THE DISCIPLES OF CTHULHU, edited by Edward P. Berglund

"An Overview of Dr. Who Cthulhu Mythos Novels", by James Ambuehl

"An Overview of Chuck's Electronic Publishing", by James Ambuehl

THE DISCIPLES OF CTHULHU, edited by Edward P. Berglund. Oakland: Chaosium Books, 1996. 258 pp. $10.95. ISBN 1-56882-054-2. (Revised and reprinted from The Disciples of Cthulhu, edited by Edward P. Berglund, DAW books, 1976)

[Reviewed by James Ambuehl]

I remember when I first encountered the original edition of this book. I was on a family trip somewhere, and having just recently read all of the major Ballantine Lovecrafts, including Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, Volumes One and Two, I walked into some nameless bookstore and immediately asked the proprietor if he had anything on Lovecraft or the Cthulhu Mythos. He produced a stack of Lovecraftian fanzines, and a paperback with a haunting portrait of Cthulhu etched against a dark, stormy sky on the cover: The Disciples of Cthulhu. I passed on the fanzines (and I am still kicking myself today for such a blunder -- no telling WHAT was therein!), but immediately snatched up the book. I have vague memories of being bored nearly to death by the trip, visiting relatives I didn't even know I had, but I do remember that throughout it all The Disciples of Cthulhu helped me to keep my sanity. It was one of my first Mythos books, aside from the Lovecraft and Tales, back when I used to be able to keep my Mythos collection in a small box under my bed (now it takes up two bookshelves, three file cabinets and numerous carefully-indexed boxes!), and it's always been one of the very best books in my collection, a highly-treasured friend which I've returned to time and time again.

First of all, let me start off by saying that even if you do have the original printing of Disciples, you will still want to pick up this new edition for there have been a few contents changes (and the illustrations by Earl Geier at the end of the stories are very worthwhile too!). As editor Berglund describes in his "Preface to the Revised Edition," some stories from the original had to be dropped. First off, Lin Carter's "Zoth-Ommog" had to go ... since it was later reprinted by Chaosium in the Carter collection The Xothic Legend-Cycle, which I also heartily recommend! Second, Joseph Payne Brennan's "The Feaster From Afar" (again later reprinted in the second edition of The Hastur Cycle) had to go, since at the time of the book's assembling there seemed to be no heirs to be found for the author's literary estate! But luckily, this has now been rectified, and you can all look forward to his fine Ithaqua tale "Jendick's Swamp" (from the Greystone Bay book Doom City, edited by Charles L. Grant, TOR Books, 1987) to be reprinted in the forthcoming Ithaqua Cycle volume!

But as replacement for the two stories Berglund reprints A. A. Attanasio's "Glimpses" from Nameless Places (edited by Gerald W. Page, Arkham House, 1975) (the editor explains that the story's original home was to be Disciples!) and a new tale from Robert M. Price featuring a team-up between Robert E. Howard's hard-boiled P.I. Steve Harrison and Lin Carter's Dr. Strange-styled magician, Anton Zarnak -- both Mythos superheroes extraordinaire in their own rights. Surprisingly, such a teaming works well, as evidenced here by "Dope War of the Black Tong."

Brian Lumley's "The Fairground Horror" (slightly revised for its appearance here) is a very engaging tale about a man who tries to exploit the Cthulhu Mythos to his own ends. To my mind it is as fresh and relevant today as it was twenty years ago, and proof positive that even in the beginning Lumley knew what he was doing and did it better than most! "The Silence of Erika Zann" by James Wade, however, does seem a bit dated with its "acid rock combos" and "hippie free spirits" -- but despite this, this sequel to HPL's "The Music of Erich Zann" is an intriguing update to the Master's works. Wade really had a lot to say in the Mythos before his untimely death in 1983. Especially worth reading is his story "The Deep Ones" in Arkham House's original edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (1969).

"All-Eye" by Bob Van Laerhoven is a strange piece, sort of a "Wendigo meets Cthulhu" set in the northern wilds of Canada. And considering that the author is a Belgian friend of Disciples contributor Eddy Bertin, and likely has never set foot in the Canadian wilds, it is surprising that this tale is so colorful and atmospheric. Van Laerhoven really makes the woods come alive with menace!

"The Tugging" by Ramsey Campbell is one I'm sure you're all familiar with, yet to my mind it is one of his best tales, a very able blending of his earlier rural Lovecraftian-style with his own later urban style -- and his addition to the Mythos of the entity Ghroth is most welcome indeed!

"Where Yidhra Walks" by Walter C. DeBill, Jr., is one of the finest Lovecraftian stories by one of the finest Lovecraftian authors EVER . . . and you should be as excited as I am that Chaosium plans to bring out a collection of his works in the future! Very able to stand alongside Campbell, Lumley, Rainey, Pugmire and the like, DeBill is one author whose work REALLY deserves a collection! The tale here adds some much-needed sex appeal to the Mythos with the very sensuous and alluring (yet horrible!) goddess Yidhra.

A.A. Attanasio's "Glimpses" is an amazing work, a successful blending of Mythos horror and the science fictional themes he loves so well! In fact, not being a particular fan of science fiction myself, I'd be hard-pressed to try to describe just what happens in the story. But I think a hard science fiction fan would enjoy it immensely! Price's "Dope War of the Back Tong" I mentioned before, but let me just say that though the tale deals with the Tcho-Tcho cult that worships Lloigor and Zhar from Derleth and Schorer's "Lair of the Star-Spawn," the tale is not without its element of humor. Not that it's a parody or anything, but it does contain some very BAD puns!

Eddy C. Bertin's "Darkness, My Name Is" is a piece no Mythos fan should miss! This atmospheric tale attempts to turn the countryside of Germany into something akin to Lovecraft's Arkham, or especially Dunwich, and succeeds admirably! Bertin has written some other very remarkable tales, notably "The Gibbering Walls" in Crypt of Cthulhu #65 (June/July 1989), and "Concerto For a Satin Vampire" in the Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association, mailing # 40 (October 1982), and, of course, "Eyurid," with the Dutch artist Tais Teng from his own press Dunwich House in Belgium in 1980, (all of which deserve a wider reprinting) yet to my mind the tale here is his best yet. But "Eyurid" is a very close second, which tale of reincarnation illustrates admirably the life and death and LIFE of HPL himself!

And last, but definitely not least, we have Fritz Leiber's "The Terror From the Depths." This seems to me to be the perfect tale to end the book on, for along with its new Mythos ideas and themes (the poet Fischer and the Winged Worms of Cthulhu) it presents a bit of nostalgia -- bringing into its fold Lovecraft's Albert N. Wilmarth, as well as covering the senior staff of Miskatonic University, and even interjecting Lovecraft himself into its Hollywood hills milieu! This, along with Leiber's other Lovecraftian story, "To Arkham and the Stars" (The Dark Brotherhood by H. P. Lovecraft and Others, Arkham House, 1966; reprinted in Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos by H.P. Lovecraft and Divers Hands, Arkham House, 1990), seems to point to the fact that Leiber himself created the Wilmarth Foundation (at least in theme, if not the name!) of Mythos warriors, later utilized by Brian Lumley in his Titus Crow, and related novels.

So there you have it: one of the best straightforward and unabashed Cthulhu Mythos anthologies ever! Berglund should be congratulated, as should Chaosium for having the foresight to reprint it! And best news of all, Berglund tells me he's hard at work on The Disciples of Cthulhu II!

If you ever see the old DAW paperback, I urge you to pick it up. The cover painting by Karel Thole makes it especially worthwhile. But in the meantime, get the newly-updated edition. You won't be disappointed!




James Ambuehl

In 1991 Virgin Publishing in England started up a line of new non-television script-based Dr. Who novels: First came the New Adventures series, and later, the Missing Adventures series. And one very interesting subplot which appeared now and then in both sets of novels is the Cthuhlu Mythos!

Basically, the authors decided that maybe some of those vastly-powerful malignant bodiless forces behind the scenes in the Dr. Who Universe were akin to the Great Old Ones themselves: The Animus on the web planet Vortis became Lloigor; the Great Intelligence of Yeti-controlling fame was Yog-Sothoth; the Nestene consciousness was stated to be Shub-Niggurath and so on.

Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that, and I am hard at work on an article with Brian Ghoti on just this subject -- which we eventually hope to place somewhere on Reader's Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos web site -- but I wanted to briefly point out to the reader a few of the more Cthulhu-related books of the series.

These are solid, readable novels. Whether they are just Mythos-influenced novels or full-fledged Mythos novels is up to your own view of the Mythos, I think, but even if you do disagree with the basic premises the books do contain enough Mythosian elements to warrant a closer look.

But I warn you: the publisher, Virgin is going through a major upset very soon, and these books won't be available for much longer. So get them while you can!

Here they are:

-- WHITE DARKNESS -- David A. McIntee (1993) (ISBN: 0-426-20395-X)

This book features a faction of the German army in the early years of the First World War trying to raise a Cthulhu-like Old One from its aeons-old sleep in Haiti (although later authors in the series have said it WAS Cthulhu himself, McIntee has stated himself on Internet posts that it was not!). Among its Cthulhoid plots this book contains references to the Book of Eibon, De Vermis Mysteriis, the Book of Dzyan, and even introduces a new version of the Necronomicon: The Beginner's Guide to the Necronomicon, and even quotes from it!:

"Even as the Great Old Ones may return from their resting slumber, so the adept may, by use of the Ashes of Noah, and essential Saltes, call his fellow man back from the great beyond."

-- ALL-CONSUMING FIRE -- Andy Lane (1994) (ISBN: 0-426-20415-8)

The Doctor teams up with no less a personality than Sherlock Holmes, and on the planet R'lyeh (!) they do battle with something calling itself Azathoth. Amongst its elements are mentions of De Vermis Mysteriis, and a quote from page 221 of the novel helps to illustrate a view of the Cthulhu Mythos in the Dr. Who Universe (complete with erroneous Cthulhu appearance mentioned above!):

"The Great Old Ones are these gods. There's Cthulhu, who we met in Haiti . . . and the Gods of Ragnarok . . . and Nyarlathotep, who I sincerely hope never to encounter. And Dagon, who was worshipped by the Sea Devils, and the entity known as Hastur the Unspeakable who also goes around calling himself Fenric . . . and Yog-Sothoth, who I met in Tibet and again in London, and Lloigor, who settled quite happily on Vortis . . . oh, there's a lot of them. All alien to this universe and its laws, both moral and physical."

-- MILLENNIAL RITES -- Craig Hinton (1995) (ISBN: 0-426-20455-7)

In its somewhat convoluted plot concerning the rebirth of magic in the technological age, this book again backs up the details in the quote from All-Consuming Fire given above -- adding Shub-Niggurath as the Nestene consciousness bit -- and deals especially with the entity Yog-Sothoth. Hinton's description of Yog-Sothoth is in keeping with the Mythos (slimy and tentacled, with lots of eyes and mouths!) and he even introduces a new Mythos tome: The Many Eyes, Lies, and Lives of Yog-Sothoth by Count Alexei Mussomov. In addition, the author also mentions familiar Mythos tomes such as the Eltdown Shards, Pnakotic Manuscripts, and the Book of Eibon.

Well, there you have it: three very intriguing Mythos-related novels -- and keep a cyclopean eye peeled for our article on same!




James Ambuehl

(All publications discussed herein are available directly from the publisher. Send check or money order to Gary Thomas (NOT C.E.P.!) at: 417 Claxton Crescent, Prince George, B.C. V2M 6B8 CANADA. Prices: $8 plus $2 postage for each book, except ELDER SIGNS, which is $10 plus $2.50). Or go to their web site.

-- THE HORROR GAMER #1 (1996)

Like most of Chuck's publications thus far, this booklet is solely written by Gary Thomas, head honcho of C.E.P. It's a collection of scenarios and articles for use with Call of Cthulhu. Thomas seems to have a real fascination with the works of the early writers of the supernatural -- M.R. James, A. Merritt, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and so on -- and the works of Robert E. Howard. "The Conqueror Worm" is an especially intriguing scenario in which the investigators team up with King Kull against the Great Old One Gol-Goroth! In addition, there are articles on The Children of the Night in REH's works, the arcane volumes of M.R. James, killer plants, psychic detectives, stonehenge, and a whole lot more!

-- THE SONGS OF MADNESS -- G. W. Thomas (1997)

This collection of exclusively Mythos stories is a very inspired one, many of the stories exhibiting a craft and ease of style usually somewhat lacking in the work of others. That is not to say, however, that they are all wholly original, for some of these stories seem more like tributes to the Mythos than actual stories:

"There Was An Old Lady" is a strange piece, owing an obvious, if unexpected debt, to Mother Goose nursery rhymes, while "The Man Who Would Be King" follows in the footsteps of the Maine Man -- successfully wedding King's themes to the Master, HPL's. Yet the WAY they emulate their models, especially in the former, is ingenious!

Some of the stories are a little weak, perhaps: "The Other Woman" is amusing but a bit overlong and "The People" doesn't really seem to go anywhere.

But two of the stories certainly stand out: "The Court of Two Lions," is an Arkham ghost/paranoia/elder race tale worthy of Lovecraft himself! "The Songs of Madness" is also rich in detail and enthralling and very cosmically Lovecraftian as well! These two stories alone are worth the price of the book, with the others just icing on the cake (or, ichor on the altar, if you like)!

-- GHOULTIDE GREETINGS -- G. W. Thomas (1997)

This, too, is a very worthwhile collection of Christmas horror-theme tales (twelve tales!) -- less Lovecraftian in content and leaning more towards the M.R. James ghost story school -- but worthwhile nevertheless.

Of course, there ARE two Cthulhoid stories herein: "The Drawer" concerns itself with that time-honored theme, revenge from beyond the grave (and has thinly-disguised versions of Brian Lumley and Ramsey Campbell as its main characters!) and "A Thousand Cuts, A Thousand Deaths" is a grisly little affair concerning criticism taken to the utmost (which reminds me: I hope publisher Thomas likes my overview . . . if not, I SHUDDER to think of the consequences!)

Also very impressive is the creepy-crawly "The Ornament," the grotesquely comical "The Suit," and the hauntingly beautiful "The Green Man" and "And No Bird Sings."

But really, all the stories are interesting, an I await more work from Thomas with open tentacles!

-- ELDER SIGNS #1 (1997)

Just recently released, this is a fine anthology of Cthulhu Mythos fiction -- and its versatility in theme illustrates to good effect the versatility yet inherent in the Mythos tapestry at large!

"If You Go Down to the Woods Today . . ." by Per J. Okerstrom and Chuck's editor/publisher Thomas would have found itself at home in the upcoming Delta Green fiction anthology Alien Intelligence, from Pagan Publishing, with its technological horror theme of Men-In-Black and things far worse waiting in the wings -- as perhaps could have Tim Jones' Cyber-Cthulhoid "The Temple in the Matrix," as well.

On the more traditional side of the Mythos (some would call it "pulp") we have my own "The Horror That Came to Innsmouth," a look at the Innsmouth Raid of 1928 from a different point-of-view than the human, and Jeremy E. Johnson's "The Isle of Cthulhu," a semi-sequel to HPL's "The Call of Cthulhu."

Also worth mentioning are Nightscapes's editor, Paul Berglund's "The Crystal," a very cosmically-flavored Severn Valley tale, and probably the first legitimately Cthulhoid tale I've seen by D. F. Lewis -- the genuinely scary "Bobtail"! The remaining two stories by C.L. Werner and Jack L. Thomas were not bad either for first efforts, but very obviously first efforts.

In addition to these fine publications, Chuck's also has for sale two others, which I have not yet purchased: Night Visions and Rainbow Man. And I should also mention that all of the publications are lavishly illustrated, with art by the likes of Marc Damicis, Sam DeGraff, Paul Lambo, Toren Atkinson, Gary Thomas and the especially fine work of Roddy Williams. So what are you waiting for? Write to Chuck's, or e-mail them today!



© 1997 Edward P. Berglund
All reviews: © 1997 by their respective writers.
Graphics © 1997 Old Arkham Graphics Design. All rights reserved. Email to: Corey T. Whitworth.

Created: September 18, 1997; Updated: August 9, 2004