There are apparently still people who class HP Lovecraft’s fiction as Horror. Racism aside (which is indeed horrible), I’m afraid I tend to class it as Comedy. If Lovecraft’s ostentatiously overwrought prose doesn’t have you giggling, the guy with the squid on his head surely will. I have GM’d way too many games of Call of Cthulhu to take this stuff seriously.
And yet people still do. And that is at least in part because the Cthulhu Mythos is something that exerts a powerful pull on the human imagination. We love ourselves the occasional gelid and squamous monstrosity, even if most of us can’t remember what those words mean.
Tentacles sell. There’s no two ways about it. Eight possibly, or ten, but not two. Two is for mere humans. And because they sell, people take them to Hollywood. We can do special effects now, things that don’t look like panty hose painted green and stuffed with cotton wool. It is time for R’lyeh to rise from the briny depths and haunt our TV screens.
So at least thought some bright spark at Macmillan. They were right, too. Warner brothers bought it. A TV series there would be. Now all they needed was someone to make it work. Which is where Jonathan L Howard (no relation to Robert E) came in.
Jonathan is used to being a hired gun. He’s done a lot of work in the video games industry where every little pixel comes with a small © stamped on its backside. This was actually a good deal, in that he got to have his name on the book. Besides which, he got to play with old squid-head, and who can resist that?
Of course he did have to get people to take it seriously…
The set-up is pretty hard-boiled: New York cops, serial killer, guns, dead people. A case goes bad. Given the circumstances, it is no wonder that Daniel Carter decided to hang up his badge and start a career as a private eye instead. Helping jealous wives divorce their philandering husbands might be dull and unsavoury work, but at least you don’t have to watch your partner kill himself.
Then, out of the blue, there is a visit from a lawyer. A man that Carter has never heard of bequeaths him a bookstore in Providence, Rhode Island. The store turns out to be antiquarian in nature and managed by a young lady called Emily Lovecraft, a great niece or some such of a guy who wrote really weird stories.
Oh, and she’s… No, I won’t tell you. I will note, however, that old Howard is probably spinning so fast in his grave right now that if you wrapped some copper wire around him you could generate enough electricity to power a quasar.
Anyway, she’s a relative of the creator of all this weirdness, and that gives her a bonus on her sanity roll, which is just as well because it isn’t long before the requisite ancient artifact and the guys with bulgy eyes who like to live by the sea turn up. As for Carter, he’s… look, if you know anything about the Mythos you will have seen it coming a mile off. And if you don’t you probably stopped reading five paragraphs back.
At which point things should settle into a nice, noisy game of Kill the Cultists. Except that this is only Season 1 and Jonathan has to give us a shock reveal that will leave us all rushing to social media to get the show renewed for a second season. So he does…
He did WHAT???!!!
Jonathan dear, how many fungi from Yoggoth did you have to eat before coming up with that one? Because as twist endings go it is the sort of thing that generally only comes when one has listened to the complete flute sonatas of Azathoth. On repeat. For decades.
Oh, dear readers. Let there be a season two. Or a book two. I don’t care. I just want to know What. Happens. Next.
To hear Jonathan read from Carter & Lovecraft at BristolCon Fringe, and answer various questions about it, go here.
For more information about Jonathan L Howard, see the SF Encyclopedia.
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