February 28th, 2009


February Books 29) H.P. Lovecraft's The Haunter of the Dark, by John Coulthart

In H.P. Lovecraft's The Haunter of the Dark, and other Grotesque Visions, John Coulthart provides us with lavishly and horribly illustrated retellings of both "The Haunter of the Dark" and "The Call of Cthulhu", along with pictorial meditations on the Kabbalah envisioned as aspects of the Great Old Ones, with invocations by Alan Moore, who also provides a quite bizarre introduction. Tremendous stuff, and would be a good if not very gentle introduction to Lovecraft for those who don't know his writing.

Purists may complain that Coulthart's depiction of Providence does not look like the real thing at all. This is true, but misses the point: Lovecraft's stories are only weakly rooted in the real details of geography, mainly for local colour, and Coulthart was probably right to create a Providence of his own mind rather than worry too much about what buildings Lovecraft might have known.

Coulthart asks, "Sixty years from now, when Stephen King and James Herbert have gone the way of Dennis Wheatley and Seabury Quinn, will their books still be read as Lovecraft's are today?" He thinks not, and I agree with him.

February Books 30) Shambling Towards Hiroshima, by James Morrow

Morrow had a launch party for this book at Boskone, complete with giveaway toy fire-breathing lizards, so I acquired a copy; and great fun it is, too. I'm not a big expert on either 1940s Hollywood (as recently demonstrated) or on later Godzilla, but I still very much enjoyed this whimsical story with a hard edge to it, about the role of B-movie star Syms Thorley in the secret US project to end the war by unleashing giant fire-breathing lizards on the Japanese mainland. Recommended. (See also Strange Horizons review.)


Strongly recommend, if you have the time and patience, the Boekenfestijn currently in the Brabanthal near Leuven. Young F and I spent the morning there, and came away laden with cut-price goodies - not just books, but games and craft kits as well. The downside is that the Brabanthal is not that easy to get to without a car (though there are fairly regular buses from Leuven station) and that the internal sorting of the goods is not very thorough (hence my comment about the patience). But a good bit of bookshop therapy to start the weekend.


February Books 31) Only Human, by Gareth Roberts

This is surely one of the best New Series Adventures, and one of the better Who novels in general. It is largely set in Bromley, which may not sound like a promising start, but this becomes the jumping off point for the Doctor (Nine, in this case) and Rose to get involved with Bromley's prehistory, where Neanderthals, local homo sapiens, and humans who have travelled there from the far future are all under threat from ambitious monsters and montrous ambition. Meanwhile, in the early 21st century, Jack Harkness is helping a displaced Neanderthal settle into contemporary Bromley. There is a certain amount of playing the situation for laughs, but also a bit of exploration of what it is that makes us human. The question of whether or not this applies to the Doctor lurks in the background, of course, but it's more about Rose and the people she meets, with the Jack story line operating as a contrast. Very interesting, and recommended.