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Looks like I'll be representing Cthulhu's Dark Cults at the Nightmare Ball during AussieCon 4.

I better wear my cephalopod tie.

: )

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Positive Amazon review of Cthulhu's Dark Cults, including a special mention of my story.

The majority of stories are really well written and portray sympathetic and interesting characters, there's one where I genuinely felt sadness for one of the main characters in `Perfect Skin' but I won't give away too much of that story but it is very good.

In other writing news, I've just read over the galley proofs for "Sweet as Decay", a story I collaborated on with my friend David Conyers.

It's about an idealistic human rights worker in a dictatorial African country who uncovers the hideous truth about how the local tyrant is treating his opposition. David brought the African politics and history. I brought the bleak moral dilemmas.

We actually wrote it several years ago, but it's only now being published in an anthology called Macabre from Brimstone Press. Macabre will be launched at Worldcon in early September

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Innsmouth Free Press have posted a review of Cthulhu's Dark Cults:

David Witteveen’s “Perfect Skin” is one of the better stories – uncompromising, eerie and unsettling. Although the cult’s motives are cryptic, its malignance and methods build up satisfyingly to the story’s horrific conclusion, which, while not wholly surprising, is effective and stands well alone even without a familiarity with Lovecraft’s work.

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People think of the Cthulhu Mythos as being all about the tentacles and the unpronounceable names.

And it's true that H. P. Lovecraft appears to have had a a traumatic experience in a seafood deli at an impressionable age.

But while I love hideous alien gods with octopuses for heads as much as the next person, it's two other things that keep me coming back.

The first is the utterly bleak existential despair. Lovecraft's horror stories have no truck with the comforting little Christianity of, say, Dennis Wheatley, where the forces of good battle the wiles of the Devil with all the politeness of an English village cricket match.

No. The horror in Lovecraft's tales comes from his understanding that we are ants, lost in a vast and uncaring universe. And there are forces in this universe that are so vast and strange and indifferent to us that if we try to think about them too hard we will go insane. There is no God to protect us. The only reason these hideous cosmic forces have not destroyed us yet is because they are having a little nap.

The other reason I love the Mythos is the 1920s.

Lovecraft was my gateway into the Roaring Twenties. It's because of him that I read Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies and T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland. And then you research a bit deeper, and find the Surrealists painting away in Paris, and Howard Carter uncovering the tomb of Tutankhamen, and Clara Bow having hideous stories printed about her sex life, and Freud's psychoanalysis entering mainstream medicine.

And dancing through it all you have the Bright Young Things, the generation that invented the generation gap, who invented sex and drugs and Negro music. Desperately gay, desperately trying to forget the horrors of the Great War.

That's what I love about writing Mythos stories. You can draw on all of that. The cephalopod stuff is strictly for the tourists.

Which is a long-winded way of pointing you at this: my friend David Conyers is writing introductions to the stories in the Cthulhu's Dark Cults book he edited. (Disclaimer: Yes, One of my stories is in that book too.)

The first is on John Goodrich's "Captains of Industry", which is about the bloody battles between strikebreakers and unionists in 1920's Boston. There's a short extract in David's article. Within the first paragraphs we not only have unionists preparing for battle with the strikebreakers, we have the Pinkerton Detective Agency and a Russian socialist in there too.

I'm looking forward to reading it. And we haven't even touched on the tentacles.


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