Comments on Shim's Wings of Love(craft)

In which Shim enjoys about half an anthology, quibbles terminology, is predictably mean about stuff that appears suspiciously literary, and makes no song references whatsoever.

Comments (go to latest)
Including the names of the authors of the stories would help here.
Arthur B at 19:02 on 2015-01-10
I'll leave it to Shimmin whether he wants to edit in the authors' names, but there's a list here.
Shim at 21:45 on 2015-01-10
Including the names of the authors of the stories would help here.

Never occurred to me, sorry. I'm curious: is there a particular way I didn't think of in which it'd help, or does it just seem generally useful?

Because of the way I've discussed the stories in themed groups, I couldn't really see an elegant way to add the authors' names in without making the text itself seem clunky and hard to read. Instead I've just stuck a list in at the top. Hope that's okay? I also fixed a typo.
I brought up the issue of the author's names for two reasons:

1. It helps me evaluate whether or not I'd be interested in reading something if I know who wrote it. Of the listed authors, I'm a fan of Spencer's Lovecraftian work, and I'll check out anything Stableford writes. Most of the others I don't know.

2. I'm a published writer, although what I write is very, very distant from Lovecraftian short stories. I like to see writers get credit for their work.
James D at 21:16 on 2015-01-14
I too appreciate the addition of author's names - I found it especially interesting that you especially didn't like Michael Cisco's story, given that he's something of a critical darling.

Somewhat related, just from my interactions with other fans, it seems like horror is more "to each his own" than most other genres - I wonder if it's because horror's main goal is to engender a specific set of feelings in the reader - horror, fear, terror, disgust, etc., and a reader's personal phobias and predilections can dictate that more than usual. If so, in theory it seems like romance would be the same way, though I don't know anything about that genre.
Shim at 23:07 on 2015-01-14
Sorryish about the names... with a monograph I’d obviously do that, and if I’d been looking at each story in turn I’m sure I would as well. With the thematic arrangement it didn’t really occur to me, as most weren’t getting much attention, although thinking about it, the ones I disparaged were probably owed that much at least!

I was interested (slash disappointed) to note that of the authors I’d actually heard of – Pugmire, Stableford and Cambell – nothing really struck a chord with me. It may be worth bearing in mind, though, that critical darlings and me tend to go together like fish and paragliding...

I can sort of see what Cisco is going for, but I’m afraid I thought the execution wasn’t that good. Perhaps he was aiming for a portentous, ominous sort of atmosphere full of interpersonal tension, but it came across to me as needlessly cryptic; it’s hard to feel the tension of a story if you’re just sort of perplexed about what’s going on. I may be unfair, but the impression I got was that the opacity concealed Cisco not having any real idea what the cultists were all about. If you’re trying to write a story from a cultist POV, that’s a problem.

In contrast, The Truth about Pickman was pretty open, and I was convinced by the world it presented. The antagonist felt well-realised and, while I can’t now recall if everything was explained, there was a sense of solidness; Stableford seemed to have a firm grasp of the situation he was writing about. My regret there was that it didn’t feel weird enough – as a story it’s pretty good, but as a follow-on to Pickman’s Model it had something quite specific to live up to. In this case, I was awaiting a little more weirdness punch at the end, which never came.

To put a few more cards on the table, I’ve never really considered Lovecraft as horror. It’s very much weird fiction as far as I’m concerned. In fairness, everything here is basically weird fiction (except, of course, Rotterdam).

Incidentally, as well as the folks I specifically recommended, I will be checking out Stableford and Campbell’s other writing. These particular stories didn’t do quite what I was looking for, but I didn’t come away with the impression that the authors were Not For Me. Maybe also Niswander.
Adrienne at 22:58 on 2015-04-17
Shim, you may also want to check out Nick Mamatas' work. He isn't exclusively a Lovecraftian writer, but he just recently published a short story collection in that mode that's reportedly very good: The Nickronomicon. (I say reportedly because while (disclosure) Nick is an online friend of mine, I don't tend to read his stuff because i find it, um, traumatic.)

You might also be interested in some of the other stuff from the same publisher, Innsmouth Free Press -- they're a small press owned by a woman of color that's specifically publishing horror and weird fiction, often in a Lovecraftian mode.
Shim at 16:42 on 2015-04-18
Hi Adrienne, thanks for the recommendation, always nice.

Between your disclaimer, and phrases like "gritty", "unflinching", "uncomfortable to read" and "utterly disturbing" in the review, I think I'll give this one a miss. But I appreciate it nonetheless! I'm pretty sure Nick appears in another anthology I've got in the pile, so I'll get a taste of him sooner or later.

Actually, one of the reasons I enjoy Lovecraft and its pastiche is that it is remarkably undisturbing (when it does get uncomfortable, that's normally because he's being prejudiced). I steer clear of actual horror. My brain can mess with me quite enough without anyone giving it ideas.
Adrienne at 05:37 on 2015-04-20
Shimmin -- You're welcome! And yeah, if you don't want real horror, probably avoid Nick. Some of the other Innsmouth Free Press stuff might still be up your alley, though!
Shim at 16:37 on 2015-04-20
There's definitely a couple of things on there that look interesting, especially as some of it is outside the USA/Europe. Although right now I'm trying to work through the books I picked up in Japan so vaguely attempting not to buy more stuff :S

Glad to see you back, by the way!
Robinson L at 20:36 on 2015-06-15
I'm somewhat acquainted with Mamatas - I first bumped into him via his contribution to Star Wars On Trial, and while I disagree with him about Star Wars, I've read a bit of political commentary from him that I broadly agree with. I remember Elizabeth Bear once characterized him as a true chaotic neutral, which I can believe from what I've seen of his nonfictional writing, but I generally find it engagingly chaotic neutral.

I've read/listened to a couple of his short stories, one of which I think was about a computer which possibly contains Lovecraft's mind, or something like that. My favorite so far is Arbeitskraft, a steampunk story about Friedrich Engels digitizing Marx's writings after the latter's death, trying to get more of his friend's insights upon the state of the world and of capitalism (hmm, now I come out and say it, kind of similar concept to the Lovecraft story, if I'm remembering right).

The end of Arbeitskraft seems to suggest salvation via steampunk Singularity, with Digital Marx apparently predicting the working class will eventually emancipate themselves by mental uploading. Which, I've just realized, is kind of fitting, given that's essentially what has happened to Marx himself in the story. Still, I gotta admit, my concept of life is too grounded in the realms of the embodied, the physical, and the material to view mental uploading as anything other than an esoteric happy ending. Still a good story for all that. (It got an honorable mention in Gardner Dozois' 2012 Year's Best Science Fiction anthology, along with ~200 others, for whatever that's worth.)
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