Eldritch Chrome- Review by Keeper Murph
Eldritch Chrome is another wonderful anthology of mythos weird fiction from editor Brian Sammons, this time paired with Glynn Owen Barrass. I’ve read most of Mr. Sammons’ anthologies, maybe all of them now, and I have come to expect nothing less than perfection from him. This book is no different. The stories presented are all on target with the premise of presenting a future Lovecraftian horror.
The stories themselves are each wonderful stories and as I go through each below, I might seem like I am being somewhat insincere to other people who might read this review and are looking to possibly purchase the book by saying everything is great. This is unintentional. The stories are all really good. If there did happen to be a single story in here that felt out of place, detracted from the whole, or dare I say it was bad in general, I would have said so.
So, long story short, if you are a fan of the mythos and noir or sci-fi you must get this book. My hat goes off to co-editors Mr. Sammons and Mr. Barrass in presenting another excellent anthology.
“Obsolete, Absolute” by Robert M. Price
From one of the penultimate names in Lovecraftian circles comes this story set in a post-apocalyptic Earth after billions of the population was wiped out by an unknown virus. I won’t ruin anymore, but this is a good story to open the anthology, the tone of the story is very reminiscent of Lovecraft and thus Dr. Price’s many other weird tales. The tone does feel a bit out of place with the other stories in the book, but not so much as to detract from the whole. And don’t get me wrong this is a fantastic story.
“The Place that Cannot Be” by D.L. Snell
This story centers around a man and his cheating wife. Needless to say, there are quite a bit more to this story, but I am trying very hard not to ruin them for you. Let’s just say that things get fishy. Mr. Snell provides a very enjoyable story told from dual viewpoints, with a twist, which is a very interesting device that would not really work outside of weird fiction and sci-fi.
“The Battle of Arkham” by Peter Rawlik
I will admit that I had been pretty excited about this story from the get go. I read Mr. Rawlik’s Reanimators, and loved it. I also got to meet with him briefly at Necronomicon in August of 2013, he is a really great guy. All that aside this is a solid story set during a war with humans, deep ones and mi-gos working together to combat some of the more horrific beasts from the Lovecraftian mythos. The drama here is tense and Mr. Rawlik’s ability to write combat is without fault. This is a great action-packed story of what being human really is and the sacrifice that is made on a regular basis by members of the armed forces, even in this setting. It just works, and it makes for a great story.
“The Wurms In the Grid” by Nickolas Cook
This is a dark and dirty cyberpunk story centered around a pair of freelance cyberpunks that are hired to remove an apparent virus from someone’s system. Of course as the name suggest, the virus is more than just that, and the protagonist is left fighting for his very soul. Mr. Cook strings a good tale here. It is a very good story that should interest most weird fiction fans and cyberpunk fans alike.
“SymbiOS” by William Meikle
Are you still responsible for your actions if they happen when you are asleep, or under the control of another? What if the person controlling you isn’t a person but a parasite? Could you be able to tell the difference between your desires, and those of the parasite? Mr. Meikle attacks one of our most inner-most fears in this story, OK maybe one of mine, confronting these very questions. You might have heard of Mr. Mielke from his story in Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes or possibly one of his recent weird tales in the Lovecraft Ezine, it seems he is popping up all of in the last two years or so and he is quickly rising on my list of favorite weird short fiction writers.
“Playgrounds of Angolaland” by David Conyers
David Conyers is a brilliant writer. The man can make the most unbelievable seem mundane, and when we are talking about shoggoth-human hybrid spec-op mercenaries and cyborg ninjas all living in a post-apocalyptic “Shog City” located in a certain mountain range in Antarctica that is no easy task. This is a great story that will have everyone flipping pages one after another to find out what happens next.
“Sonar City” by Sam Stone
Sonar City is one of those stories that is crossing multiple genres, in all honesty it is a noir steampunk weird fiction paranormal investigator tale. And I loved it. This is definitely one of my favorites in the book. Of course I do enjoy steampunk, and women in corsets, so I might be prejudiced just a tad on this. In either respect this is a absolutely wonderful story that is brilliantly thought out with an amazing story to boot. I can only hope there are more stories in this world, because I would eat them up.
“The Blowfly Manifesto” by Tim Curran
In The Blowfly Manifesto, everyone is jacked in. Not being jacked in is a sign of the aberrant mind, the weirdo on the corner preaching doom. Or in this case, a serial killer mutilating bodies across a festering city hell bent on destroying itself. What would the police force of the aforementioned city look like? How would they operate? But most importantly, can you trust what you see if you are always connected to net? This is another good story! Mr. Curran is no stranger to mythos fiction and as would be expected from a man of his talents, he delivers on this story. It is brutal, dirty, gorey, and a lot of fun to read.
“Flesh & Scales” by Ran Cartwright
“Flesh & Scales” sends us to an Innsmouth of the future where humans, deep ones, and giant squids live together . This is a really fun story and I liked it quite a bit. The story follows a human contract killer and his investigation into a squid that has broken from the status quo and gone against “The Boss” (Dagon possibly?) to deal in the illustrious inter-species sex trade, without permission of course. It is well-worth your time. And since Mr. Cartwright was a new name for me I will definitely be on the look out for his future weird tales.
“Inlibration” by Michael Tice
This is another story from an unknown author, to me at least. “Inlibration” shows us a future LA where everything is digitized and a lucky few have some serious cybernetic implants. The story is told by one of these lucky individuals, a private investigator, in their search for a certain book in the Rare Book Room of the Los Angeles Central Library. This was a beautifully written piece that will not disappoint readers. Mr. Tice has almost been added to my future watch list thanks to this story.
“Hope Abandoned” by Tom Lynch
Many of you might recognize the name Tom Lynch, I know I do, so I will not go on about how awesome he is, or his unbelievable talent. “Hope Abandoned” is a brilliant story. This could easily be my favorite story in the book. Mr. Lynch’s writing is brilliant and he builds a completely believable world with engrossing characters. The plot follows a pair of NYC cops, in the future of course, as they chase a serial killer into the abandoned SouthTown, aka Southern Manhattan Island. Want to know why it is abandoned? Want to know what happens? Read the story. You will absolutely not be disappointed.
“Immune” by Terrie Leigh Relf
This is another post-apocalyptic tale set in San Diego, more specifically the University of California at San Diego. In this tale the majority of the population was wiped out when an unknown virus struck the world. The survivors, those immune, are centered around the world’s centers of learning, either teaching or learning. But what happens when the virus mutates in ways that man could never fathom? Mrs. Relf’s writing here is top-notch and she is able to create an immersive and believable world.
“Real Gone” by David Dunwoody
This is an amazing story and is one of my favorite in the book. In the future we can upload our dreams to the net. Not our good dreams though, our bad dreams or nightmares. The story follows one such dreamer as she is hounded by things in real life and her dreams (are they her dreams?) while trying to retain her true identity. It is a fantastic story and should be read by everyone.
“CL3ANS3” by Carrie Cuinn
Coming towards the end now, bear with me. “CL3ANS3” is a beautiful story from Carrie Cuin. Mrs. Cuinn’s voice and the picture she was able to weave inside my mind was absolutely amazing, her prose was top-notch. The story is about a group of workers in the future that spend their days collating the data of the past so that it is easily consumed for the future. Everything is wonderful, until the data from a certain small university in Massachusetts is started upon. Then things get complicated.
“Dreams of Death” by Lois Gresh
This story is set once again in Innsmouth and is rather hard to explain without giving too much away. Mrs. Gresh’s writing here is excellent and this story like the others you spent the time to read is marvelous. Dreams of Death deals with what it means to be human, and at what point does a person stop being a person and start being something else?
The Gauntlet by Glynn Owen Barrass and Brian M. Sammons
The editors of this anthology, Glynn Barrass and Brian Sammons teamed up on this great story melding mechas and the mythos. What happens when a Great Old One’s summoning party gets gate crashed by a giant mecha and it’s pilot? Well it isn’t good, but it is awesome. This is a marvelous story. Both authors deserve some praise on this honestly, more than I can do here. Read this one, one of my favorites in the book.
“Indifference” by CJ Henderson
CJ Henderson gives us “Indifference”, a tale that follows the investigation into a series of bizarre incidents involving college students. Something inside them breaks, and they change. They become different people with a different set of morals, strange theories on life. They are shut off from the norm, or are they? This is another solid piece of writing.
“Open Minded” by Jeffrey Thomas
We end at Jeffrey Thomas, which is apt in an anthology of future mythos tales. In case you are not aware, Mr. Thomas is the author of the novel Punktown and this is a story from that setting. The story is a pleasure to read. I expected no less after reading Punktown. The story itself centers around a mid-level manager in a giant corporation that creates cyborg bodies for interstellar species. All is well until their new client, from Yuggoth, start taking things a little too far. This is a great story, one of my favorites.