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The Riddle of Cthulhu by Ray Emerson

The Riddle of Cthulhu

by Ray Emerson

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I was warned away from this book by several Cthulhu mythos fans I respect but I then picked up Ultimate WMD, started it and realized it was a sequel to The Riddle of Cthulhu. I broke down and got a copy. The Riddle of Cthulhu is by Ray Emerson, published in 2003 by Llumina Press. For such a dog, the list price is an extravagant $18.95, discounted currently to $14.78 by Amazon. Page count is 232, although there is a several page introduction not counted in the total. There is no cover art to speak of. The author was evidently given little editorial help as there were quite a few scattered typographical errors, letter deletions and word substitutions, for example do for due. Mr. Emerson had retired as a physicist when he decided to write a science fiction novel, I guess. Well if Jacqueline Susann can write a bunch of bestsellers I guess anyone can give it a try. And Cthulhu is in the public domain so anyone is allowed to use the name.

This book was mind numbingly bad. I read previous reviews with a surreal sort of disbelief. There was nothing to like here. Where to start?

The dialogue was incredibly amateurish. Here is a passage where an apparently ancient and wise man is speaking to the heroine. She says: "I don't believe you! You're just a dried up old fart!" His reply: "Thou hast much spunk, Siren!" Lots of exclamation points! Exclamation points are a prop authors tend to use to try to give punch to prose that has none on its own. The sex (and there was a lot of it) was not just leering, it was puerile. "Kiss my nipples! Pinch them! Yes - - but not that hard!" There were pages of this drivel. The Cthulhu mythos parts are really confined to Mr. Emerson lifting Lovecraft's place names and creature names, with no apparent understanding of Lovecraft's cosmic vision. Instead of alien immensities, incomprehensible and utterly foreign, the Mother gave birth/created Yahweh and his brother, Cthulhu, who is also known as Satan. This is just plain bad mythos fiction. So what does Cthulhu say, seeing as he is shackled under a giant stone on a mountaintop on the planet R'lyeh circling the star Aldebaran? "Tell me the answer to my riddle! Tell me now or I will commence my erotic experiments on your lush body!" We get further butchery where Miskatonic University is moved from Arkham to Mystic, Connecticut and renamed Arkham University, for no good reason. We get tedious physics lectures that have no place in the narrative, poorly researched genetics and an inexplicable insertion of names and characters from Homer's poems.

Do yourself a favor and avoid this like the plague. I feel obligated to try to wade through Ultimate WMD as I already bought it, but I am not happy about the prospect. ( )
  carpentermt | Sep 21, 2010 |
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