Review of The Unnameable: Four Tales by H.P. Lovecraft

SFFaudio Review

The Unnameable by H.P. LovecraftThe Unnameable: Four Tales by H.P. Lovecraft
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by David Cade
1 CD – 1 Hour 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tales Of Orpheus /
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0955209005
Themes: / Fantasy / Horror / Cthulhu Mythos / Cats / Music /

“We were sitting on a dilapidated seventeenth – century tomb in the late afternoon of an autumn day at the old burying ground in Arkham, and speculating about the unnamable.”

Dumb move guys, being in Arkham was the first mistake. Hanging out at the cemetary at twilight was the second. You don’t get a third with Lovecraft. Fortunately we get both a third and a fourth! This collection contains four complete Howard Philips Lovecraft short stories! Included are:

“The Book”
Told in a creepy first person, a disembodied voice, a voice that decries the day it discovered “the book”, in a library beside a great black oily river. The voice has forgotten its family, its life, even its own name. You will never forget this story. Probably written in 1933, a point at which Lovecraft was at the height of his powers, it shows.

“The Music Of Erich Zann”
One step from vagrancy, our anonymous narrator, recalls a fellow lodger Erich Zann. They shared a decrepit building on a mysterious French street, but Zann’s eerie music was not nearly as haunting as horror that chased him. First published in 1921, still

“The Cats Of Ulthar”
A cryptic fable that gives reason to why killing a cat may be the most dangerous thing one can ever do. There are two kinds of people in the world: Dog people and
cat people. H.P. Lovecraft was obviously a cat person. Cats are mysterious, small but quite powerful and work best at night, just like this story. First published

“The Unnameable”
Randolph Carter, who we already know from The Statement Of Randolph Carter recalls the events which followed their visit to an Arkham, MA cemetary. This is the only story in this collection considered part of the Cthulhu Mythos and Carter is probably the only character to survive two brushes with the who should not be named. First published 1923.

British actor David Cade reads all four tales. There is some question in my mind on one matter, does having an English accent whilst reading very American stories necessitate a conflict? It probably would if there was much dialogue – but seeing as Lovecraft was far friendlier with exposition than he was with speaking parts it isn’t much of an issue at all. Cade is effective at bringing the mostly expository prose to gruesome life. All four stories are framed by muscial excerpts that are very well matched to the thematic material. One thing that bothered me greatly though was the lack of titles, each track is distinctly seperated by music, but the stories themselves are not named in the audio, one must look at the back of the CD case to find out which story you are listening to – something a blind listener would be unable to do.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Catskin by Kelly Link

By Kelly Link; Read by Kelly Link
|REALAUDIO|* – Approx. 56 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: WNYC
Broadcast: Nov. 1st 2002
Themes: / Fantasy / Horror / Magic / Witchcraft / Cats /

This short story by Nebula, World Fantasy, and James Tiptree Jr. Award winning author Kelly Link can be heard by listening to this archived radio show.

This is an unusual tale of the death of a lonely witch whose magical family must deal with the death of their mother. Frightening mental images and an unconventional approach to traditional horror and fantasy marks much of Kelly Link’s work . Like Neil Gaiman, Link is working with traditional themes, but overturning our expectations and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, Link reads this tale very matter-of-factly, something all too common with author-performed stories and of course this adds nothing to an otherwise interesting tale. Link’s reading is also accompanied by a constant tinkling and trumpeting musical background – if it merely introduced and concluded the reading it would be great but because it doesn’t it simply distracts from the telling. One other minor issue is the long pauses up to six seconds. Such pauses make the listener think the reading has concluded prematurely. Despite these audio production problems, Catskin makes for a chilling Halloween themed listen.

*Be sure to zip all the way to the end of the first hour of the show and then to the 2 minute mark of the second hour of the show.

Posted by Jesse Willis