Carrie Cuinn (ed.), Cthulhurotica (Dagan Books, 2010)
You see a name like Cthulhurotica and you gotta think “tentacle porn”. Well, okay, maybe not if you’re not into anime, but who isn’t these days? And Cuinn, in her amusing introduction to this volume, makes that exact same argument, and then basically says “we got a lot of that submitted, but hey, we got some good stuff too, and here it is.” And she’s right.
I grant you, by staying away from porn, Cuinn ended up treading a line in many places between Cthulhurotica and Cthulhuromance, which is not necessarily an awful thing at all (the most obvious example of this is Don Pizarro’s “The C-Word”, which, perhaps not coincidentally, ended up being my favorite story in the volume). Not to say that the authors who got down and dirty didn’t do so in ways that will get the reader’s Old Ones up and running; Gabrielle Harbowy’s “Descent of the Wayward Sister” is just delicious, and oh, Mae Empson’s “Between a Rock and an Elder Goddess.”
Which is not to say, as is usually the case with anthologies, there aren’t a few misses here and there. Andrew Searce’s “The Lake at Roopkund” is exactly the sort of lesbian-phobic nonsense I’d hoped we’d all gotten past by now (and if it was meant in any ironic sense, Searce did a bit too good a job at not tipping the wink), for example.
The book concludes with a handful of essays that turned out to be, well, just as interesting as the stories. Wasn’t expecting that in the slightest. Score! I must admit, I went into this one not knowing what to expect, and ended up liking it a great deal more than I expected. *** ½