The third in the Cthulhu Unbound series from Permuted Press features four multifarious novellas based around Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, each with a unique take on the creatures and cosmicism that fans of the source material will appreciate.
Cody Goodfellow’s ‘Unseen Empire’ tells the story of Inigo Hull, a half-Comanche bounty-hunter, as he leads a group of cavalrymen on a quest to find a tribe of Indians who have gone missing from their reservation. Tsagotthua, an ancient being, is about to awaken, and Hull could be the only man capable of stopping it. There is some wonderful storytelling here as the action moves seamlessly back and forth through time in order to embellish on Hull’s past and motives. The descriptions of the altered slaves are particularly well-written, with their stitched mouths and quartz eyes; the fact that they’re encountered in a set of claustrophobic caverns only adds to the tangible dread.
In ‘MirrororriM’ by DL Snell, Justin is a self-harmer seeking help and support with the aid of a therapy group. While at the group, however, he encounters much more than he anticipated; Dr. Specht, the therapist, has some very unusual methods, and none of the other tortured souls in attendance seem to mind, for it’s clear there are darker forces at work. This is intelligent body horror done right. The story, while intricate, never crosses the line into utterly confusing, and the climax is the most surprising in the collection.
‘Nemesis Theory’ by Tim Curran is the tale of a group of prisoners in Grissenberg, one of the toughest jails imaginable, as they discover there’s something not quite right about one of the inmates. Eddie Sloat is not normal, and the other prisoners avoid him like the plague, aware that what he is capable of can only be described as otherworldly. Meanwhile, a massive tear appears in the sky – the Oort Cloud – and begins to worsen as time passes. Pretty soon, all hell breaks loose inside the prison, and the black patch of sky reveals the horrors lurking within. Curran has woven a tense story here; the backdrop of a maximum-security prison is perfect for Lovecraftian elements. The prose is at times beautiful, and the sense of imminent danger is palpable throughout. ‘Nemesis Theory’ is a fine story by an author who clearly knows the Mythos inside and out.
‘The R’Lyeh Singularity’ is the co-authored effort from Brian M. Sammons and David Conyers, which tells the story of a CIA and NSA agents as they discover something unnatural beneath the Pacific Ocean. Featuring Harrison Peel, one of the characters from Conyers’ ‘The Spiraling Worm’ collection, this is an exciting, action-packed story with plenty of twists and turns. The occasional lapse in careful editing detracts ever-so-slightly from the fun, and the more discerning Mythos fans are more than likely to pick up on a few incorrect references, but that doesn’t mean this final story in the collection is any less entertaining. This is Lovecraft via the action-packed set-pieces of Michael Bay, and although it will more than likely never make it to the big screen, ‘The R’Lyeh Singularity’ paints some pretty nice visuals as you work through it.
Cthulhu Unbound 3 is well worth picking up if you are a fan of the original Mythos stories, or simply in need of something exciting to pass the time. It’s nice to know that almost eighty years after his death, Lovecraft’s Mythos continues to be explored in such a fascinating manner, and it’s collections like this that make you realise just how splendid his legacy is.
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