Space Eldtritch. A Lovecraftian horror anthology edited by Nathan Shumate.
“In space, no one can hear you gibber in maddness.” (Theme for Space Eldritch I)
Three stories stood out to me in particular: “Space Opera” by Michael R. Collings, “The Shadows of Titan” by Carter Reid and Brad R. Torgerson, and “Flight of the Runewright” by Howard Taylor. I liked the trajectory of these three stories the best, was sucked in by the tension and the premises they presented, I liked the characters, and the story endings remained most distinct in my mind.
“Space Opera” follows the crew of unempathetic, insect-like aliens on a journey to colonize new worlds. Michael Collings has a wonderful way with description that makes the weirdness of the primary creatures in this story intriguing. His prose is just beautiful, though the world and characters he’s created are terrifying.
Brad Torgerson is a master storyteller. I enjoyed his descriptions and his ability to manipulate tension within the story “The Shadows of Titan,” about a crew of astronauts bound to explore an alien pyramid trapped in the frozen surface of Saturn’s moon, Titan. This author’s voice and style are very distinct, and his first-person narrative makes it so easy to step into the skin of the characters.
“Flight of the Runewright” was both somewhat comical and duly terrifying. The mystery and tension surrounding the protagonist’s escape aboard a ship with runes inscribed on the outside that could drive one mad if viewed with both eyes (or both brain hemispheres engaged) was an intriguing concept and fantastically executed.
Dave Butler’s “Arise, Thou Niarlat From Thy Rest” presented a fascinating threat that wove the lives of characters from three different times and places together in one struggle to either raise a cosmic evil or keep it at bay a little longer. Dave’s ability to shift not only viewpoints but settings from vastly different time periods and universes in an authentic way truly shows off his strengths in versatility as a storyteller.
“The Menace Under Mars” by Nathan Shumate has a similar premise to “Shadows of Titan,” but the pyramid hidden in a Martian crater is a completely unexpected discovery by the crew who stumbles across it, and the dark cosmic forces driving the chaos take on a completely different form. I enjoyed the exploration sequences in the crater away from base the most–the alien architecture was interesting and the tension was great.
David J. West’s “Gods in the Darkness” featured his mastery of descriptive action sequences where a space crew battles a leviathan creature headed for Earth as their ship descends into chaos.
“The Fury in the Void” by by Robert J. Defendi follows a Russian military space crew trying to stop genocide and torture left in the wake of battling ships when they encounter a dark presence in the universe that is far more horrifying than anything else they’ve known. This story had some creepy human-to-alien transformation sequences that I thought were interesting, and an ending that leaves you wondering just what doom awaits the universe.
Overall, a good sampling of stories bound by an interesting theme: Lovecraftian horror in space.