Sunday, August 05, 2007

Book: "Shadows Over Baker Street"

This is a collection of short stories in which Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson find themselves battling Lovecraftian horrores, with many "My God! The Necronomicon!" moments. The stories are a bit patchy and suffer badly from the Stupid-Watson approach used by bad Conan Doyle adapters. One particularly rubbish piece is a story called 'A Study In Emerald' by Neil Gaiman; it managed to bag a Hugo award, suggesting that they will throw a prize to any old crap if it's written by someone famous.

There are some good stories in here, though, and the general sense of the volume is fundamentally enjoyable. John Pelan's 'The Mystery of the Worm' is impressive for its use of the sheer scary awesomeness of the Lovecraftian world, the sense that there are some forces best not tampered with; it also features Fu Manchu as an unnamed off screen minor character. Barbara Hambly's 'The Adventure of the Antiquarian's Niece' also manages to combine the genres well, and may yet find itself adapted into a Cthulhu Gaslight scenario.

9 comments:

Mr. Mick Bright Kim said...

Hi I would invite you

Niall said...

If you're interested in other writers' takes on the Cthulu Mythos, you could do worse than try Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Like most of these anthologies, it's a bit hit and miss, but it does have some of the early tales written by Lovecraft's contemporaries (Frank Belknap Long, Clarke Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard) as well as some more recent additions to the Lovecraft subgenre. Karl Edward Wagner's truly nasty 'Sticks' is included as well as a nice homage by King, a sequel of sorts to 'The Lurker on the Threshold' by Bloch, and a reasonable piece by Fritz Leiber. To be honest too much Cthulu in one book can get a little wearing, but it's not a bad collection. On the other hand, if it's the Holmes bit that gets you, Wordsworth have recently released William Hope Hodgeson's 'The Casebook of Carnacki - Ghost Finder', a rival to Holmes and specialist in the Supernatural. To be honest, as a fan of Hodgeson I was a little underwhelmed by all the Carnacki tales, but they are not without interest and 'The Hog' is a definite precursor to Lovecraft's mythos. Anyhow nice review. Nice to see an interest in this sort of thing out there.

Andrew Sherman said...

I actually liked 'A Study in Emerald' which I read online somewhere. I also liked the high tech Cthulhu romp ' The Atrocity Archives' by Charles Stross.

Nicholas Whyte said...

I'm with Andrew; my take on the collection was almost completely opposite to yours!!!

ian said...

Niall - I've read that book you link to, or something very like it; you know how it is, the same stories and writers are endlessly reshuffled. The one I remember being most struck by was Robert Bloch's "MS found in a converted house", with the title making it clear that things will probably not be turning out too well for the narrator.

On Hodgeson - I've only read "The House on the Borderland"; it is a strange book, but the scary stuff in it is very scary. And it's set in Ireland.

ian said...

A great collection of Lovecraftian stories (possibly the other half of the volume you link to) is one called something like "New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos". The cover features a woman in sexy underwear being menaced by a badly drawn monster. The book's contents are even better, with King's 'Crouch End' an obvious highlight.

The greatest Lovecraft book cover has to be the one with a giant monster eating naked women.

Wood said...

I've read the Gaiman story. I didn't think it was terrible. It was just obvious: "I'm doing a pastiche and oh-look here's a Big Twist! I bet you never saw that coming!" kind of obvious.

I think he's hugely over-rated.

CarsmileSteve said...

hehehe, great pic ;)

ian said...

Thanks Carsmile, at least someone understands.

Wood - you've kind of hit what I didn't like about the Gaiman story. On whether Gaiman is any good or not: I liked Sandman but have never read anything he has written since (apart from one episode of his 1602 comic, which was rubbish, and several issues of his Eternals comic, which was still in the "this story will be really getting out of its introductory phase any minute now" by the second last issue"). I understand he has written some non-comic books, but basically he is living off former glories, though I do get the impression is a very nice fellow/amazing networker in real life.