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Old Venus: An over-long, narrowly-themed anthology

Old Venus by Gardner Dozois & George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois’s themed anthologies are some of the most popular on the market these days. Soliciting the genre’s best-known mainstream writers, selecting highly familiar themes, and letting the length run to 500+ pages, RoguesWarriorsDangerous WomenSongs of the Dying EarthOld Mars, and others are among the bestselling a... Read More

Tales of Cthulhu Invictus: Ancient Rome does battle with the Lovecraftian mythos

Tales of Cthulhu Invictus: Nine Stories of Battling The Cthulhu Mythos In Ancient Rome edited by Brian M. Sammons

She shivers. She is cold, and she shivers, despite the blanket that wraps her, despite her mother’s enfolding arms. 
It is not the fever, but the place.
A place that feels… old.
Old when Rome was young. Old when the she-wolf gave suckle to Romulus and Remus. Old… beyond old. Ancient, and wrong.

~from “Fecunditati Augustae,” by Christine Morgan

Tales of Cthulhu Invictus adds nine new stories to the large anthology subgenre of the Cthulhu mythos built upon the cosmic horror foundations laid by H.P. Lovecraft. This collection, edited by the accomplished Brian M. Sammons, has several ... Read More

The Monstrous: You can’t go wrong with Datlow

The Monstrous edited by Ellen Datlow

Whenever I see Ellen Datlow’s name as editor on the cover of an anthology, I know I’m in good hands. Datlow has a made a thirty-plus year career of choosing good stories and developing collections that take different aims at the theme. The theme of The Monstrous is monsters, and Datlow makes sure to explore all facets of that word with this mostly-reprint anthology from Tachyon Press.

There are twenty stories in the book. One is original to the anthology. The reprints include one classic horror story and a few that read as dated to me. Datlow’s standards of excellent writing and good characterization stand throughout the book.

I’m going to discuss two pieces out of sequence, because they left me puzzling. The Monstrous includes “Do... Read More

The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk: Truly mammoth, with some great stories

The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk edited by Sean Wallace

The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk lives up to its name, with 21 works of fiction ranging from short stories to novellas. “Dieselpunk” is the term the coined for concepts that grew out of steampunk but have left the Victorian era behind and are now, for the most part, set in the time period between the two world wars. There are exceptions in this anthology; one story takes places during WWII and one during the American Occupation of Japan.

What you get here, mostly, is writers having a lot of fun with pulp-era inventions and adventures. There are airships, of course. There are airplanes, rockets, tanks, Voltron/Pacific Rim-style robotic fighting suits; there are jetpacks and giant subterranean drills. Several stories deal with Prohibition, and several authors start from the fact that the “interwar period” was far from free of war, setting ... Read More

Cthuthlu Fhtagn!: Variety is the spice of the Elder Gods

Cthuthlu Fhtagn! edited by Ross Lockhart

Usually, I shy away from reviewing books whose name I can’t pronounce. Since this title is in the language of the Elder Gods, though, it’s probably better that I can’t pronounce it. Aklo, H.P. Lovecraft’s mystical language, was never meant for human voices to speak anyway, as editor Ross Lockhart explains in his introduction. Lockhart also informs us that the meaning of “Fhtagn” was given to him in a dream (presumably by the Old Ones) and it means “house.” Anyway, Cthuhlu Fhtagn! is the third Cthulhu-themed anthology Word Horde has done, and Lockhart is now getting mystical information while he sleeps… I’d keep an eye on him, if I were you.

Cthulhu Fhtagn!
has 19 stories. Many, but not all, do involve buildings; al... Read More