Last year marked the 125th anniversary commemorating the birth of horror writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft, and, as a result, renewed interest in his writing has inspired a higher number of anthologies collecting short stories inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. Scott Gable and C. Dombrowski, who co-edited By Faerie Light and Ghost in the Cogs, have once again collaborated on a Broken Eye Books title, Tomorrow’s Cthulhu: Stories at the Dawn of Posthumanity. In this edition, the editors collected together 29 stories inspired directly by Lovecraft’s Cthulhu and Dream Cycle (Dreamlands) mythos while incorporating scientific tones and interests. All channeled the inexplicable call of the characters to the hidden and unknown.
Readers will be able to pick up on shared elements, characters, and locations – if they are familiar with Lovecraft’s stories – and make deeper associations with the essays presented in this book. For instance, Molly Tanzer in “The Stricken” tells of Hannah carrying her great uncle’s (Dr. Herbert West) head around in a jar as she makes her escape from Arkham during a zombie apocalypse, while “Innsmouth Redemption” by Joette Rozanski draws many references into her own story from Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth. And, the disturbing psychologist’s office art in “The Sky Isn’t Blue” by Clinton J. Boomer adeptly draws inspiration from Lovecraft’s Pickman’s Model.
Some of the essayists skillfully examined and commented on contemporary societal concerns in clever ways. For example, Damien Angelica Walters’ “A Pathway for the Broken” explored the use of nanoparticles to rid a man of Alzheimer’s Disease. In “Advanced Placement,” Richard Lee Byers critiques standardized testing practices gone awry, while Jeff C. Carter channels Lovecraft’s Under the Pyramids in his story about virtual technology that links a United States soldier and a young Pashtun man in Afghanistan in life and death in his short story, “Boots on the Ground.”
While all of the stories were riveting, two essays stood out for me. First, Kaaron Warren’s “68 Days” about a terminally ill woman who is selected to participate in a Mars study, finds physical and spiritual community – thoughts and questions that I have pondered on more than one occasion as I grow older and think of my diminishing mortality. As a balance to the heaviness of Warren’s essay, I thoroughly enjoyed the lighthearted “Church of the Renewed Covenant” by Shannon Fay about a young couple who shop for a church to worship the elder gods. And, for the truly eerie, Bruce R. Cordell’s “Perfect Toy for a Nine Year Old” confirmed I never want a discount or an official design Mister Jenkins in my home!
Gable and Dombrowski have amassed an engrossing collection of short stories in Tomorrow’s Cthulhu: Stories at the Dawn of Posthumanity. The editors should be applauded on their skillfulness to assemble an exceptional group of intelligent essays resulting in a cohesive journey for the reader. While familiarity with Lovecraft’s will enhance the reader’s experience, it is not a prerequisite to enjoy this impressive collection.