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From the depths of space, the earth and the mind
on 31 August 2016
This is a convenient and incredibly inexpensive form of obtaining the full works of Lovecraft that have previously been published in magazines, anthologies and short story collections. Overall it contains a more than sizeable sixty-two short stories as well as the five more lengthy novels and novellas written by Lovecraft; most of which were originally published during his lifetime but several posthumously. This includes such famous stories such as ‘The Call of Cthuthlu’, ‘The Dunwich Horror’ and ‘The Colour Out of Space’ but inevitably involves the inclusion of many not so well known and, sometimes, obscure stories. In such a vast array of stories there is bound to be something that will appeal to most readers.
Having the complete works in one volume makes it is easy to see the immense influence Lovecraft has exerted over the genres of fantasy, horror and science fiction, not to mention his contribution to literature itself.
Likewise it is readily apparent that Lovecraft himself is clearly very influenced by Poe. Poe himself is referenced several times and there is actually a story, ‘The Outsider’, that is a direct tribute to him with Lovecraft emulating his style.
The main problem with having the complete works in one volume is that it probably makes it inevitable to read them in such a way. This isn’t, however, perhaps the most beneficial way to read and enjoy them. With them originally being published periodically in various magazines and collections it certainly isn’t the way they were intended to be read.
This is exacerbated by the way this particular collection has been laid out in a way that batches stories of a certain arbitrary type together. Although there are certainly some academic benefits to be able to contrast and compare them this means that the reader is more exposed to the same or similar ideas or concepts being presented in somewhat different ways in quick succession. It gives, perhaps, a false sense of repetition that would never be apparent in their original published format.
There are also a couple of the short stories which were clearly published in an episodic format. Thus you occasionally receive periodic recaps within a story that might only be around twenty minutes long. This can be a little irritating and disruptive but is merely a result of the changing format.
However, this is still a good, and very economical, way of enjoying a hugely influential author that was not truly recognised as such within his own lifetime.