Cthulhu’s Reign: It’s the End of the World As We Know It

"Original stories about the return of Cthulhu and the Old Ones to earth"

A few days ago I received my contributor’s copy of Cthulhu’s Reign in the mail. It’s a themed anthology whose approach is stated concisely by the description at Amazon:

Some of the darkest hints in all of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos relate to what will happen after the Old Ones return and take over the earth. What happens when Cthulhu is unleashed upon the world? What happens when the other Old Ones, long since banished from our universe, break through and descend from the stars? What would the reign of Cthulhu be like on a totally transformed planet where mankind is no longer the master?

In other words, it’s unique among Lovecraft Mythos anthologies because instead of focusing on the standard threat of the apocalyptic return of Cthulhu and his fellow Old Ones, it’s full of stories set in the period after the big event has already occurred.

The book’s editor, the creatively irrepressible Darrell Schweitzer, invited me to the project several months ago, and specifically asked if I might be able to deliver a story that reconciles Lovecraft’s Old Ones with Christian theology. I ended up producing a short tale titled “The New Pauline Corpus.”

Recently I described the story’s genesis in greater detail to my fellow horror author John R. Fultz for a series of articles titled “Anticipating Cthulhu’s Reign” that he’s writing for Black Gate.

In the series’ first installment, “Everybody Loves Cthulhu,” John explains the anthology’s central conceit in detail, and describes his own contribution to it, a story titled “This Is How the World Ends” (which I’m looking forward to reading).

In the second installment, “It’s the End of the World As We Know It,” he explains the origins of my “The New Pauline Corpus,” and also the stories in the anthology by Ian Watson, Mike Allen, Brian Stableford, and Laird Barron (who’s finally getting a proper website! (said the guy who only got one six months ago)).

Next week he’ll talk with Will Murray, Don Webb, Gregory Frost, Richard Lupoff, and Darrell Schweitzer about their stories.

Upon receiving the aforementioned contributor’s copy, I quickly reskimmed my story to see how worthy it appeared in retrospect (my standard practice when receiving published copies of my work). I was pleased to find that it mostly upheld the hopes and intentions I’d held while birthing it. I would change half a dozen wordings here and there, but that’s about it. This is much better than my reaction to, for example, my story “Snapshots from a Feast,” which appeared in print several months ago — after a publishing delay of several years — and made me cringe with the wrong kind of horror. Oh, to turn back time.

Anyway, during this latest reexamination of “The New Pauline Corpus” I was struck by how intensely oriented toward the cerebral the story is, as opposed to the emotional or visceral. Most of my other work mingles intellectualism with emotional intimations of supernatural horrific-ness and despair. But this one leans definitively toward the intellectual end of the spectrum, even as it’s narratively structured in a highly weird and nonlinear way. I guess that’s just the direction I naturally went when trying to articulate the heart of the relationship I’ve always intuited between Lovecraftian horror and the Judeo-Christian cosmology.

During a recent web session as I was browsing to see if the antho is receiving any advance press, I was pleased to see that a reviewer for the The Maine Edge understood — and dug — what I was getting at:

A personal favorite is Matt Cardin’s “The New Pauline Corpus,” a story written in triptych built around a new gospel reconciling the rise of the Old Ones with the foundations of Christianity. We get a theologian’s proof equating Cthulhu to the Old Testament God, a “fictional” recounting of the time of the change and a diary-style account of a church official attempting to construct a new gospel from the pieces of the former two. It’s an interestingly-written piece that has some seriously strong connections to Lovecraft’s work. Probably the best one of the bunch.

— Allen Adams, “The call of ‘Cthulhu’s Reign,'” The Maine Edge,

Cthulhu’s Reign is scheduled for an April 6 release.

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/s/brian-m-stableford/

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on March 31, 2010, in Arts & Entertainment and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Just about ploughed my way through Chtulhu’s Reign. With the exception of two stories, it wasn’t worth the effort. Dull, plodding, pedestrian are all good words to describe the largely rubbish stories in this collection. The two stories that are great, are Laird Barron’s and Matt Cardin’s. I don’t know much about theology, but your what you did in marrying Christianity with Lovecraft’s cosmic vision of a cold, uncaring universe was masterful. A pity I had to subject myself to almost 300 pages of drivel to experience the quality work of Barron and Cardin.

    Or am I being harsh?

  2. Thank you for the kind comment, Rob. I’m glad the story resonated for you.

    And Laird is flat-out brilliant, isn’t he?

  3. You’re both brilliant. Will have to track down your collection. I’ve started reading horror again in earnest over the last 18 months and both of you are at the top of the heap for me.

    • Just this morning I read former Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow’s foreword to In the Beginning: The Birth of a Psychedelic Culture, the book of conversations between Ram Dass and Ralph Metzner that was published in January. Near the end of that foreword, Barlow recounts a moment in the not-so-distant past when he asked Ram Dass for help with a moral dilemma. The latter offered an analysis of the situation that was penetratingly brilliant and helpful, and Barlow responded with passion, “You’re just a lot wiser than I am.” As he tells it, Ram Dass’s eyes narrowed as he shot back, “Don’t you lay that wisdom shit on me, Barlow” — “thereby,” says Barlow, “defeating his own argument with its refutation.”

      This strikes me as a viable response to designations of brilliance as well. πŸ˜‰

      But seriously, many thanks for the positive words.

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