Genre Horror Publisher Elder Signs Press Year Published 2005 Review Posted on 10/14/2006 Reviewer Rating
10 out of 10
Hive, by Tim Curran
Book Review by Jeff Edwards
Have you read this book?
Despite the prospect of another long, dark winter, excitement is running high at Kharkhov Station
in Antarctica. Scientists have discovered the ruins of an ancient city beneath the ice, and are
bringing some prehistoric mummies back to the station for further study. But anticipation turns to
terror as the creatures begin to thaw, and history is doomed to repeat itself in Hive, Tim
Curran's sequel to H.P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness."
Writing a sequel to an icon of speculative fiction is a daunting task, but Curran proves that he's up
to the challenge. From page one, his words demand to be savored for their mesmerizing power
and strong imagery: Antarctica as cemetery; winter as hungry beast. Lovecraft fans will feel the
thrill of recognition at Curran's first description of an Old One: a seven-foot, barrel-shaped
creature with wings, tentacles, triangular spade-like feet and a head shaped "like a great
Using Lovecraft's novella as a foundation, Curran updates and expands the tale: Hive is
set in modern times with a working-class main character, and further explores the dynamics
between the Old Ones and humans. According to Lovecraft, the Old Ones regarded man as a
"shambling, primitive mammal, used sometimes for food and sometimes as an amusing buffoon."
But Curran reveals a far more predatory relationship: a mental battle pitting humanity against an
ancient, overpowering intellect.
Curran's story fares well when compared to Lovecraft's: Contemporary audiences might even
prefer the sequel over the original, given Lovecraft's often tedious prose. Ultimately, however,
Hive's potency is diluted by the numerous writers and filmmakers who have already
followed Lovecraft's lead. When Curran says that "myths and legends concerning winged
demons...might be race memories," it sounds like the explanation for "all the myths and legends"
of the Devil in Arthur C. Clarke's novel "Childhood's End": "Could it be that...there was such a
thing as racial memory?" And fans of Ridley Scott's "Alien" or John Carpenter's "The Thing" may
feel like they've already watched scenes from Hive up on the silver screen decades ago.
Curran tries to address the issue by making references to both versions of "The Thing" within his
story. But the damage is already done, and so the climax in Hive seems, well,
anticlimactic (Curran even writes "That's all there was to it") and the final confrontation is just a
variation of the mano a mano showdown that we've seen in countless movies over the
Perhaps Curran predicted such criticism: In his novel, he writes, "Everything was passed around,
re-told, re-invented." This is, after all, "a sequel over seventy years in the making," and genre
fiction fans should rejoice now that a gripping, bona fide continuation of Lovecraft's
influential novella has finally been unleashed.