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.
Shoggoths in Bloom is available on Kindle and in paperback Amazon, or on Nook and in paperback Barnes and Noble.
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Thanks for the recommendation; I’ll certainly check this one out. I’ve been in a Lovecraft kind of mood, as a forthcoming post on my blog will make clear. Also, after doing a search for this title, I find that the story is also available in The Book of Cthulhu, edited by Ross E. Lockhart (http://www.amazon.com/The-Book-of-Cthulhu-ebook/dp/B006QO1A1M/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381775713&sr=1-4&keywords=shoggoths+in+bloom#reader_B006QO1A1M), which lets you sample Cthulhu mythos tales by a variety of modern authors.
You’re welcome and nice find on “The Book of Cthulhu.” I’ll probably be purchasing that as well. There’s some *great* authors in there.
Have you read Karin Tidbeck’s Jagannath? Great weird stories.
I have not! Thanks for the recommendation. I just picked it up. Anything specific stand out or are they all just good weird stories?
They’re all great; I particularly enjoyed “Reindeer Mountain.” I wrote a very short review here: http://bit.ly/1f0bnRx. And I found it via a list put together by Jeff VanderMeer: http://bit.ly/V5Cwri. Really like your blog, BTW.
Nice review. Based on that I am glad I nabbed it.
That list is also really helpful, I bookmarked it for later use. I could see me getting a lot of traction out of Vandermeer’s recommendations.
I wanted to tell you that I just picked up Ekaterina Sedia’s Moscow but Dreaming (on VanderMeer’s list) and am already in love with it after finishing the first story, an encyclopedic description of the “seas” on the moon.
I’ll add it to my list! Thanks!