S. T. Joshi’s anthology of HP Lovecraft’s greatest hits is something of touchstone for horror fans. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories came out in 1999, bringing together stories from the 1920’s. Lovecraft, of course is considered one of the fathers of modern horror and is essential reading for serious fantasy and horror fans. So it should come as no surprise that the Folio Society, those makers of books that are also works of art, should turn this collection into something gorgeous.
For those who don’t know the author, HP Lovecraft was an American author who wrote horror stories for pulp magazines. Lovecraft was famously repulsed by pretty much everything and had views that are infamously bigoted and small minded by modern standards (many would argue they were pretty petty back then as well, almost a 100 years ago). This fear of all things is what drove him to write profound and existential horror. He poured his terrified heart onto the page, and his horror and disgust at the most normal of things created a whole new world.
His most well-known work is The Call of Cthullhu, the tale of the discovery of a cult of people who worship an alien monstrosity. Cthullhu has pretty much become a comedy monster now, but the idea of an infectious and impossible to comprehend faith, zealously policed by its followers, formed the basis of many ‘classic’ horror movies.
Lovecraft’s writing is of it’s time. Paid by the word and sparse in detail, the author paints images of a strange and insane world. This established world, known as the Mythos would later become a cornerstone of many a scary story. Lovecraft’s own terror would be built upon by firmer writers in the future. As such, this collection is an invaluable insight, though the writing itself is not to the tastes of many.
The Folio Society Edition version is a lovely thing. We get a preface from Alan Moore, who is himself a famous peddler of pulp fiction. His preface (which is more like a short essay) is as clever and as apt as one would expect from the Magus of Northampton and almost worth the book on its own. The cloth bound book shimmers both green and purple in an eerie sort of way (for those who care: it’s set in Italian Old Style with Goudy Forum as display). Opening the cover reveals shiny black Aklo runes on a black background. The illustrations are mind-bending affairs from Dan Hillier, who is very good at creepy art. The book looks and feels like a mad wizard’s plaything, a treasure for those who like it dark.
THE CALL OF CTHULHU & OTHER WEIRD STORIES / AUTHOR: H. P. LOVECRAFT / EDITOR: S. T. JOSHI / ILLUSTRATOR: DAN HILLIER / PUBLISHER: THE FOLIO SOCIETY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW