Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.293: The Dark Gods

A follow up to 1984's The Ceremonies, T.E.D. Klein's Dark Gods collects four of the author's short stories/novellas. The first of which, Petey, is another classic of modern weird fiction. I believe that an early draft contained a few Lovecraftian references, but to be honest the tale works better without them. Whilst Petey's premise is fairly straightfoward (a sorcerer's familiar comes looking for its master), Klein nonetheless manages to spin this into a tale of creeping dread by the slow and careful weaving of an intrusion of something utterly otherworldly into the prosaic fabric of middle-class urbanity.

Black Man With A Horn is (as far as I am aware) Klein's one and only addition to the Cthulhu Mythos. It is also one of those rare gems of Mythos fare that achieves literary status. Exploring themes of old age, loss and regret, here the Mythos is revealed - both subtly but realistically - within the interstices of a life lived in Lovecraft's shadow when an ethnological exhibit reveals a horrifying reality lurking behind 'the Master's' fiction.

Like The Ceremonies, The Children of the Kingdom is a further paean to Machen, this time artfully relocating his 'Little People' mythology to the centre of metropolitan modernity, but also playing on inferences found in Machen's The Shining Pyramid and The Novel of the Black Seal in a particularly shocking manner.

Of the four tales, Nadelman's God is the one I least remember; as a consequence I don't have much to say about it here other than it warrants a further perusal on my part before I make any final judgement. Regardless, though, Dark Gods is another classic of modern weird fiction from a writer who is, sadly for us readers, far from prolific - but whose work thus constitutes a rare vintage worth savouring.

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