Black Wings of Cthulhu (Book)
Edited by S.T. Joshi
Published by Titan Books
There are times when I really love my job here at Dread Central. Getting to read books like Black Wings of Cthulhu is one of those times.
BWOC is a short story compilation containing tales inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. Now, there have been a thousand of these, I know. But S.T. Joshi has compiled a remarkable and excellent collection by defying convention and going for quality over all else.
What Joshi has done here is excellent because of the approach he took. He didn't just seek out tales using the Lovecraft mythos, or even a Lovecraftian feel. He includes stories about Lovecraft, including Lovecraft as a character, even just following the structure of Lovecraft's tales. We do have several stories lodged firmly in his mythos, but the variety is what makes the collection shine.
By jumping well outside the standard Lovecraftian collection, he was able to pull the best stories and not just the stories that best fit the theme.
You have stories like "Substitutions" by Michael Marshall Smith and "The Dome" by Mollie L. Burleson that fit firmly within the Lovecraft mythos while never naming any of his specific gods or creatures.
Pickman and his work show up in a few stories, most of which could be considered sequels to Lovecraft's famous tale of art from beyond.
The stories where Lovecraft is a character are unique and refreshing, especially "The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash" by Ramsey Campbell.
Some tales bring the Lovecraft mythos into the present, such as "Copping Squid" by Michael Shea, which can be read in its entirety right here on Dread Central.
There just isn't a miss in this entire collection. It's an excellent tribute to Lovecraft's work and hellaciously entertaining. The only negative I can think of is that someone less than familiar with Lovecraft's library of work might miss a great deal of the references and homages in the stories, but even then the tales don't lose their punch. Lovecraft fans will get more out of it; those unfamiliar will just find an enjoyable collection of the weird and delightful.
It's damn near perfect. Go get it immediately.
4 1/2 out of 5