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The Children of Cthulhu Paperback – 1 Apr 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books Inc.; Reprint edition (1 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345441087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345441089
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.6 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,561,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By M. on 11 Aug. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
fine fine fine
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 21 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Mixed Bag- Some Gems, some still Rough 7 Jan. 2006
By welsh - Published on
Format: Paperback
It's nice to pay homage to Lovecraft. Given his contribution to the horror genre, such consideration is well deserved. Lovecraft's approach to the supernatural, his contribution to what has become called the Cthulhu Mythos and his embrace of the weird has enhanced our collection of horror. So it's nice that people pay him the honor he merits as what many consider second only to Poe in macabre fiction.

There's a lot that can be done with Lovecraft offers. People turning into hybrid amphibian creatures, the opening of dimensional doors to strange vistas, self-destructive ennui, the nature of dreams and lost civilizations, one's own sense of alientation and dread, and perhaps most of all the existential idea that our religions are false and that the real Gods either don't like us, or don't care and our fate is to be little more than food. That's a lot to work with. The Children of Cthulhu tries to work with all of it. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

Too much homage is not a good thing. As a collection of work dedicated or based on Lovecraft's Mythos this has some real fine stories. But it also suffers some fairly weak ones which is unfortunate. This could have been a finer volume of fiction than was finally published. It suffers for falling short of it's possibilities.

The first three stories are quite good. Details, by Mieville gets the collection off to a good start. I believe this is also available in his collection 'Looking for Jake'. Visitation, is also a fine story and I liked the historical fiction in The Invisible Empire.

Other enjoyable stories?
Foster's A Fatal Exception has Occurred, Dorr's Dark Side of the Moon. Patterson's Principles and Parameters suggest some modern horrors on the edge of science and academic exploration. Hodge's The Firebrand Symphony returns us to the idea that the arts can touch the horror within us in ways that philosophy and science cannot, and is perhaps the best story of the collection. Cardin's teeth reminds of the dangers of too much philosophy, that the monsters we seek may turn against us.

I found Kiernan's Nor the Demons Down Under the Sea to be spooky and enjoyable, invoking for me the dread of a haunted house. Ochse's Spectacle of a Man brought back good old urban dread. Chadbourn's Sour Places reminds us that there are places in decay that might be subject to more primal forces.

But many of the other stories just don't work as well as they could. Many stories are either weak in chills, low on atmosphere or seem to be trying to hard to be modern Lovecraft. This suggests that a bit more edit, better selection and polishing might have made this a better collection. Laymon's and Brite's contributions are just not that remarkable, which is true of others. It's hard to identify where the problem is. Pelan and Adams write a nice introductory essay to the volume and perhaps it's just difficult to appeal to every taste in a collected volume.

So expect a few gems along with a few rocks.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Lovecraft's themes, not his prose style 18 Feb. 2002
By Steven Kaye - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The authors of this collection do an excellent job of using Lovecraft's themes (alienation, atavism, family secrets, the true horrific nature of the cosmos) and his influences (Dunsany, Machen, Poe) while for the most part avoiding cliched devices and plots.
While there are stories set in Arkham or involving Shub-Niggurath (to cite two examples), the stories are interesting in their own right, rather than being excuses to add new lore. Horror is a constant element, with some stories sliding over into science-fiction or fantasy, and there's variation in how the narrative is structured, in the voice of the narrator and the prose styling.
This is going to be the anthology to beat in the field of Mythos fiction.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
From one of the book's writers 9 July 2009
By Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire, Esq. - Published on
Format: Unbound
When John asked us to write for the book, he explained that he wanted an anthology that would help bring Lovecraft more into the modern age. There were no rules, except that we could not write stories that were sexually explicit because Del Rey wanted to market the book to young readers. I think that John envisioned the book as the Cthulhu Mythos equivalent of Harlan Ellison's DANGEROUS VISIONS. It is certainly one of the finest modern anthologies of tales inspired by H. P. Lovecraft and I am honored to be within its pages, however lacking and uninspired my own story may be. The book was a huge success and sold well both as hardcover edition and trade paperback. If you want innovative and superbly written tales that explore Lovecraftian ideas and yet are utterly original and decidedly modern, this book is for you.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Modern Mythos Inspired by HPL 9 Jun. 2006
By Alexander Scott - Published on
Format: Paperback
The problem with reviewing books in this genre is that usually you've read a lot of them. And I mean a lot. After you've read 20 or so Mythos anthologies, they all blend together. You already know what you're getting before you open the book. Not that it's a bad thing; you are after all buying a very specific niche and there's not a lot of unmapped parameter space. Maybe it's just nice to evoke the spirit of the Old Man once again. Definitely understand that CHILDREN OF CTHULHU is a good collection of good stories. In the new millenium, the Old Ones are new again...

Some of the stories are fairly predictable, like "Red Clay", "The Victorian Pot Dresser", and "The Cabin in the Woods". Some were able to evoke the spirit of HPL while standing on their own as a creepy tale, like "The Invisible Empire", "Details" and "Long Meg and Her Daughters" (the imagery in this story was VERY disturbing - and here I thought I was getting jaded), intentionally or unintentionally amusing like "A Fatal Exception has Occurred at...", and sometimes just very confusing (I won't name names here). Poppy Z Brite had an original composition in "Are you Loathsome Tonight?" I would have bet money it would be a romantic comedy involving Deep Ones. No, it's a short piece on Elvis. You really have to read it to believe it.

So, in the end, is this anthology worth your time and money? The writing quality is high, many of the ideas are original (if oddly developed?) or at least subtle in their derivation. And like anyone who has encountered the NECRONOMICON in some dusty bookshop, my final words are "What could it hurt?"
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Mostly not really Lovecraftian, but decent enough. 18 Mar. 2004
By Michael C. Kessler - Published on
Format: Paperback
Most of the stories in this anthology adopt the trappings of Lovecraft's tales, but none of the style. The most loyal of the bunch is China Mieville's entry. The remainder of the tales drop names or refer to classic tales to remind the reader of the nature of the anthology. A few of the tales, such as "A Victorian Pot Dresser," begin well, but soon decend into stadard horror cliches, with tight little endings that follow standard movie logic. What's missing, what's forgotten, is that most of the dread that Lovecraft evoked in his stories came not from the events in themselves, but from the greater implications of those events -- the knowledge that humanity is supremely insignificant is the wider world and, despite the realization of this horror, we can never understand why, the very nature of reality being invisible to our inferior biology and intellect. Most of these stories skip such implications and head straight for the gruesome monsters and the spattering blood with a near-complete lack of subtlety.
Best to skip this one and stick with older material, if not Lovecraft himself. Most of the anthologies published by Chaosium are far superior.
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