The following post is by Matthew Carpenter.
On the last web chat for The Lovecraft eZine someone asked if we could make suggestions for gift ideas. I thought about and decided to take them up on it. I have no stake in any of these books except for one very egregious example, and even then I am not getting any money. I have tried to make some varied selections of items off the beaten path, some enjoyable by anyone and some for the discerning Lovecraftian. Anyway, take this is the spirit of the Cthulhumas holidays.
1. Do you know someone who has read a few HPL stories and maybe wants to expand their horizons? Try getting them The Book of Cthulhu edited by Ross Lockhart. This is a very generous sampling of reprints and includes some of the best stories ever written in the genre. New copies are reasonable, Kindle editions a bit cheaper and used copies can be had for next to no money.
The next four books are novels, all of them accessible, compelling reads, none are expensive and they are readily available.
3. Peter Clines draws us in slowly and then hooks us with the enormously clever novel, 14. Homo ornat locum, locus non hominem…maybe not, though.
4. Stephen King really does have superb Lovecraftian credentials and all of his gifts are on full display in the new novel Revival. The build up is slow, gradually developing a thread of unease and then walloping us with one horrific denouement.
5. The Croning is perhaps the finest Lovecraftian novel I have ever read. Laird Barron is one of the finest authors of weird fiction writing today. Again, the ending is a horrific wallop.
6. OK, not Lovecraftian but most of us HPL fans swoon over Chambers as well. Quietly, without thumping his chest for attention, Joe Pulver has established himself as a premiere Chambers expert and scholar. Of course, he is a writer and as he loves Chambers, he has felt himself compelled to explore these worlds. The King in Yellow Tales, volume 1, allows you to peruse the master’s life work. A word to the wise, Pulver is not for the faint of heart.
7. As fars as anthologies go, World War Cthulhu probably contains the most conventional mythos tales of everything on this list. Oh, they are very enjoyable if not straying too far from the beaten path. What makes this book such a great gift are the gorgeous illustrations. Do make the effort and spend the extra money to get the edition with the pictures in color. I can’t tell you how often I’ve opened the book just to browse the art.
8. She Walks in Shadows edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula Stiles is one of the first anthologies of mythos stories all written by women (with Cassilda’s Song and Dreams from the Witch House due out soon!). Great premise but who cares! The question is how well written are the stories and I have been magnificently entertained. Just open it to “Lavinia’s Wood” by Angela Slatter, and see how she takes the ultimate tool in HPL’s oeuvre and turns the story on it’s head. Brilliant. Also, my edition has many attractive illustrations by women artists.
9. Letters to Lovecraft edited by Jesse Bullington is another brilliant concept. Really there is nothing else like it. The authors all took a quote from HPL’s seminal essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature” and wrote a story meditating on that quotation. Original, compelling, unexpected and wonderful all spring to mind.
10. You have to order The Starry Wisdom Library edited by Nate Pedersen directly from PS Publishing in the UK if you want to get a new copy. There is no Kindle or paperback. My goodness, this book is great! It is a facsimile of a catalogue of an auction that never took place, selling the contents of the Starry Wisdom church library. You get descriptions of each eldritch book, their provenance and history and too many tidbits to mention. Each author took a different tome (including HPL’s history of the Necronomicon!) and you can tell they were all chortling the whole time. An essential purchase for a dedicated Lovecraftian.
11. Inexpensive art! Gothic Dreams Necronomicon by Sammy Maine has a decent, readable text about our favorite nefarious book and the book is just packed with wonderful art of all sorts by numerous artists. Skip the text, look at the pictures!
12. Outrageously expensive art! Centipede Press gave us the Lovecraft Retrospective: Artists Inspired by HP Lovecraft. It is out of print, used copies sell for an alarming amount and you will never own a more gorgeous book.
13. Stocking stuffer 1: C is for Cthulhu. This board book by Jason Ciaramella and Greg Murphy can be used as a fun indulgence, but collectors will appreciate the lovely, colorful pictures.
14. Stocking stuffer 2, off the beaten path: Jared Wallace reworked some popular nursery rhymes into Mother Hydra’s Mythos Rhymes, which are not especially memorable. The art by Heather Hudson, however, is irresistible.
15. Stocking stuffer 3: Get some Cthulhu matryoshka dolls!
16. What about radio plays? Look no further than the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre recordings from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society. All are wonderful and all come with clever props. A perfect gift for a commuter who needs to be entertained in their car.
17. A bit more serious is this marvelous documentary Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown. It makes for compelling viewing as modern authors and filmmakers review the life and influence of Lovecraft.
18. What about short films of Lovecraftian interest? The best of the 2014 HPL film festival is just the ticket!
19. Fans of longer forms will enjoy The Whisperer in Darkness, also by the HPLHS.
20. For poetry fans, you won’t do better than this recording of HPL’s Fungi from Yuggoth, read by John Arthur with original music by Mike Olsen.
21. What if you need something for a scholar? The Lurking Chronology charts what happens in just about every Derleth mythos tale in chronological order. I can’t imagine how long Peter Rawlik spent doing this. I idle away my time looking for typos to complain about.
22. Also for scholars, this may be the most interesting sequence of letters between Zelia Bishop and HPL, discussing her stories that he helped her with. Kudos to Sean Branney and Andrew Leman. This is a fascinating book.
23. How about a game? The Fantasy Flight Game products are gorgeous but hopelessly convoluted to the casual fan…except for Elder Sign. After a quick run through anyone can be rolling dice and fighting the Elder Gods before breakfast! My sons and I had a blast with this and the version for iPhone is pretty fun too.
24. The Stars Are Right by Steve Jackson Games is not too complicated as you attempt to manipulate the course of stars and planets, so you can successfully summon an Elder God to devour your opponents. With its uncomplicated game play it is fast and fun for 4 players.
25. The problem with a list like this for a guy like me is I keep thinking of more things to add. I realized I did not have anything in the graphic novel category. There are many choices but I have to go with my favorite, Jason Thompson’s The Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath. He uses a stylized human figure, the Mockman, as the protagonist in all his comics. Some don’t like it but this version is simply the best there is and I find it gorgeously drawn. I have linked to the combination pack where you also get a full color poster of the map Mr. Thompson drew of the Dreamlands.
A little something for everyone, I hope! Happy Holidays!
My egregious recommendation is of course the book I edited A Lonely and Curious Country. The stories are great!