Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft

Source: Cthulhu Podcast, Episodes 13, 14 and 15
Length: 1 hr, 42 min
Reader: Mark Nelson

The story: Imagine discovering papers concerning a shadowy religion, dedicated to the downfall of order and civilization. Sure, it's just a conspiracy theory, you think, but evidence begins to mount until you can't deny it any longer. Then you realize that you might have learned too much. . .

This is the premise of "Call of Cthulhu", one of many stories in H.P. Lovecraft's "Cthulhu mythos," but strangely enough the only story that features the squid-headed being Cthulhu himself. Lovecraft gradually builds the narrative in three parts, each touching closer to the source of a eerie cult that spans the globe. I've been told that Lovecraft's mythos was one of the inspirations for The X-files, and this story has the same queasy feeling of not-rightness. This is not such a scary story that you'll be staying up at night, but it is a piece of narrative that takes hold of the imagination to envision further scenarios. Indeed, many authors have built their own version of Lovecraft's imagery. If you'd like to hear an example, check out Neil Gaiman's story "A Study in Emerald" which features Sherlock Holmes in Lovecraft's world.

Rating: 7/10

The reader: Mark Nelson is an internet audiobook superstar. In addition to his recordings at Librivox and WonderAudio, he has his own podcast SciPodBooks that features classic science fiction. Here, he does a superb job of building suspense as the story delves deeper into the cult's secrets. Lovecraft is known for difficult sentence structures and vocabulary, but Nelson does an excellent job of making it understandable, even pronouncing the cult's unpronounceable gibberish. The recording is clear and enhanced by sparse use of mood-setting music at the beginning and end of each episode. My only misgiving is that Nelson's voice may be a little too wholesome for such a dark story, but that's not something he can help short of taking up a pack-a-day cigarette habit (please don't, Mark).

This review copyright 2008 Free Listens.


Felbrigg said...


Thanks for mentioning my podcast, and for pointing out Mark's own podcast, I hadn't realised he was doing that!

I thought Mark did an excellent job in his reading I was so pleased when he offered to do the story as I'm a huge fan of his Librivox recordings.

Anyway, thanks again, and keep the reviews coming I read every one.


mel u said...

I am looking for first Lovecraft-this will perhaps be it-if I read it I will come back and post my reaction-thanks for the tip