Title: Black Wings of Cthulhu 3
Editor: S. T. Joshi
Genre: Cosmic Horror
Rating: 3 of 5
Despite having Cthulhu in the title, the Black Wings short story collections feature fewer appearances of Lovecraft’s alien-god-monsters than most cosmic horror collections. They aren’t absent by any means, but S. T. Joshi tends to avoid stories that he considers to be mere Lovecraftian pastiches. Instead, he collects stories that deal with cosmic horror themes (e.g. the utter insignificance of humanity in the face of a vast uncaring cosmos) that may or may not feature Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, and company and may or may not be set in Innsmouth, Arkham, Miskatonic University, etc.. That said, there is enough Lovecraftian name dropping that a person not acquainted with the mythos will probably miss the full impact of some of the stories (some of it gets pretty meta).
One of the things that I like about cosmic horror is that (unlike a lot of horror) it doesn’t usually rely on graphic gore or sex for its thrills and chills. Unfortunately, that doesn’t hold true for all of the stories in this collection, so that was a bit of a disappointment. Overall, this was a pretty typical S. T. Joshi-edited collection. Personally, I think that he is a bit of a snob who takes Lovecraft waaaay too seriously, but he does know how to pick well-written stories.
(Also, this is another book off my list for The Official TBR Pile Challenge.)