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The Taint of Lovecraft by Stanley C. Sargent
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The Taint of Lovecraft

by Stanley C. Sargent

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Though it is something of a niche sub-genre (redundancy intentional), the Cthulhu Mythos allows for many interesting variations. Though I have to acknowledge that the stories produced are by and large pastiche, I also have a weakness for an author who can mine something new or interesting from the fevered dreams of the Old Gent. My criteria for a successful work in the Mythos revolves largely around the question of atmosphere. Whatever Lovecraft's failings as a writer, his best work summons up a rich and disturbing atmosphere, a sense of existing in a universe far larger and weirder than one can imagine.

Stanley Sargent is a talented writer and "Their Love of Craft," the first story in this collection, although an amalgam of "Forbidden Planet" and "At the Mountains of Madness," successfully conveys a sense of dread even while making Lovecraftian in-jokes. The end really stands out; not only is it italicized like early Lovecraft, but it manages to be equally grotesque and funny. And a certain twisted sense of humor is the main twist that Sargent brings to the Mythos; my only complaint being that the humor often serves to undermine whatever atmosphere has been built up. (As with the cartoonish villains in "Live Bait," Sargent's sequel to "The Shadow Over Innsmouth.")

Things are not played completely for laughs. "The Black Brat of Dunwich" (a sequel to "The Dunwich Horror") is a rather sensitive portrayal of Wilbur Whateley's humanity. (Sargent expands on some of the themes related to this story in an essay at the end of the book.)

The story I found disappointing was the one that seemed the most promising. In "Nyarlathopis" Sargent gives us a story of Nyarlathotep in ancient Egypt seeking to overthrow all temporal and religious authority to plunge the world into chaos. Sargent has an obvious fondness for the subject matter, which he's not playing for laughs, yet the story was oddly flat, an impression which did not go away with repeated readings. (Which often make the flaws, such as the strange mixing of Mythos & mythology, more salient.)

In sum, Sargent's take on the Cthulhu Mythos is intelligent and insightful with its own unique dark and twisted humor. Perhaps not quite atmospheric or original enough to transcend pastiche, but still worth a read. ( )
  CarlosMcRey | Aug 22, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0965943399, Paperback)

Do you dare unearth the secrets of cosmic horror? Within these pages lie the horrifying resolutions to mysteries that have long haunted the devotees of H.P. Lovecraft. The infamous Lovecraft did his best to warn his readers of the unspeakable abominations lurking at the edges of our cosmos, awaiting the opportunity to slaughter mankind. Although Lovecraft died unexpectedly before he could tell all, another voice has taken up the crusade where Lovecraft left off, daring to provide answers vital to humanity's survival. Lovecraft fans will be thrilled by a beautifully illustrated novella, short stories and even essays contained therein, all of them expounding on the work of the Master of Supernatural Horror. Herein resides the terrible secrets of the unholy "crawling chaos", an intergalactic monstrosity that declared war on 10th Dynasty Egypt, intent on destroying mankind and its Gods as well. Learn the truth about the alien horror that stalked the hills of Dunwich and who really was responsible for that interdimensional assault. Uncover the sinister fate of the half-human traveler who was so naive that it never occurred to him that his fellow Deep Ones might view him as a traitor around Innsmouth. And find out how the infamous "Outsider" came to be such a hideous outcast. The key to all this and more lies in yuor hands for the very first time. Introduction: "Howard and Frank and Stephen and Stan - Think of the Possibilities" by Richard Lupoff. Author's preface and acknowledgements. Story notes by Robert M. Price. STORIES: "Their Love of Craft", "All Things Come". "Live Bait", "The Insider", "The Black Brat of Dunwich", "An End To Worry", "The Starston Text", "Nyarlatophis, A Fable of Ancient Egypt", "Double Screecher". POEMS: "Old Man Cthulhu", "Dining With Ghouls or Skeleton Gelatin", "Perpetuation", "Friends in the Ends", "Necro Feel Ya", "Tentaclaws Is Coming (Undrowned)". "In The Mountains of Madness", "Night Gaunts", "Wilbur's Helpless Brother". NON-FICTION ARTICLES: "Lovecraft & 'The Evil Dead'", "Howard Phillips Wahteley, An Observation".

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:16 -0400)

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