Archive for the ‘Lovecraft’ Category

Keep An Eye on the Underground

I have neglected to mention, but am happy to announce, that Subterranean Press bought my story “The Boy Who Followed Lovecraft” a couple weeks back.  I think it will be appearing at Subterranean Online as part of the Winter issue.

This is the last strictly Lovecraftian story I intend to write.  It’s a period piece, not a work of fantasy, so it was hard to find the right home.  But I can’t think of a better place for it than Subterranean.  Their books are beautiful, and their online fiction top-notch (as you will see if you browse the list of online stories).

My thanks to Bill Schafer for taking a chance on this one.

World Fantasy Convention 2009

At the end of this month, I will be attending the World Fantasy Convention for the first time in many years.  I am scheduled for two events:

Friday, 5 P.M. – A Reading.  Location TBD.  I will probably read “Songwood,” before its appearance in the Jan.-Feb. issue of F&SF.

Saturday, 8:45 PM – 10 PM.  Crystal Room.  Group reading to celebrate the publication of Lovecraft Unbound, with Ellen Datlow and the following authors reading selections from their stories:  Laird Barron, Amanda Downum, Brian Evenson, Nick Mamatas, Michael Shea, Anna Tambour, and me.

Lovecraft Unbound – Dead Reckonings Review

Ellen Datlow sent along the text of a review of Lovecraft Unbound. It is will appear in a forthcoming Dead Reckonings.  We’re permitted to use excerpts, so I’ve dug out some that relate to my story:

More Than Just Tentacles

Martin Andersson

HENRIK SANDBECK HARKSEN, ed. Eldritch Horrors: Dark Tales. Odense, Denmark: H. Harksen Productions, 2008. iv, 306 pp. €19.60 ($25.30) tpb.

ELLEN DATLOW, ed. Lovecraft Unbound. New York: Dark Horse, 2009. 421 pp. $19.95 tpb.


The two present volumes are among the latest additions to the jewels in Cthulhu’s treasury. Both anthologies share the ambition of highlighting the “Lovecraftian”—the nebulous quality of weirdness and mood that is so much more than monsters from Outside and strange little New England towns. Marc Laidlaw puts it best when, in his comment on his story in Lovecraft Unbound, he writes, “Learning from Lovecraft, without leaning on him, is the challenge.” And in this, both anthologies succeed remarkably well.


An adventurous mycologist looking for a missing expedition visits a certain Asian plateau in Marc Laidlaw’s “Leng.” This is one of the more subtly disturbing stories of the book in its depiction of bodily invasion and the subversion of self; certain properties of the unique fungus located by the mycologist remind me of Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Seed from the Sepulcher.” It is also a good example of how names from Lovecraft’s mythos can be dropped as part of the background for a story, not taking centre stage as in some pastiches of doubtful quality.

The Leng Extract

Expeditionary Notes of the Second Mycological Survey of the Leng Plateau Region

Aug. 3

No adventurer has ever followed lightly in the footsteps of a missing survey team, and today’s encounter in the Amari Café did little to relieve my anxiety. Having arrived in Thangyal in the midst of the Summer Grass Festival, which celebrates the harvest of Cordyceps sinensis, the prized caterpillar fungus, we first sought a reasonably hygienic hotel in which to stow our gear. Lodging accomplished, Phupten led me several blocks to the café—and what a walk it was! Sidewalks covered with cordyceps!  Thousands of them laid out to dry on tarps and blankets, the withered little hyphaeriddled worms with their dark fungal stalks outthrust like black mono-antennae, capped with tiny spores (asci).  Everywhere we stepped, an exotic specimen cried out for inspection.  Never have I seen so many mushrooms in one place, let alone the rare cordyceps; never have I visited a culture where mushrooms were of such great ethnic and economic importance. It is no wonder the fungi are beloved and appreciated, and that the cheerful little urchins who incessantly spit in the street possess at their tongue-tips (along with sunflower hulls) the practical field lore of a trained mycologist; for these withered larvae and plump Tricholoma matsutake and aromatic Boletus edulis have brought revivifying amounts of income to the previously cash-starved locals. For myself, a mere mushroom enthusiast, it was an intoxicating stroll. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like for my predecessors, treading these same cracked sidewalks ten months ago.

Phupten assured me that every Westerner in Thangyal ends up in the cramped café presided over by the rosy-cheeked Mr. Zhang, and this was the main reason for our choice of eatery. Mr. Zhang, formerly of Lhasa, proved to be a thin, jolly restaurateur in a shabby suit jacket, his cuffs protected from sputtering grease by colorful sleeve protectors cut from what appeared to be the legs of a child’s pajamas. At first, while we poured ourselves tea and ate various yak-fraught Tibetan versions of American standards, all was pleasant enough. Mr. Zhang required only occasional interpretive assistance from Phupten, and my comment on his excellent command of English naturally led him to the subject of his previous tutors—namely, the eponymous heads of the Schurr-Perry expedition.

Here, at a moment that could have been interpreted as inauspicious by those inclined to read supernatural meaning into random events, the lights dimmed and the power went out completely—a common event in Thangyal, Phupten stressed, as if he thought me susceptible to influence by such auspices. Although the cafe darkened, Mr. Zhang’s chapped cheeks burned brighter, kindling my own excitement as he lit into a firsthand account of the last known days of Danielle Schurr and her husband, Heinrich Perry.

The full tale appears in Ellen Datlow’s Lovecraft Unbound.

Lovecraft Unbound

Great news.  Ellen Datlow just announced that M Press will be putting out her Lovecraft Unbound collection in October of 2009 instead of 2010 as initially planned.  These were to be stories under the influence of Lovecraft, but without overt references–i.e., no tentacles.

Here is the table of contents:
“Houses Under the Sea,” Caitlin R. Kiernan (reprint)
“The Din of Celestial Birds,” Brian Evenson (reprint)
“In the Black Mill,” Michael Chabon (reprint)
“Commencement,” Joyce Carol Oates
“One Day, Soon,” Lavie Tidhar
“Catch Hell,” Laird Barron
“Machines of Concrete Light and Dark,” Michael Cisco
“Leng,” Marc Laidlaw
“Sight Unseen,” Joel Lane
“Vernon, Driving,” Simon Kurt Unsworth
“Marya Nox,” Gemma Files
“That of Which We Speak When We Speak of the Unspeakable,” Nick Mamatas
“Sincerely, Petrified,” Anna Tambour
“The Tenderness of Jackals,” Amanda Downum
“The Office of Doom,” Richard Bowes
“Mongoose,” Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear
“Cold Water Survival,” Holly Phillips
“The Recruiter,” Michael Shea
“The Crevasse,” Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud
“Come Lurk with Me and Be My Love,” William Browning Spencer