My favorite 2015 Lovecraftian and Weird Fiction books

Welcome to a new tradition here at Lovecraft eZine: my favorite Lovecraftian and Weird Fiction books of the year. I asked each of these authors and editors to write a few words about the inspiration behind their book, and they were kind enough to oblige.

So without further ado, here are ten of my favorites from 2015 (in no particular order):

The Visible Filth. Author Nathan Ballingrud writes: “The Visible Filth came as a title first. I carried it around for a few months, unable to find a home for it. Later, I started thinking about the dark influence of cell phones on my own life, and the lives of so many people I know. Sometimes the cell phone feels like a direct line to a cosmic sewage sump; it fosters paranoia, anxiety, and compulsive behavior. The title clicked right into place, and the story — about the poison and suspicion that seeps into these peoples’ lives through this vessel — grew from that. I think it might be the grossest story I’ve ever written.”

When Will discovers a cell phone after a violent brawl his life descends into a nightmare. Affable, charismatic and a little shallow, he's been skating across the surface of life in a state of carefully maintained contentment. He decides to keep the cell phone just until the owner returns and everything changes. Then the messages begin. Will's discovered something unspeakable and it's crawling slowly into the light.

When Will discovers a cell phone after a violent brawl his life descends into a nightmare. Affable, charismatic and a little shallow, he’s been skating across the surface of life in a state of carefully maintained contentment. He decides to keep the cell phone just until the owner returns and everything changes. Then the messages begin. Will’s discovered something unspeakable and it’s crawling slowly into the light.

Black Star, Black Sun. Author Rich Hawkins writes: “I wanted to merge cosmic horror with some British folk horror, and make the ending bleak as I could. The village and the surrounding area in the novella were based on the where I grew up. The writings of Friedrich Nietzsche were a large inspiration.”

Ben Ottway has returned to his family home in Marchwood; tired, broken, and grieving over the disappearance of his wife. This should be a time of rest, of contemplation and reconnection with his elderly father, a chance to recharge in the fresh air of the remote village. However, grim nightmares and daytime visions of hellish environments populated by insidious creatures serve only to fray his already ragged nerves. A chance encounter with a fellow sufferer leads to an unlikely alliance as imaginary threats suddenly become manifest, and the entire village falls under the sway of the Black Star. As neighbours become enemies and the world around him crumbles, Ben must search for the truth but, more importantly, he must be prepared to accept it.

Ben Ottway has returned to his family home in Marchwood; tired, broken, and grieving over the disappearance of his wife. This should be a time of rest… However, grim nightmares and daytime visions of hellish environments populated by insidious creatures serve only to fray his already ragged nerves. A chance encounter with a fellow sufferer leads to an unlikely alliance as imaginary threats suddenly become manifest, and the entire village falls under the sway of the Black Star. As neighbours become enemies and the world around him crumbles, Ben must search for the truth but, more importantly, he must be prepared to accept it.

The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft. Editor A.J. French writes: “The idea behind The Gods of HP Lovecraft began with wanting to focus on the more esoteric/mythological elements in Lovecraft’s body of work. After bouncing this idea back and forth with Chris Payne, publisher of JournalStone Publishing, we decided that Lovecraft’s bestiary was the best place to start. This, in turn, led to bouncing the idea back and forth again with Donald Tyson, an expert on HP’s bestiary, who also developed his own magical system based on it. We decided to have Donald write the ‘mythology’ of the gods, and then went after some of our favorite authors to write fictional accounts of these deities. We did choose authors we thought could write in a modern style to befit a more modern audience. New artwork from John Coulthart, Paul Carrick, and Steve Santiago was added, and the final product resulted in a nice balance between past and present Lovecraftianism. It was a lot of fun putting it together!”

Lovecraft's bestiary of gods has had a major influence on the horror scene from the time these sacred names were first evoked. Cthulhu, Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Yog-Sothoth-this pantheon of the horrific calls to mind the very worst of cosmic nightmares and the very darkest signs of human nature. The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft brings together twelve all-new Mythos tales.

Lovecraft’s bestiary of gods has had a major influence on the horror scene from the time these sacred names were first evoked. Cthulhu, Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Yog-Sothoth-this pantheon of the horrific calls to mind the very worst of cosmic nightmares and the very darkest signs of human nature. The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft brings together twelve all-new Mythos tales.

The End of the End of Everything. Author Dale Bailey writes: “The stories in The End of the End of Everything were mostly written in the last few years, after major personal upheavals made me realize just how fragile is the glue that holds our lives together. I survived the crises and I think the stories reflect that. They are tales of apocalypse both global and personal–tales of lives falling apart and occasionally–very occasionally coming together once again.”

There is the Creature from the Black Lagoon, who is more human than any of those he meets in Hollywood; Eleanor, who works at the End-of-the-World Café, and who sees the depravity and despair of the Pit every day, yet never gives up hope for her ailing child; and young Tom, lost in a world scorched by the sun, who follows the rumor of angels still hanging on the wind. Reminiscent of Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson, Dale Bailey mixes the macabre in with his melancholy, crafting stories that linger long after their reading. He sees a dark world that is growing darker, but he carries with him a light that refuses to go out.

There is the Creature from the Black Lagoon, who is more human than any of those he meets in Hollywood; Eleanor, who works at the End-of-the-World Café, and who sees the depravity and despair of the Pit every day, yet never gives up hope for her ailing child; and young Tom, lost in a world scorched by the sun, who follows the rumor of angels still hanging on the wind. Reminiscent of Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson, Dale Bailey mixes the macabre in with his melancholy, crafting stories that linger long after their reading. He sees a dark world that is growing darker, but he carries with him a light that refuses to go out.

Nightscript IEditor C.M. Muller writes: “Nightscript began as a one-issue zine back in the 90s, produced shortly before I crept into the ol’ college cave, exchanging my favored Weird slate for a more “lit’ry” one. It took some twenty years to find my way back to these eldritch roots, both as writer and now editor. In 2014, after the announced hiatus of the seminal dark fiction anthology, Shadows & Tall Trees, I struck upon the idea of venturing out on my own, resurrecting the old zine in a new and improved way. I hope to keep the anthology on a steady course as the years creep ever-onward, growing its readership by slow and meaningful degree.”

An annual anthology of strange and darksome tales by twenty of the finest contemporary scribes.

An annual anthology of strange and darksome tales by twenty of the finest contemporary scribes.

Experimental FilmAuthor Gemma Files writes: “In a way, Experimental Film is a sequel–a fairly direct one, actually–to Shirley Jackson award-nominated novelette “each thing I show you is a piece of my death,” which I co-wrote with my husband, Stephen J. Barringer. It certainly takes place in that universe, though it also jostles shoulders with the one inhabited by the cast of my story-cycle We Will All Go Down Together: Stories of the Five-Family Coven, which means it evolved directly from almost twenty years of me trying to prove that Toronto/Ontario, Canada, could be just as inherently spooky as any other location. Add to that the fact that the main character is an extraordinarily thin-veiled version of me–hopefully more disagreeable, but who knows?–and the book becomes my attempt to marry the creepy world of my shorter stories with the deep character focus of my longer ones, to crossbreed fiction and fact into a sort of numinous hybrid mishmash. It also involves film history, obsession, tainted artefacts, fairytales, murder and archaeology, because these are all things which make my backbones pop and slide. Hopefully, readers will feel the same.”

Lois’s headlong quest to discover the truth about the disappearance of Mrs. Whitcomb almost immediately begins to send her much further than she ever wanted to go, revealing increasingly troubling links between her subject’s life and her own. Slowly but surely, the malign influence of Mrs Whitcomb’s muse creeps into every aspect of Lois’s life, placing her son in danger.

Lois’s headlong quest to discover the truth about the disappearance of Mrs. Whitcomb almost immediately begins to send her much further than she ever wanted to go, revealing increasingly troubling links between her subject’s life and her own. Slowly but surely, the malign influence of Mrs Whitcomb’s muse creeps into every aspect of Lois’s life, placing her son in danger.

X’s For EyesAuthor Laird Barron writes: “A few years ago, I sat at the table drinking scotch with John Langan. We were kicking around story ideas. Mine was to write a big, sprawling series of anti-Hardy Boys tales that would tie in with my ongoing projects. X’s for Eyes is something of a prequel to The Light Is the Darkness, although the action takes place in a counterfactual universe. Blame it on an early childhood spent in the company of Space Ghost, The Phantom, The Herculoids, Johnny Quest, Encyclopedia Brown, Danny Dunn, Archie, Leave it to Beaver, Gunsmoke, and scores of others. More Tooms brothers novellas are on the horizon for 2016-17, and if the series continues to be successful, the plot line will ultimately progress through the decades into contemporary days. I’d like to see the X’s universe continue to grow in popularity–the Tooms saga is great fun to write.”

Brothers Macbeth and Drederick Tooms should have it made as fair-haired scions of an impossibly rich and powerful family of industrialists. Alas, life is complicated in mid-1950s USA when you're child heirs to the throne of Sword Enterprises, a corporation that has enshrined Machiavelli's The Prince as its operating manual and whose patriarch believes, Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds, would be a swell company logo. Consider also those long, cruel winters at the Mountain Leopard boarding school for assassins in the Himalayas, or that Dad may be a supervillain, while an uncle occasionally slaughters his nephews and nieces for sport; and the space flight research division of Sword Enterprises "accidentally" sent a probe through a wormhole into outer darkness and contacted an alien god. Now a bloodthirsty cult and an equally vicious rival firm suspect the Tooms boys know something and will spare no expense, nor innocent life, to get their claws on them. Between the machinations of the disciples of black gods and good old corporate skullduggery, it's winding up to be a hell of a summer vacation for the lads.

Brothers Macbeth and Drederick Tooms should have it made as fair-haired scions of an impossibly rich and powerful family of industrialists. Alas, life is complicated in mid-1950s USA when you’re child heirs to the throne of Sword Enterprises, a corporation that has enshrined Machiavelli’s The Prince as its operating manual and whose patriarch believes, Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds, would be a swell company logo. Consider also those long, cruel winters at the Mountain Leopard boarding school for assassins in the Himalayas, or that Dad may be a supervillain, while an uncle occasionally slaughters his nephews and nieces for sport; and the space flight research division of Sword Enterprises “accidentally” sent a probe through a wormhole into outer darkness and contacted an alien god. Now a bloodthirsty cult and an equally vicious rival firm suspect the Tooms boys know something and will spare no expense, nor innocent life, to get their claws on them. Between the machinations of the disciples of black gods and good old corporate skullduggery, it’s winding up to be a hell of a summer vacation for the lads.

He Who Walks in Shadow. Author Brett J. Talley writes: “One of H.P. Lovecraft’s themes I always found interesting is this idea of verisimilitude. He didn’t write fantasy; he wanted the reader to feel like his stories were happening in their world, to make them question everything they believed. In writing He Who Walks in Shadow, I wanted to apply that theme, to take actual historical events and infuse them with the mythos. The perfect villain to do that was Nyarlathotep. He hangs over everything, appearing throughout history from the time of Christ to the Roman conquest of Gaul to the Black Plague to modern times. And all along he is manipulating humanity to fit his own goal—the end of all things.”

The Incendium Maleficarum has been lost and Carter Weston presumed dead, but the story of That Which Should Not Be is only just beginning. Now Carter's only daughter, Rachel Jones, and his oldest friend, Henry Armitage, must embark on an epic journey that will take them from the hell-blasted Tunguska forest to the catacombs of Paris to the shores of the Scottish Isles. They are in a race against time, for in France, strange murders and whispers of occult rituals herald the rise of an ancient evil bent on plunging the world into eternal darkness. It is up to Rachel and Henry to learn Carter's fate, recover the Incendium Maleficarum, and perhaps even save the world.

The Incendium Maleficarum has been lost and Carter Weston presumed dead, but the story of That Which Should Not Be is only just beginning. Now Carter’s only daughter, Rachel Jones, and his oldest friend, Henry Armitage, must embark on an epic journey that will take them from the hell-blasted Tunguska forest to the catacombs of Paris to the shores of the Scottish Isles. They are in a race against time, for in France, strange murders and whispers of occult rituals herald the rise of an ancient evil bent on plunging the world into eternal darkness. It is up to Rachel and Henry to learn Carter’s fate, recover the Incendium Maleficarum, and perhaps even save the world.

Red Equinox. Author Douglas Wynne writes: “The notion that members of a cult of chaos might live among us, that their nihilistic faith could cost us our lives, is a long-running leitmotif in horror fiction. I wanted to bridge the gap between Lovecraft’s xenophobia and the post 9/11 fears we all live with now, so I invented a modern incarnation of the Starry Wisdom Church, an urban religious minority living in flood-ravaged, near future Boston. These aren’t the gibbering inbred hicks of HPL’s forgotten towns. They attend MIT and use 3D printer technology to bring ancient abominations to life. And they believe that man’s greatest achievement was raising the sea level high enough to make coastal cities a suitable habitat for their dark deities.”

Urban explorer and photographer Becca Philips was raised in the shadow of Miskatonic University, steeped in the mysteries of her late grandmother's work in occult studies. But what she thought was myth becomes all too real when cultists unleash terror on the city of Boston. Now she's caught between a shadowy government agency called SPECTRA and the followers of an apocalyptic faith bent on awakening an ancient evil.

Urban explorer and photographer Becca Philips was raised in the shadow of Miskatonic University, steeped in the mysteries of her late grandmother’s work in occult studies. But what she thought was myth becomes all too real when cultists unleash terror on the city of Boston. Now she’s caught between a shadowy government agency called SPECTRA and the followers of an apocalyptic faith bent on awakening an ancient evil.

The Glittering World. Author Robert Levy writes: “The Glittering World was written as a love letter to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, one of the most magical places I’ve spent any significant amount of time. In order to bring it to life, I needed to draw on its rich history and folklore, both native and immigrant, as well as immerse myself in the region’s flora and fauna. In doing so, I ended up creating my own secret populace that dwell below the surface of the earth, an unknowable race of beings born from the very land itself that looks upon humanity with a decidedly cold eye. The novel is ultimately about the peeling back of layers– those of the wider community, of interpersonal relationships, and most of all our hidden truths– until we stand exposed, and thus fully ourselves, in all our dreadful beauty.”

AS A BOY, HE VANISHED INTO THE WOODS. SOMETHING ELSE CAME BACK. When up-and-coming chef Michael “Blue” Whitley returns with three friends to the remote Canadian community of his birth, it appears to be the perfect getaway from New York. He soon discovers, however, that everything he thought he knew about himself is a carefully orchestrated lie. Though he had no recollection of the event, as a young boy, Blue and another child went missing for weeks in the idyllic, mysterious woods of Starling Cove. Soon thereafter, his mother suddenly fled with him to America, their homeland left behind. But then Blue begins to remember...

AS A BOY, HE VANISHED INTO THE WOODS. SOMETHING ELSE CAME BACK. When up-and-coming chef Michael “Blue” Whitley returns with three friends to the remote Canadian community of his birth, it appears to be the perfect getaway from New York. He soon discovers, however, that everything he thought he knew about himself is a carefully orchestrated lie. Though he had no recollection of the event, as a young boy, Blue and another child went missing for weeks in the idyllic, mysterious woods of Starling Cove. Soon thereafter, his mother suddenly fled with him to America, their homeland left behind. But then Blue begins to remember…

4 responses to “My favorite 2015 Lovecraftian and Weird Fiction books

  1. Pingback: Weird Favorites from 2015 | Laird Barron·

  2. Pingback: Q1, 2016 Recap | Christopher Burke | Author·

  3. Pingback: Lovecraft eZine Recognizes He Who Walks In Shadow | The Site That Should Not Be·

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