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Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos: Volume 1 by H.…

Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos: Volume 1 (1971)

by H. P. Lovecraft, August Derleth (Author), August Derleth (Editor), Robert E. Howard (Author), Henry Kuttner (Author)3 more, Frank Belknap Long (Author), J. Vernon Shea (Author), Clark Ashton Smith (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (1)

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More than anything else, this collection serves as a reminder that imitation, passionately sincere as it might be, rarely produces work of the same quality as that of the master. "The Call of Cthulhu", one of Lovecraft's first really strong stories, is recommended to even the casual fan (despite the fact that Lovecraft himself considered it "rather middling"). With this single tale, he inadvertently spawned a mini-movement in horror fiction.

Slithering cosmic terror was not Robert E. Howard's bag, and it shows in "The Black Stone". August Derleth, who was pretty good when he wasn't aping HPL, showcased two novella-length works in this volume. One of them, "The Dweller in Darkness", isn't bad...but, again, Derleth was no Lovecraft. After "The Call of Cthulhu", the most purely enjoyable story in the book is J. Vernon Shea's "The Haunter of the Graveyard"; Shea managed to strike a nice balance between grisly horror and tongue-in-cheek humor (the latter being an element sorely lacking in the other tales). Nothing unreadable here, but nothing that's going to knock you out of your chair, either. For a more successful example of the imitation of Lovecraft's style, see "Sticks" by Karl Edward Wagner. ( )
  Jonathan_M | Sep 7, 2016 |
Will add reviews of individual stories as I get around to 'em, not necessarily in order.

**** The Haunter of the Graveyard, by J. Vernon Shea

A host of a local horror show lives in a gothic house on the edge of a forgotten and foreboding cemetery, where strange noises and odd shadows keep watch. He loves to spend time there reading his Lovecraft tales atop a tombstone, but that might not be such a great idea...

Very enjoyable tale.
  Evans-Light | Nov 8, 2015 |
All the authors in this book were personal friends or correspondents of H. P. Lovecraft. Several are distinguished authors in their own right. One, Clark Ashton Smith, could arguably be said to have made some fine contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos. But, apart from Frank Belknap Long's "The Hounds of Tindalos", none of this collection's stories are worth reading on their own merits.

It was Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" which gave the Mythos its name. While not Lovecraft's personal best, it is certainly one of the central Mythos stories. It has held up well after more than 60 years. That can not be said for many of his imitators. As this collection shows, there's some alchemy at work in Lovecraft's prose beyond the characteritic plot structures and adjectives, the props of gods/ETs and forbidden books, a power based in a carefully constructed paranoia with a decided scientific air about it -- and not reworked mythology.

The worse offender here is the editor, personal friend, and arguable savior of Lovecraft's reputation: August Derleth. But Derleth's introduction shows he misunderstood Lovecraft. Instead of extraterresterial gods who care as little for human concerns as we do for sidewalk bugs, Derleth recast Lovecraft's work of cosmic callousness and amorality in to a Christian tale of Good and Evil. Where others of Lovecraft circle saw elaborate in-jokes via shared allusions of fearful tomes and alien races, Derleth chose to establish a systematic mythology of elementals. He imposed specificity on what had been disturbing, but vague. Derleth's two tales here, "The Dweller in Darkness" and "Beyond the Threshold" use Lovecraft plot devices and blasphemous books and allusions to Lovecraftian locales and are told in a Lovecraft prose style, but they are pallid imitations whose main point of interest is that Derleth chose his own native locale, Wisconsin, for the stories just as Lovecraft used his native New England. Derleth's air elemental, Ithaqua, is mildly interesting.

Smith made his own ornate additions to the Mythos, but the best aren't here. His "The Return of the Sorcerer" is sometimes cited by Smith fans as his worst story. It's not bad as a biter-bitten tale, but it shows none of the ornate brilliance of his other work. Indeed, there's nothing except the byline to show it is a Smith story. "Ubbo-Sathla" is better and about the author of one of those legendary books Lovecraftian stories are full of. Still, it's not very memorable. Smith frequently did much better.

Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane, shows up here with "The Black Stone". It's notable only for featuring Howard's addition to the library of suppressed books: _Unausssprechlichen Kulten_.

Long's "The Hounds of Tindalos" succeeds by following in the thematic footsteps of Lovecraft's "The Dreams in the Witch-House" and his collaboration with E. Hoffman Price, "Through the Gates of the Silver Key". The ideas of Einstein and John Dee become "strange bedfellows" in a linking of extradimensions, and the entities that haunt their strange angles, with magic. Long's "The Space-Eaters" features brain eating aliens, and it's main attraction is the character of Howard, a horror writer who stands in for Long's friend Howard Lovecraft. (The narrator is Frank.) One wonders if Howard's thoughts on his predecessors in horror fiction, sharper than those on the same writers in Lovecraft's Supernatural Horror in Literature, were taken directly from Long's conversations with Lovecraft.

J. Vernon Shea brings Lovecraft up to date by having his unfortunate protagonist be the tv host for shlocky horror movies. Theatrically living near a cemetary, he runs afoul of the spirit of a deceased sorceror. The best bit here is that the host's favorite authors are Thomas Peacock and Jane Austen and not H. P. Lovecraft and Arthur Machen -- though he finds time to read them in the graveyard.

There's nothing wrong with Henry Kuttner's "The Salem Horror', a reworking of "The Dreams in the Witch-House". But there's nothing exceptional either. Certainly nothing even approaching his work with C. L. Moore.

But that's the case with most of these stories. You won't be angry or upset you read them -- but most won't linger in your mind either or surprise you. ( )
1 vote RandyStafford | Dec 18, 2011 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
H. P. Lovecraftprimary authorall editionscalculated
Derleth, AugustAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Derleth, AugustEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Howard, Robert E.Authormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Kuttner, HenryAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Long, Frank BelknapAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Shea, J. VernonAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, Clark AshtonAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Holmes, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennington, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There are various editions of "Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos", many without a volume number.

Far as I can tell, any marked as Volume 1 will have been published between 1971 and 1975 and feature exactly ten stories proper (leaving aside essays, forewords and the like) by six authors:  The Call of Cthulhu, The Return of the Sorcerer, Ubbo-Sathla, The Black Stone, The Hounds of Tyndalos, The Space-Eaters, The Dweller in Darkness, Beyond the Threshold, The Salem Horror and The Haunter of the Graveyard. 

The 1971 edition lacks an ISBN; all the other four, from 1973-1975, have them.

Volumeless editions, including the original 1969 edition, will feature more tales besides these ten.  In the 1969 edition those were Robert Bloch's "The Shambler from the Stars", "The Shadow from the Steeple", "Notebook Found in a Deserted House"; HPL's "The Haunter of the Dark"; J. Ramsey Campbell's "Cold Print"; Brian Lumley's "The Sister City" and "Cement Surroundings"; James Wade's "The Deep Ones" and Colin Wilson's "The Return of the Lloigor".  Several editions of Volume 2 include those and sometimes a few others.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345032268, Mass Market Paperback)

A collection of macabre tales reprinted from the golden age of pulps.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:36 -0400)

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