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Black Wings IV: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror

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This fourth instalment of S. T. Joshi's acclaimed Black Wings series features seventeen stories that continue to elaborate upon the conceptions, motifs, and imagery of H. P. Lovecraft, the most influential writer of weird fiction of the past hundred years. One of Lovecraft's favourite themes was the tale of archaeological horror, where venturesome explorers unearth hideous This fourth instalment of S. T. Joshi's acclaimed Black Wings series features seventeen stories that continue to elaborate upon the conceptions, motifs, and imagery of H. P. Lovecraft, the most influential writer of weird fiction of the past hundred years. One of Lovecraft's favourite themes was the tale of archaeological horror, where venturesome explorers unearth hideous secrets of the ancient past that cast a baleful light on the fragility of our own existence. In this volume, a major new novella by the award-winning novelist and poet Fred Chappell, "Artifact," treats this theme with his customary panache and subtlety, while other writers such as Richard Gavin, Lois H. Gresh, Ann K. Schwader, and Donald Tyson broach the same theme in their own distinctive and diverse ways. The cosmicism that was at the core of Lovecraft's vision finds vivid realisation in stories by Caitlín R. Kiernan, Cody Goodfellow, and Melanie Tem. John Pelan and Stephen Mark Rainey have co-written a vivid novelette fusing horror and science fiction, while Will Murray’s tale of governmental espionage leads to a conclusion that bodes ill for the fate of the human race. Lovecraft was skilled at evoking the terrors inherent in the history and topography of his native New England, and several writers in this volume—notably W. H. Pugmire and Jonathan Thomas—do the same. Jason V Brock finds Lovecraftian terror in Prague, just as Gary Fry locates it in the British countryside. Lovecraft’s patented motif of the "forbidden book" that reveals secrets too horrible to contemplate is the focus of Darrell Schweitzer's story of what can be found in an out-of-the-way bookstore, while stories by Simon Strantzas and Stephen Woodworth elaborate on the Lovecraftian themes of immortal "gods" and of dreams that reveal unwelcome truths about ourselves. The book’s final contribution, by Charles Lovecraft, is nothing less than a recasting of Lovecraft’s early tale "The Lurking Fear" in a cycle of twelve sonnets. Black Wings IV shows that H. P. Lovecraft continues to inspire some of today's leading writers of weird fiction.


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This fourth instalment of S. T. Joshi's acclaimed Black Wings series features seventeen stories that continue to elaborate upon the conceptions, motifs, and imagery of H. P. Lovecraft, the most influential writer of weird fiction of the past hundred years. One of Lovecraft's favourite themes was the tale of archaeological horror, where venturesome explorers unearth hideous This fourth instalment of S. T. Joshi's acclaimed Black Wings series features seventeen stories that continue to elaborate upon the conceptions, motifs, and imagery of H. P. Lovecraft, the most influential writer of weird fiction of the past hundred years. One of Lovecraft's favourite themes was the tale of archaeological horror, where venturesome explorers unearth hideous secrets of the ancient past that cast a baleful light on the fragility of our own existence. In this volume, a major new novella by the award-winning novelist and poet Fred Chappell, "Artifact," treats this theme with his customary panache and subtlety, while other writers such as Richard Gavin, Lois H. Gresh, Ann K. Schwader, and Donald Tyson broach the same theme in their own distinctive and diverse ways. The cosmicism that was at the core of Lovecraft's vision finds vivid realisation in stories by Caitlín R. Kiernan, Cody Goodfellow, and Melanie Tem. John Pelan and Stephen Mark Rainey have co-written a vivid novelette fusing horror and science fiction, while Will Murray’s tale of governmental espionage leads to a conclusion that bodes ill for the fate of the human race. Lovecraft was skilled at evoking the terrors inherent in the history and topography of his native New England, and several writers in this volume—notably W. H. Pugmire and Jonathan Thomas—do the same. Jason V Brock finds Lovecraftian terror in Prague, just as Gary Fry locates it in the British countryside. Lovecraft’s patented motif of the "forbidden book" that reveals secrets too horrible to contemplate is the focus of Darrell Schweitzer's story of what can be found in an out-of-the-way bookstore, while stories by Simon Strantzas and Stephen Woodworth elaborate on the Lovecraftian themes of immortal "gods" and of dreams that reveal unwelcome truths about ourselves. The book’s final contribution, by Charles Lovecraft, is nothing less than a recasting of Lovecraft’s early tale "The Lurking Fear" in a cycle of twelve sonnets. Black Wings IV shows that H. P. Lovecraft continues to inspire some of today's leading writers of weird fiction.

30 review for Black Wings IV: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Toolshed

    There were only a handful of stories here that I actually liked. The Wilum Pugmire's one, Caitlín R. Kiernan, of course, but she is always brilliant, and then the Melanie Tem's story was surprisingly good with a fresh idea. I was kinda intrigued by the Prague story, mostly because of the atmosphere, and I think Simon Strantzas writes very well. But most of the texts included in the fourth volume are mediocre at best and the really good ones can hardly cover up the smell of something quite stale. There were only a handful of stories here that I actually liked. The Wilum Pugmire's one, Caitlín R. Kiernan, of course, but she is always brilliant, and then the Melanie Tem's story was surprisingly good with a fresh idea. I was kinda intrigued by the Prague story, mostly because of the atmosphere, and I think Simon Strantzas writes very well. But most of the texts included in the fourth volume are mediocre at best and the really good ones can hardly cover up the smell of something quite stale. Truth is, it's hard to bring something new to the table in this subgenre, and that's why I appreciate the stylistic side of a story more than the subject matter - which is mostly repetition and recycling of the same motives and plots over and over until it's beaten to death.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dean

    Solid Anthology. I didn't love most of the collection of stories as I had in previous editions of this, hopefully, Joshi can find some better work in the other volumes. Solid Anthology. I didn't love most of the collection of stories as I had in previous editions of this, hopefully, Joshi can find some better work in the other volumes.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barry

    This is the latest entry in an ongoing anthology series of original stories inspired by the work and worlds of weird fiction author H. P. Lovecraft. Renowned Lovecraft scholar and editor S. T. Joshi has thrown together an impressive roster of contributors, including Caitlín R. Kiernan, Simon Strantzas, Fred Chappell, Cody Goodfellow, and the late Melanie Tem. Despite the literary clout of some of these names, however, the overall quality of the stories is quite varied. Please read the rest of my This is the latest entry in an ongoing anthology series of original stories inspired by the work and worlds of weird fiction author H. P. Lovecraft. Renowned Lovecraft scholar and editor S. T. Joshi has thrown together an impressive roster of contributors, including Caitlín R. Kiernan, Simon Strantzas, Fred Chappell, Cody Goodfellow, and the late Melanie Tem. Despite the literary clout of some of these names, however, the overall quality of the stories is quite varied. Please read the rest of my review at the New York Journal of Books: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Israha

    Několik vynikajících povídek a peklužel také poměrně signifikantní množství šedě průměrného balastu. Tuto antologii mám rád, ale pravda je, že mnohem lépe by fungovala jako dvousvazková a výrazněji protříděná. Povídky jako např. Artefakt, Obroda, Prizma temnoty či Temné moře v nitru nemohou uspokojit nikoho jiného, než naprosté panice v oboru horrorových povídek. Velmi samoúčelný a až trapně působící "grossout" v podobě povídky Trofej mě taktéž nezaujal, a několik dalších povídek je z kategorie Několik vynikajících povídek a peklužel také poměrně signifikantní množství šedě průměrného balastu. Tuto antologii mám rád, ale pravda je, že mnohem lépe by fungovala jako dvousvazková a výrazněji protříděná. Povídky jako např. Artefakt, Obroda, Prizma temnoty či Temné moře v nitru nemohou uspokojit nikoho jiného, než naprosté panice v oboru horrorových povídek. Velmi samoúčelný a až trapně působící "grossout" v podobě povídky Trofej mě taktéž nezaujal, a několik dalších povídek je z kategorie "neurazí, nenadchne". Z pozitivního pohledu stojí za vypíchnutí Černé lodě spatřeny jižně od nebe (lovecraftovské postapo, to jo!), Kontakt (lovecraftovské futuristické sci-fi, to taky jo!), klasického H.P.ho důsledně evokující Aššur-sinova zeď, či naopak moderněji pojaté Skřípavá nepřítomnost a Temný vykupitel. S.T. Joshi by tuhle sérii antologií nejspíš měl vydávat s menší frekvencí a texty podrobit důslednější selekci. Kvalita se totiž i v těchto, čtvrtých Černých křídlech příliš rozmělňuje a ředí.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Trace Reddell

    Another enjoyable edition of Joshi's "Black Wings" series. As usual, hit or miss ultimately but overall a worthwhile read with all the stories worth reading for one reason or another. Nothing in this book quite stands out to me compared to the other volumes so far, where I had some real stand-out favorites or really obvious dislikes. As another reviewer noted, this volume may have the sloppiest editing of any in the series. Quite a bit of word displacements or incorrect replacements that got in Another enjoyable edition of Joshi's "Black Wings" series. As usual, hit or miss ultimately but overall a worthwhile read with all the stories worth reading for one reason or another. Nothing in this book quite stands out to me compared to the other volumes so far, where I had some real stand-out favorites or really obvious dislikes. As another reviewer noted, this volume may have the sloppiest editing of any in the series. Quite a bit of word displacements or incorrect replacements that got in the way of the experience at times, so Joshi should hire a better copy-editor! Anyway, off to Volume Five in what appears to be my go-to Covid-era book series.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I'm not much of a fan of non-Lovecraft Lovecraftian Horror, but I'm a sucker for PS story collections on sale. As I would expect from PS, the stories cover a wide range of topics, style, and quality. There is some Lovecraft pastiche, but also dragging of the mythos into other genres. I'm not much of a fan of non-Lovecraft Lovecraftian Horror, but I'm a sucker for PS story collections on sale. As I would expect from PS, the stories cover a wide range of topics, style, and quality. There is some Lovecraft pastiche, but also dragging of the mythos into other genres.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    A pretty good Cthulhu Mythos anthology. I liked The Rasping Absence by Richard Gavin, We Are Made Of Stars by Jonathan Thomas, The Wall Of Asshur-sin by Donald Tyson.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dave Suscheck

    Overall the book was solid. My biggest gripe, if you will, is that throughout the book there are a number if pesky little typos. That's my biggest gripe. Overall the book was solid. My biggest gripe, if you will, is that throughout the book there are a number if pesky little typos. That's my biggest gripe.

  9. 5 out of 5

    7thTrooper

    Fortfarande bra, men jag saknar Joseph Pulver.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on July 5th: “They’ve already made waking life a dream and the dreamers into a mushy mass-mind where everyone shares the same dream of being the only one who matters.” Sixteen tales with a Lovecraftian focus explore the otherworldly in bizarre and wonderful ways. One of the tales, “Fear Lurks Atop Tempest Mount,” is in fact a series of poems revealing a mysterious narrative. This reviewer found one of the tales, “Trophy,” somewhat offensive Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on July 5th: “They’ve already made waking life a dream and the dreamers into a mushy mass-mind where everyone shares the same dream of being the only one who matters.” Sixteen tales with a Lovecraftian focus explore the otherworldly in bizarre and wonderful ways. One of the tales, “Fear Lurks Atop Tempest Mount,” is in fact a series of poems revealing a mysterious narrative. This reviewer found one of the tales, “Trophy,” somewhat offensive with it descriptions of ‘war porn.’ That’s the point though – to put the reader into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable place. By far the longest tale in this collection is “The Wall of Asshur-sin.” The tale follows an archaeologist returning to the site of his first dig years later to uncover the site’s remaining secrets and eventually confront the nightmares from his youth. “Night of the Piper” uses an interesting mix of Kokopelli from Native American mythology and Nyar’ la’ a from Lovecraftian mythos. Nyar’ la’ seems to be a version of Nyarlathotep, or the Creeping Chaos, which adds to the trickster aspect of the Kokopelli character. Stories that transport the reader to another culture, land, or time are great and this collection of tales does a fine job of just that. This reviewer has not read the other collections in the Black Wings series, but after having read this collection fans of these types of stories would likely find them worth checking out.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John R. Dailey Jr.

    TALES OF THE OLD ONES IT IS... Hello, some pretty good stories in this one. As usual, some are better than others. Very entertaining to read. Thanks.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Dollins

    Great collection of stories finished months ago now

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jenpenni

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jay Eckard

  15. 4 out of 5

    Therion Ware

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Ray

  18. 4 out of 5

    BLEKket

  19. 4 out of 5

    j rees

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pavol Lelak

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Zeringer

  22. 5 out of 5

    Punishstone

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zackariah

  24. 5 out of 5

    Denis

  25. 5 out of 5

    Niamh McCullough

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christine G.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Corey

  30. 4 out of 5

    Waylon

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