Finished World War Cthulhu.
As the name implies, this is an anthology of (to quote the subtitle) "Lovecraftian war stories". While it does mostly
stick to this theme, there are a few arguable cases, but eh, not a big
deal. I'm reading this for the Lovecraftian part of that phrase, not
for the war. Most of the stories here are just okay. Not bad, just
not great, either. There are a few standouts, though.
First, the one story that really, really
annoyed me: "The Bullet and the Flesh" by David Conyers and David
Kernot. Conyers' series hero, Harrison Peel, and another spec ops
ubermensch try to stop a Zimbabwean colonel who's purchased a
xenobiological weapon. I've not read Kernot before, but I've read
Conyers, and this is of a piece with his other work. He writes like a
Tom Clancy ghostwriter. His weapons are more detailed then his
characters' personalities, his prose is bland, and he has absolutely no
sense of either atmosphere or setting.
On the good side: Darrel
Schweitzer comes perilously close to knocking it out of the park with
"Stragglers from Carrhae." Two Roman legionnaires trying to escape
from the disaster at Carrhae encounter high strangeness in the Arabian
desert. The story doesn't quite gel fully, but it's still excellent.
story that almost but not quite makes it to the top tier: "The Procyon
Project" by Tim Curran. A badly injured marine, both physically and
spiritually, returns to the US during World War II, where he gets a job
as night watchman at an interesting facility. I was pleasantly surprised by this one, because I hated the previous Tim Curran book I read, Hive,
but this is very good. The first half is just exquisite, with an
excellent, appealingly human character, and a steadily mounting sense of
dread. Unfortunately, the second half, as the shit hits the fan,
doesn't live up to the first. This would be a stronger story if he'd
just chopped off the last bit and left it as "weird stuff happened, I'm
not telling you why."
While those three are the big standouts,
most of these stories are just okay. If you're looking for something
to kill a few hours, this will fit the bill. On the balance, I give
this 3/5 stars.