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Space Eldritch Kindle Edition
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- ASIN : B009Y5S5G8
- Publisher : Cold Fusion Media (27 October 2012)
- Language : English
- File size : 1528 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 250 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 901,810 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Being an anthology, I feel it is only fair to review each story individually.
“Arise Thou Niarlat from Thy Rest” by D.J. Butler. I didn't enjoy this one. Butler runs three storylines in different time periods that are somehow all connected because...I don't know. Everything that has ever happened, is happening, or will happen is happening simultaneously. Time is irrelevant? It was very disjointed. 2 stars.
“Space Opera” by Michael R. Collings. Got off to a rough start, but gradually improved and ultimately finished strong. Dark humor effectively employed. Haughty hive aliens of stupendous power colonize worlds with the offspring of their god, pre-existing life forms on said worlds irrelevant. That is, until they get to an Earth (at least, I think it was Earth) in the distant future. 3 stars.
“The Menace Under Mars” by Nathan Shumate. This is where the anthology really find its footing. Set in an alternate history where amazing ideas about physics came to fruition, humanity has started the process of terraforming Mars. Before its irrevocably lost beneath a sea, a pair of scientists set off to investigate a possible archeological site that could prove the existence of a long dead Martian race. Shumate utilizes elements of Lovecraft's style when confronting things that the mind struggles to comprehend but does so without being imitative. At one point it was so intense that my daughter unwittingly startled me when she walked silently up to me. 4.5 stars.
“Gods in Darkness” by David J. West is a pulpy, Cold War era tale complete with a chiseled chin protagonist, commies, and an elitist scientist. Although the characters were two-dimensional, the story was entertaining. Eldritch aspect was slight. 3 stars.
“The Shadows of Titan” by Carter Reid and Brad R. Torgersen was a creepy tale about the first human expedition to Titan and what they discovered. While you know that the proverbial shit is going to hit the fan, the authors write it well and offer an ending that I didn't see coming. 4 stars.
“The Fury in the Void” by Robert J. Defendi takes place in some distant future where civilization is circling the drain. Technical knowledge is preserved by religious orders that have merged faith and science in a disappointing fashion. A Russian ship is chasing a Greek ship as the latter has committed murderous atrocities against their people. As spaceships are sacred due to their scarcity, combat is carried out through boarding actions. Think of it as the eldritch version of "Day of the Dove" episode of Star Trek. 3 stars.
One of the themes in Lovecraft's work was that there existed forbidden knowledge which was too much for human comprehension and often led to an individual's descent into madness. Another is that our scientific skills far outpace our wisdom to properly utilize their discoveries. Howard Tayler masterfully blends these themes together in “Flight of the Runewright.” In the story, a man seeks to start a new life in a colony on a new world, but to get there, he must board a strange starship engraved with mystic runes. Tayler leads the reader down a path where bad things are going to happen, but until his big reveal, the reader doesn't know just how bad they're going to go. 5 stars.
Average of the stories: 3.5 stars. Like trick-or-treating, it's a mixed bag of mostly average loot with a couple scores that make it worth the effort. Of course, YMMV.
Unfortunately, I have to add that most of the stories needed another round of proofreading. I wasn't looking to take a critical eye to this, but the typos and grammatical errors leapt out of the page at me and proved distracting.
Without a doubt, though, the best of the stories was "The Gods of Darkness" by David J. West who I have enjoyed the works of in other Lovecraftian anthologies. That is the story of the Cold War in an alternate history, a mad wizard, sex, and weaponized magic which has a delightfully bombastic ending. I felt this was an homage to classic Science Fiction of the 1950s and 1960s with the sultry Russian femme fatale just being icing on the cake.
This isn't really classic Lovecraftian horror where everything is just off to the side but a half-way homage to B-movie horror with all the gore and screams expected as well as more lofty ideals of Lovecraft's bizarrities. In HPL's world, the sci-fi horror intrudes on a 1930s world while here, it's the fantasy and supernatural intruding on a sci-fi world. Either way, it manages to work surprisingly well.
I can't complain about any of the stories as "The Shadows of Titan", "The Fury in the Vodi", and "Flight of the Runewright" all have their appeals. I will say, however, that I'm picking up the next volume of the book immediately.
And now, for a story by story analysis:
“Arise Thou Niarlat From Thy Rest” by D.J. Butler
Total crap. I confess I only read half the story and then moved on. This story was such a mess that I almost put the entire book down. I understand that Butler was trying to weave together three different timelines in a way that was “Lovecraftian mysterious,” but the execution was jumbled, garbled, miserable, and WAY more trouble than it was worth. I’d be more specific, but then I’d have needed to understood what I was reading - I didn’t. I did understand that he was trying to imitate Lovecraft's occasional opacity, but Lovecraft was never opaque for the sake of being opaque. He used big words, and he dealt with conspiracies, but each moment was still understandable, and you always new how one paragraph led to the next to the next and so on. “Arise…” just wanted to make itself complicated, and there was no fun in unraveling these complications. I’m really surprised this is the story that was chosen to lead the pack because it was awful. Both the SciFi/Lovecraft nerd and the English teacher in me hated this story.
1 out of 5 stars
“Space Opera” by Michael R. Collings
This story also started in an opaque manner, but the author had enough sense to add context so that some of the complications could be quickly worked out allowing the reader to move forward. This one is a story of an invading alien species that butts heads with some Earthlings. You kinda think you know where the tale is going, and then it doesn’t go there - but where it does go makes me wish that this story was an opening chapter in a novel because I’d love to read more about both the aliens and the Earthling that Collings created. “Space Opera” was still a bit opaque for my tastes, but not so much that I couldn’t understand and enjoy it. At least this story started Space Eldritch back on the road to redemption. Also Collings’ dark humor throughout the story is quite entertaining in an evil sorta way - those poor little numbers.
3 out of 5 stars
“The Menace Under Mars” by Nathan Shumate
Finally, this little collection of novellas hits it’s stride. “Menace” is about a survey crew on Mars looking to do a little terraforming when they hit an unexpected bump - though if you look at the cover of the book, perhaps it’s not so unexpected. Shumate’s story is written to be a story’s story that’s meant to be read, understood, and enjoyed, and not “decoded” like the previous two stories. I love decoding mysteries, but not writing styles (I get enough of that when I grade whatever abomination my freshmen classes have turned in that week). A very enjoyable story of astronauts being hunted by...well..by things that if you could see them without going mad...but you can’t.
4 out of 5 stars
“Gods in Darkness” by David J. West
West’s story is going to wrankle some readers. He goes out of his way to make this story feel like it was written in 1965 complete with rockets, specious science, bloody hand-to-hand space combat, evil Soviets, a wimply side kick, an evil villain who is just short a twirling mustache, an easily bedded vixen, an evil in the dark, and (of course) a ‘Murican! Hero! who does not actually fit any modern definition of a hero. This is pulp fiction at its most pulpyness. I’m hard to offend, so I got a big kick out of this story. I’m sure some with more modern sensibilities might be put off by it, but I liked it.
4 out of 5 stars
“The Shadows of Titan” by Carter Reid and Brad R. Torgersen
This story is actually quite similar in style and plot structure to “The Menace Under Mars.” This is not a bad thing, just a statement of fact. However, this story takes place on Titan rather than Mars. Yup. Also a very enjoyable story.
4 out of 5 stars
“The Fury in the Void” by Robert J. Defendi
How to explain “The Fury in the Void”...well, some quasi-religious, muscle-bound space marines become ENRAGED, fight, kill, and mayhem other quasi-religious, muscle-bound space marines. Hate abounds and fuels. Considering how hokey my summary sounds, it’s actually written quite well.
4 out of 5 stars
“Flight of the Runewright” by Howard Taylor
This was the story and the author that I bought this collection for, and it was the best story of the lot. Not simply satisfied with tentacles, murder, space, mayhem and evil books filled with evil writings, Taylor takes his tentacles, murder, space and mayhem and drops them all into a spaceship powered by and covered in evil writings. The moral of the story, Don’t look at the spaceship. Just let its magic happen. Don’t ask questions because you don’t want to know the answers. Taylor’s story was the most original, most thought out, and most Why-didn’t-he-turn-it-into-a-novel?!!? By far the best.
5 out of 5 stars.
P.S. I know this books is published by a small-time publisher, and I love small-time publishers for publishing books like this, but dudes, you gotta get a better editor. There were mistakes in abundance, and even one in the third paragraph of the Forward. ‘M just sayin’.