A few weeks ago my friend Josh Montreuil recommended Elizabeth Bear‘s short story “Shoggoths in Bloom” to me. It is found in her anthology of short stories with the same name. It’s a quick read, but I absolutely loved it, which is why “Shoggoths in Bloom” is my latest reading recommendation.
It’s no secret the dark stain on the H.P. Lovecraft’s legacy was the man’s overt racism. While Lovecraft fans are generally honest about his beliefs, it is rarely addressed in fiction influenced by his work. “Shoggoths” is different: set along the Maine coast in 1938 Bear masterfully use the mythos to have a serious conversation about racism, while still keeping that looming sense of unknown and mystery. At the center of the story we find a black college professor named Harding. While his skin color might be different from Lovecraft’s typical white-bread heroes, Harding still fits the academic archetype seen throughout Lovecraft’s own work. Harding is well-rounded, brave, and smart, but Bear write him in such a way that we find him struggling in his own way to deal with the issues of his day. It’s a refreshing take on Lovecraft, and in my opinion, one of the best recent additions to the mythos in years.
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