015, 01:44:51 AM »

Thank you, laughingacademy, you just made my day!

Read A Study In Amber and enjoyed it, although it was a little heavy on the pastiche, but still good stuff - I will be looking forward to reading Gaiman's other work.

« Last Edit: July 30, 2015, 08:19:41 AM by wingsofwax » Logged
wingsofwax
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2015, 12:55:44 PM »

Add one to the "no"-column: Mark McLaughlin. His Toadface story in the Cthulhu Megapack was way too cartoony and felt like something a teenager would have written. Fairness requires me to mention that I haven't read anything else by him, but I suspect it isn't my cup of tea.
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Twisting Gyre
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2015, 11:13:22 AM »

Since the Penguin Classic's edition is almost available, I was wondering if you guys have read Thomas Ligotti.

http://www.amazon.com/Songs-Dreamer-Grimscribe-Thomas-Ligotti/dp/0143107763

Could the HPPodcraft review his stories or is there a copyright issue?
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Tom
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2016, 12:09:00 PM »

I second Ligotti.  But it is possible to jump into his work at strike out.  Some of his stories are wordy and abstract; others are closer to sketches or fragments than complete stories.  The classic, often reprinted and most overtly Lovecraftian is The Last Feast of Harlequin.  The Night School and I Have a Special Plan for This World are also good. 

William Browning Spencer is an absolute favorite of mine, especially Resume With Monsters.  Lovecraftian goings-on in the modern workplace...bleak but also very funny. 

Don Webb's story Souvenirs from a Damnation is excellent.  I got his collection When They Came...not as strong as Souvenirs but worthwhile. 

Bad--of course there's tons of bad pastiche out there.  But something you might actually get suckered into is Fred Chappell's Dagon.  He's written some good short stories, but this novel...a story about a guy who returns to his family's home in the country and gets dragged into a weird sex and alcohol-fueled degeneration.  Seems to go on forever, with no ultimate point.  I honestly think he might have thrown in a few mythos references just to hook a few people into reading it. 
« Last Edit: May 23, 2016, 12:19:42 PM by Tom » Logged
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