Taking up where I left off, I’ll discuss some of the longer works in the anthology. I arbitrarily divided the works as those eight or more pages long and those shorter. First up, “Secrets in Storage” by Tim Pratt and Greg Van Eekhout. It’s a straightforward tale of a man who looks in a mysterious box. The set-up is up to the minute Americana. A man spends his whole nest egg on the contents of a storage locker. He goes with a hunch and of course exhibits more guts than brains when he reacts to an impossible scenario by literally climbing into the paradox. I like the ending. It reminds me of the ending of Heinlein’s “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag. Only instead of no mirrors, no boxes or pools. It’s a refreshing change of pace.
Next is “The Substance in the Sound” by W. B. Stickel.” This is also a simple tale but well told and the details of the characters and the harbor environment is interesting. The tie-in to the mythos is not the conventional one and allows some added surprise. As a New England resident it’s always interesting when the stories return to Lovecraft’s old stomping grounds.
My favorite long story is The Jar of Aten-Hor. By Kat Rocha. It is a story linking back to the Egyptian religious customs surrounding death. The description of the funerary artifact around which the story revolves is very vividly described. As with some of Lovecraft’s best imagery it calls out for a visual representation. But the description is detailed enough to bring it to the mind’s eye. The protagonist at each turn is provided an avenue of escape and each time she believes that she is deciding her own fate but by the end of the story it is evident that she was the one being manipulated. Although Egypt wasn’t the most frequent focus of Lovecraft’s mythic sources he did borrow from it for some of his Old Ones names. I remember reading a description of the pyramids that Lovecraft wrote for some event of Harry Houdini’s. It was entitled “Under the Pyramids.” It was one of the better things Lovecraft ever wrote. It’s nice to see a story that links Lovecraft back to a rich source of highly relevant mythic material. The inexplicable changing images on the jar provide the link to show the change going on in the protagonist. Her fascination with the jar grows past a professional interest until finally it becomes an obsession. The story is well crafted and full of interesting details. If only Lovecraft himself had been as careful with his writing. Then I wouldn’t have to make so much fun of him.
In my final post I’ll sum up my thoughts on Whispers from the Abyss and I’ll even throw in some more abuse of Lovecraft at no extra charge.