" It is new, indeed for I made it last night in a dream of strange cities: and dreams are older than brooding Tyre, or the
contemplative Sphinx, or garden-girdled Babylon" The Call of Cthulhu

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"The God of Dark Laughter" by Michael Chabon



 "One of the most tedious human beings I have ever known was my own mother, who, early in my childhood, fell under the spell of Madame Blavatsky and her followers and proceeded to weary my youth and deplete my patrimony with her devotion to that indigestible caseation of balderdash and lies."



from "The God of Dark Laughter" New Yorker April 9, 2001 by Michael Chabon


The rest of the quotations will be from the same source unless otherwise noted.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2001/04/09/the-god-of-dark-laughter

I have to say at the outset that I loved this story by Chabon, the short review is please read it. The story is narrated by Edward D. Satterlee the district attorney of Yuggoghey County and is set in the same area of Pennsylvania as the town of Plunkettsburg of "In The Black Mill" fame. As district attorney Satterlee seems to direct the investigation of any complex criminal cases handled by the county detectives. This appears to be a very reasonable arrangement as we learn almost right away.

"The dead man, as I have already mentioned, was attired in a curious suit—the trousers and jacket of threadbare purple velour, the waistcoat bright orange, the whole thing patched with outsized squares of fabric cut from a variety of loudly clashing plaids. It was on account of the patches, along with the victim's cracked and split-soled shoes and a certain undeniable shabbiness in the stuff of the suit, that the primary detective—a man not apt to see deeper than the outermost wrapper of the world (we do not attract, I must confess, the finest police talent in this doleful little corner of western Pennsylvania)—had already figured the victim for a vagrant, albeit one with extraordinarily big feet.

“Those cannot possibly be his real shoes, Ganz, you idiot,” I gently suggested."

Yes the victim is a clown. A dead clown, shot and with the skin of his head removed "Like the cupped husk of a peeled orange"

Wonderful stuff, this immediately reminded me of the many clowns that haunt the works of Thomas Ligotti but here the similarity ends. Ligotti's narrators are most commonly unnamed individuals with no back story and little future. Satterlee is more akin to the hardboiled detectives of pulp fiction, who have seen it all and not liked any of it. Now an alcoholic Satterlee has ceased to bother to hide the bottle of whiskey on his desk behind the photo of his wife and son, he has plenty of backstory all of it tragic. These events and his aversion to the mystical leanings of his mother have left him cynical with a skeptic's view of the universe.

Chabon has created a perfect mythos tale in my opinion. We have dark gods with their requisite cultists, (whose appearance and behaviour are far more, can one say lovingly realized), that the rather perfunctory treatment they normally receive even by Lovecraft himself. We have a lamentably short cameo by a baboon, for a while it seemed we also had a crow but now I think not, haunting dreams, inbreeding, a salt smell, and mysterious books,

"and a couple of odd texts, elderly and tattered: one in German called “Über das Finstere Lachen,” by a man named Friedrich von Junzt, which appeared to be religious or philosophical in nature, and one a small volume bound in black leather and printed in no alphabet known to me, the letters sinuous and furred with wild diacritical marks.

“Pretty heavy reading for a clown,” Ganz said.

“It's not all rubber chickens and hosing each other down with seltzer bottles, Jack.”

“Oh, no?”

“No, sir. Clowns have unsuspected depths.”".


And in this case they will prove to be deep indeed.

The story does not adhere to the cosmicism, of Lovecraft as the possibly of a divine presence is not ruled out but the insignificance of humanity is certainly captured. As well Chabon's language and description beautifully sets the tone of Satterlee lonely rationalist's battle against a universe that appears to be anything but,

"What disheartened me was not that I viewed a crime committed out of the promptings of an evil nature as inherently less liable to solution than the misdeeds of the foolish, the unlucky, or the habitually cruel. On the contrary, evil often expresses itself through refreshingly discernible patterns, through schedules and syllogisms. But the presence of evil, once scented, tends to bring out all that is most irrational and uncontrollable in the public imagination. It is a catalyst for pea-brained theories, gimcrack scholarship, and the credulous cosmologies of hysteria." 


We are even offered hints other adventures that Satterlee and Ganz have been involved in, reference is made to the Primm case which reminded me of Robert Bloch's Ludwig Prinn, the author of De Vermis Mysteriis, or Mysteries of the Worm, but maybe it's just me.

Chabon offers an interesting take on the inspiration, genesis and marketing of his two Lovecraft pastiches and I felt it was worthwhile to quote him at some length.

Michael Chabon Attacks Prejudice Against Science Fiction

from Wired 03.07.12

https://www.wired.com/2012/03/michael-chabon-geeks-guide-galaxy/all/

Wired: "You wrote this great Lovecraftian horror story called "The God of Dark Laughter" How did that story come about, and were you surprised to see it appear in The New Yorker?"

Chabon: Well, that was actually sort of my second foray. I created this fictional character in the novel Wonder Boys of August Van Zorn, who we’re told is a writer of Lovecraftian horror fiction who had an early influence on the main character of that book, and at some point I just got the idea to try to write an August Van Zorn story.

You know, the pseudonym has always existed as a way to protect the “serious literary writer” from the taint of genre fiction, and that’s how August Van Zorn used it. In the book his real name is Albert Vetch, and he writes under the name of August Van Zorn because he’s a professor of literature, and he has to use a pseudonym for that kind of sordid fare that he’s cranking out, and that pseudonym was there for me as a kind of fig leaf too, to just imagine writing a straight piece of horror fiction that wasn’t “meta” or playing with the tropes of horror fiction in a literary way. I just wanted to write a straight-out story about awful goings-on in this small western Pennsylvania town that turned out to be rooted in some ancient cult of the Elder Ones, just straight ahead Lovecraftian Mythos kind of stuff, and I guess I felt when I did that that I had to protect myself under that pseudonym of August Van Zorn that I had created — it was a double fiction at that point.

And I wrote a story that was called “In the Black Mill,” and when I finished it I thought it came out well. I believe my agent sent it to The New Yorker, who wouldn’t even — I mean, it spent a very brief period of time on the editorial desk there before re-emerging with its dignity somewhat in tatters, and then she sent it to Playboy, to a great fiction editor who used to be at Playboy named Alice Turner, who was a great champion of all kinds of genre writing in the literary context, and she took it and wanted to publish it, but she insisted that I publish it under my own name. And god bless her, because that was right.

I wrote that story, and if I want to write a piece of Lovecraftian horror fiction, I not only have the freedom to do so, but I also ought to be proud of it, and put my name on it, and let it just go out there along with everything else that I’ve written. So that was published in Playboy, and it got a little bit of attention from the horror fiction crowd, and it got included in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, the Datlow anthology, and that encouraged me.

And so at some point a little idea popped into my head about clowns, and what if clowns really looked that way, and it wasn’t make-up at all. And there’s something really horrifying to me in that thought. I mean, “coulrophobia” has a name because a lot of people think clowns are terrifying and creepy, it’s not just John Wayne Gacy’s fault. There’s something about a clown in the abstract, with the white skin and the red mouth and all that. It’s bizarre anybody could have ever thought it was anything but horrifying, in my opinion.

But in any case, just trying to get at that, and wonder about clowns, and why they look the way they do, and in trying to answer that question, the answer occurred to me in the form of a horror story, and this time I just wrote it without any monkey business about it being by August Van Zorn or any of that, but I set it in the same fictional Van Zornian universe of Plunkettsburg, which is the western Pennsylvania town that he set all his fiction in, as we’re told in Wonder Boys. That was more for my own pleasure, it had nothing to do with wanting to wear a fig leaf of respectability anymore. That time, and maybe it’s proof that something had changed, because my agent sent that one first to The New Yorker, and they took it, and maybe part of the reason for that is because it was a little more thinkable, a little less unacceptable, for them to publish a piece of straight genre fiction, and the fact that they’ve published Stephen King since then suggests that there has been a change."

Chabon is a master of the turn of phase, and I think you can see his experience in screen writing in the dialogue. Possibly (probably) my favourite mythos tale (and obviously I have read many), I have reread it a number of times in the last few weeks and like it more each time.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Eldritch Tomes - Cthulhu's Daughters ed S. Moreno-Garcia & P. R. Stiles - Autumn Cthulhu ed. Mike Davis

I will not buy any more books especially HPL pastiche anthologies 
I will not buy any more books especially HPL pastiche anthologies 
I will not buy any more books especially HPL pastiche anthologies 
I will not buy any more books especially HPL pastiche anthologies 

Too late-cannot help self-Black paws materialize-am dragged away toward the cellar….

from The Diary of Alonzo Trapper (HPL Revision)




Saturday, March 4, 2017

New Eldritch Tomes Caitlin R. Kiernan - Agents of Dreamland and John Langan - The Fisherman

I have been waiting for the Kiernan for some time, and the 
Langan sounds great, I enjoyed his short story,
 "Outside the House, Watching for the Crows" in 
The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu 


Tor, 2017 cover photo Getty Images, Design Christine Foltzer

Description taken from a review appearing on GEEKLYINC
http://geeklyinc.com/agents-of-dreamland-review-the-static-is-the-signal/

What a beautiful description of Caitlin's work.


"It is in this that Kiernan truly is heir to Lovecraft in a way that most other writers are not. She is a scientist who has nonetheless made her uneasy bed with unknowing. For most of us, science connotes a background optimism that the world can be understood, and that there exists a path of upward momentum. In Kiernan’s works, we are reminded that even the experts know comparatively little, and that our striving will always fall short of this dying universe’s ability to confound us."

Or from The New York Journal of Books (full review contains spoilers)

http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/agents-dreamland

"It’s a bit hard to comprehend the amount of story that is told in a little over 120 pages; this owes largely to the novella’s jigsaw puzzle-like narrative structure. Agents of Dreamland is an exquisitely haunting read, full of mesmerizing prose, unsettling images, and profoundly disturbing implications. And after reading this novella, one may never view that dwarf planet at the edge of our solar system the same way again."




Word Horde, 2016, Cover design Scott R. Jones
Cover: Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast 1870 by Albert Bierstadt
Description taken from a review The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/books/review/graveyard-apartment-and-more-horror.html?_r=0

"In his superb new novel THE FISHERMAN, John Langan also manages to sustain the focused effect of a short story or a poem over the course of a long horror narrative, and it’s an especially remarkable feat because this is a novel that goes back and forth in time, alternates lengthy stretches of calm with extended passages of vigorous and complex action, and features a very, very large monster. Like Robert Aickman, Langan is a short story writer by inclination; “The Fisherman” is only his second novel, and this one took him over a dozen years to finish."

Saturday, February 25, 2017

“In the Black Mill” by Michael Chabon




 "In The Black Mill" by Michael Chabon in Lovecraft Unbound ed. Ellen Datlow 

As I mentioned on my SF site a couple of weeks ago my wife and I attended a talk at the university by author Michael Chabon. My wife is a fan of Chabon's writing and has read a number of his novels. I have to admit that despite his reputation, among many other awards he has won a Hugo, a Nebula and something called Pulitzer Prize, I had not read anything by him. I enjoyed the talk and I found it interesting that he liked to work with the tropes of genre was well as mainstream literature. Having since read three of his short stories, the steam punk flavoured "The Martian Agent, A Planetary Romance" and two Lovecraft inspired tales "The God of Dark Laughter" and “In the Black Mill,” I am impressed with his writing and really enjoyed both HPL stories especially “The God of Dark Laughter” 

This the first of two posts will deal with “In the Black Mill”.

the following quotes are taken from 

Michael Chabon Attacks Prejudice Against Science Fiction 

from Wired 03.07.12

https://www.wired.com/2012/03/michael-chabon-geeks-guide-galaxy/all/

In this interview Chabon discusses the genesis of both stories. “I created this fictional character in the novel Wonder Boys of August Van Zorn, who we’re told is a writer of Lovecraftian horror fiction who had an early influence on the main character of that book, and at some point I just got the idea to try to write an August Van Zorn story.

You know, the pseudonym has always existed as a way to protect the “serious literary writer” from the taint of genre fiction, and that’s how August Van Zorn used it. In the book his real name is Albert Vetch, and he writes under the name of August Van Zorn because he’s a professor of literature, and he has to use a pseudonym for that kind of sordid fare that he’s cranking out, and that pseudonym was there for me as a kind of fig leaf too, to just imagine writing a straight piece of horror fiction that wasn’t “meta” or playing with the tropes of horror fiction in a literary way. I just wanted to write a straight-out story about awful goings-on in this small western Pennsylvania town that turned out to be rooted in some ancient cult of the Elder Ones, just straight ahead Lovecraftian Mythos kind of stuff, and I guess I felt when I did that that I had to protect myself under that pseudonym of August Van Zorn that I had created — it was a double fiction at that point.

And I wrote a story that was called “In the Black Mill,” and when I finished it I thought it came out well. I believe my agent sent it to The New Yorker, who wouldn’t even — I mean, it spent a very brief period of time on the editorial desk there before re-emerging with its dignity somewhat in tatters, and then she sent it to Playboy, to a great fiction editor who used to be at Playboy named Alice Turner, who was a great champion of all kinds of genre writing in the literary context, and she took it and wanted to publish it, but she insisted that I publish it under my own name. And god bless her, because that was right.”

The narrator of “In the Black Mill” is an archaeology graduate student who in 1948 has come to the mill town of Plukettsburg, Pennsylvania to follow up on work done by his department chairman on Native America mound builder sites near the town. Chabon immediately tells we are in a Lovecraftian world. The mounds overlook the Miskahannok River that runs through the Yuggogheny Hills. The chancellor and chairwoman of Plunkettsburg College who is hosting our narrator is a “gaunt old girl”, does that mean witch or crone perhaps, named Carlotta Brown-Jenkin, the deceased founder of the college was Philippa Howard Murrough so we are in good if not subtle hands here. 

Two things strike the narrator right away, one is the mill itself “It stood off to the east of town, in a zone of weeds and rust-colored earth, a vast, black box, bristling with spiky chimneys, extending over some five acres or more, dwarfing everything around it. This was, I knew at once, the famous Plunkettsburg Mill. Everything was coming on, and in the half-light its windows winked and flickered with inner fire, and its towering stacks vomited smoke into the autumn twilight. I shuddered, then cried out. So intent had I been on the ghastly black apparition of the mill that I had nearly run my car off the road”(240) here is one of  “the dark Satanic Mills” of William Blake made flesh. 

The other thing he quickly notices is the number of missing limbs on the town’s male residents. ““The mill has taken a piece of half the men in Plunkettsburg,” Brown-Jenkin said, sounding almost proud.”Yes, it’s terribly dangerous work,” …. “important work.”(242). 

The mounds in question were built by the Miskahannock Indians who while they apparently left no religious artifacts, did leave evidence of human sacrifice. While the site has already been heavily excavated the narrator hopes to find artifacts that will support his contention that  the Miskahannock did worship some deity or deities and the previous contention that “The deaths had been purposeless: their justification, the cosmic purposeless of life itself.” (250) was wrong. While this archaeological work should be ample for one man the narrator has become obsessed with the mill itself. While both freight trains and trucks visit the mill everyday and most of men not just from Plunkettsburg but also from the neighbouring towns report to the gates for their regular shifts he has been unable to find out what the mill actually produces. 

What did I think? Chabon’s initial introduction of so many mythos related names seemed to indicate that this might become more spoof than tale but I was very pleasantly surprised. While I felt it slightly overlong and that some of the revelations could have threatened to be a bit ho hum, Chabon in the last few sentences weaves together all the elements to create a true sense of horror, certainly a greater one that many of the pastiches I have read by less capable writers. 

There are a number of reviews of the  “The Black Mill”
on the net. I particularly like this one at Ensuring Chapters.


The reviewer mentions his connection with a rusting steel town outside Pittsburgh as one reason it might resonate so much with him. I was born in Windsor, worked in factories during high school and university vacations, and worked in archaeology for some nine years so I can understand the allure of this tale as well. It also, for no really good reason I can name except possibly the factory setting, since nothing else is similar, conjured up one of my favourite Thomas Ligotti stories "The Red Tower" . Be that as it may “In the Black Mill” is one of the better additions to the HPL canon I have read in some time. My next post will look at Chabon’s “The God of Dark Laughter” which I think is even better.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

"The Same Deep Waters As You", Brian Hodge

"The Same Deep Waters As You", Brian Hodge, Weirder Shadows over Innsmouth, Edited by Stephen Jones, Fedogan & Bremer 2013. Cover by Les Edwards.

Stephen Jones has dedicated 3 vols. to the strange folk from Innsmouth. Shadows over Innsmouth 1994,  Weird Shadows over Innsmouth 2005, and this his third volume
Weirder Shadows over Innsmouth.

Hodge's view of the Deep One/Hybrids is far darker and stranger than that offered by Ruthann Emrys in "The Litany of Earth". Kerry Larimer is the divorced mother of one and host of a moderately successful program on the Discover channel Animal Whisperer. Kerry has some innate ability to understand animal behaviour. She describes this ability as "A combination of things. It's like receiving emotions, feelings sensory impressions, mental imagery, either still of with motion. Any or all. Sometimes it's not even that, it's just ... pure knowing." It it this ability that has resulted in Kerry's recruitment by Homeland security and her transportation to a facility described by it's commanding officer, Colonel Daniel Escovedo as an older version of Guantanomo Bay, holding the most-long term enemy combatants ever held in US. custody. Some 200 plus inhabitants of Innsmouth were rounded up in 1928, some 63 remain. Since 1942 they have been housed on an island off Washington state in a facility more impregnable zoo than prison .

"They were down to the last leg of the trip, miles of iron-gray ocean skimming three hundred feet below the helicopter, and she was regretting ever having said yes. The rocky coastline of northern Washington slid out from beneath them and there they were, suspended over a sea as forbidding as the day itself. If they crashed, the water would claim them for its own long before anyone could find them. Kerry had never warmed to the sea—now less than ever"

from "Same Deep Waters as You". 

While the youngest of the prisoners were initially capable of communicating with their captors, all have now fully changed and no communication has occurred in decades. Kerry has been brought in because for only the second time in their very long captivity the creatures behaviour has changed, 

" like they were waiting for something"

from "Same Deep Waters as You". 

I will leave you there, I hate spoilers. I have read an embarrassingly large number of Lovecraft inspired stories. Many, especially the early one had almost the same plot elements, old books, scholarly but rather clueless narrators and some variation of a giant alien. Hodge has obviously given a great deal of thought to all the ramifications of the situation he has set up. How prisons work, how government works, expanding beautifully on the few lines HPL provided on the fate of the Innsmouth captives, indeed these lines from Lovecraft's original story form the epigraph to Hodge's story

"During the winter of 1927–28 officials of the Federal government made a strange and secret investigation of certain conditions in the ancient Massachusetts seaport of Innsmouth. . . . news-followers. . . wondered at the prodigious number of arrests, the abnormally large force of men used in making them, and the secrecy surrounding the disposal of the prisoners. No trials, or even definite charges, were reported; nor were any of the captives seen thereafter in the regular gaols of the nation. There were vague statements about disease and concentration camps, and later about dispersal in various naval and military prisons, but nothing positive ever developed. "

"The Shadow Over Innsmouth” . H. P. Lovecraft (1936)

from "Same Deep Waters as You". 

Also the early stories almost inevitability features a male protagonist. Now the field has become far more inclusive with a far greater diversity of authors participating but I was still pleased to see a male writer create a fully realized female character. I also love that Kerry shares Howard's aversion to the sea. As I mentioned I feel atmosphere and good writing are essential to capture the mood of this type of story and both can be found here. 

 “It was easy to forget how remote a place could once be, even on the continental U.S., and not all that long ago, all things considered. It was easy to forget how you might live a lifetime having no idea what was going on in a community just ten miles away, because you never had any need to go there, or much desire, either, since you’d always heard they were an unfriendly lot who didn’t welcome strangers, and preferred to keep to themselves.”

from "Same Deep Waters as You." 

For me, as the quote below indicates, Brian Hodge gets Lovecraft, what elements are important and how to introduce them to a story in a way creates a new, interesting, innovative story. 

David Hodge on Lovecraft

"For me, he was working in this ideal window of time. He was a contemporary of physicists like Einstein and Max Planck and Niels Bohr. His work often taps into that zeitgeist of the frontiers of science being radically expanded, and the nature of reality being plumbed at a much deeper level, where things get very strange. At the same time, the world was a bigger, more disconnected place. There were no interstate highways. Aviation was barely underway. Global population was less than a third of today’s. No camera phones, no satellites, no TV with a 24-hour news cycle. The more remote locales he uses feel genuinely isolated and hard to get to. They’re places where superstitions die hard. They feel capable of containing weird events without them drawing much wider attention, with plenty of time to congeal into area folklore. I love how he stirs all this together."

from Rue Morgue, Why is LOVECRAFT still relevant? Seven experts weigh in
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

http://www.rue-morgue.com/single-post/2015/11/25/Why-is-LOVECRAFT-still-relevant-Seven-experts-weigh-in


This story has been reprinted several times, please see the link below to locate it.

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?1667890

I thought the plotting and characterization excellent, the introduction of action well handled, and having as I have said read many pastiches I still found the ending of The Same Deep Waters As You to be, possibly the most unsettling.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Litany of Earth by Ruthann Emrys




 The Litany of Earth by Ruthann Emrys full text at this link


Tor also offers original fiction including Ruthann Emrys brilliant "The Litany of Earth". Lovecraft’s novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth, has long been a fertile source for pastiche, with the Deep Ones and especially their hybrid offspring often little more than spies or brutal thugs in the service of the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft himself seem conflicted about the nature of the inhabitants of Innsmouth on the one hand the group pursuing the narrator is described as a horrific inhuman mob,

“ a limitless stream - flopping, hopping, croaking, bleating - surging inhumanly through the spectral moonlight in a grotesque, malignant saraband of fantastic nightmare. And some of them had tall tiaras of that nameless whitish-gold metal ... and some were strangely robed ... and one, who led the way, was clad in a ghoulishly humped black coat and striped trousers, and had a man's felt hat perched on the shapeless thing that answered for a head.

I think their predominant colour was a greyish-green, though they had white bellies. They were mostly shiny and slippery, but the ridges of their backs were scaly. Their forms vaguely suggested the anthropoid, while their heads were the heads of fish, with prodigious bulging eyes that never closed. At the sides of their necks were palpitating gills, and their long paws were webbed. They hopped irregularly, sometimes on two legs and sometimes on four. I was somehow glad that they had no more than four limbs. Their croaking, baying voices, clearly used for articulate speech, held all the dark shades of expression which their staring faces lacked.”

from The Shadow Over Innsmouth

Yet having recognized his heritage and planning his return to the ruins of Innsmouth to joins his kinsmen, the narrator states, 

“Stupendous and unheard-of splendors await me below, and I shall seek them soon. Ia-R'lyehl Cihuiha flgagnl id Ia! No, I shall not shoot myself - I cannot be made to shoot myself!

I shall plan my cousin's escape from that Canton mad-house, and together we shall go to marvel- shadowed Innsmouth. We shall swim out to that brooding reef in the sea and dive down through black abysses to Cyclopean and many-columned Y'ha-nthlei, and in that lair of the Deep Ones we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory for ever.”

from The Shadow Over Innsmouth

so which is it. I want to look at two excellent stories that offer very different views of the Deep One/hybrids, the first being “The Litany of Earth” and the second in a separate post, “The Same Deep Waters As You” by Brian Hodge. 


How does an author undo the years of stereotypes concerning the Innsmouth folk. Emrys does it brilliantly through the use of sympathetic analogies. The main character Aphra Marsh was an child when the Federal Government carried off the inhabitants of Innsmouth killing her father and removing her mother to a separate facility. Those that were left spent decades alone in desert camps far from the sea, until needing the space the government used the same camps to house the Japanese American internees during the World War II. Aphra also mentions that inhabitants of the camp were punished for speaking R’lyehn, an experience similar to the real experience of the Native American children held in residential schools in Canada who were punished for speaking their native languages in an attempt at assimilation. These subtly drawn but not belaboured parallels really enrich the story and provide us with a alternative view of the Innsmouth culture to carry the rest of the story. 

Now released from the camp, Aphra lives in San Francisco with her adopted Japanese American family and works in a bookstore. The bookstore owner Charlie’s interest in the beliefs around the Aeonist canon and the fact that he has a room full of forbidden texts allows Aphra to instruct him and us in the whole history of the world as written by the Great Race of Yith, another lovely parallel to the great historic chronicles of the universe supplied by HPL in “At The Mountains of Madness” and “The Shadow Out of Time” Mercifully Emrys’s version is more concise than Howard’s and beautifully presented as a (true) child’s fable. Indeed Aphra life seems to be back on track until she is contacted by the FBI with a very strange request. To avoid spoiling the story I will stop here but another thing that drew me to “The Litany of Earth” was the beautiful writing. HPL was capable of some pedestrian prose especially in the conclusions to his stories but he was also capable of beautifully atmospheric passages just read the opening paragraphs of “The Picture in the House”, “The Colour Out of Space” or especially “The Call of Cthulhu" and this passage by Emrys to see what I mean.

“All of man’s other religions place him at the center of creation. But man is nothing—a fraction of the life that will walk the Earth. Earth is nothing—a tiny world that will die with its sun. The sun is one of trillions where life flowers, and wants to live, and dies. And between the suns is an endless vast darkness that dwarfs them, through which life can travel only by giving up that wanting, by losing itself. Even that darkness will eventually die. In such a universe, knowledge is the stub of a candle at dusk.”

from "The Litany of Earth" by Ruthann Emrys

Emrys is offering us a brilliant contribution to the Mythos to enjoy, please give it  a try.