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Terrors, by Richard A. Lupoff
Genre: Mixed Genre Anthology
Publisher: Elder Signs Press
Published: 2005
Review Posted: 5/26/2008
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Terrors, by Richard A. Lupoff

Book Review by Jeff Edwards

Have you read this book?

Terrors, a retrospective anthology of Richard A. Lupoff's short fiction, mixes reprints from as far back as 1972 with new work seeing print for the first time.

The book opens with "The Crimson Wizard," a wonderfully wistful piece about a bedridden boy named Arlie who fills each day with familiar routines and radio stories until he faces a difficult decision: Should he follow his favorite hero on the greatest adventure of all, or stay behind to grow up and write stories of his own? Next, the collection segues to a pair of tales that Arlie might have dreamt up himself: "The Crimson Wizard and the Jewels of Lemuria" and "The Golden Saint Meets the Scorpion Queen."

Clearly, Lupoff has found a niche in nostalgic visions of bygone eras. "Streamliner" is a 1940s piece set on a train bound from Chicago to Los Angeles; en route, two "men in black" are drawn into strange goings-on involving a platinum blonde, stolen cash, and an occupied casket. "The Adventure of the Voorish Sign" is a thrilling Sherlock Holmes tale pitting the famed detective against acolytes of the Wisdom Temple of the Dark Heavens. And "The Secret of the Sahara" is a splendid "new" Jules Verne story guest-starring Lovecraft's Old Ones.

Lupoff frequently demonstrates his fondness for Lovecraftian pastiche. In "The Doom that Came to Dunwich," a "member of a distant (and undecayed) branch" of the Whateley family ventures into a notorious New England town in order to research its "horror" of 1928. And in "The Devil's Hop Yard," a "typical denizen of Dunwich's hilly environs" takes up with a Whateley woman, resulting in a most unusual offspring.

Elsewhere, Lupoff proves that he can move beyond homage in tales like "At Vega's Taqueria." Its opening scenes are reminiscent of something Charles Beaumont might have scripted for "The Twilight Zone," but the story wanders deeper into surreal territory with every page, as its confused and disoriented protagonist wonders, "Could the world change?...But somehow I didn't...?"

Lupoff is adept at building an atmosphere of mystery and dread in stories such as "Documents in the Case of Elizabeth Akeley" and "The Heyworth Fragment." When he tries to lighten the mood, though, the outcome is not entirely satisfactory. "The Horror South of Red Hook" is a clever parody of Lovecraft, but the joke wears thin as the tale drags on. And while "Lights! Camera!! Shub-Niggurath!!!" may appeal to fans of irreverent science fiction like "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," the story feels out of place here.

Some writers peak early in their careers yet continue to churn out work as their creative powers fade. Richard A. Lupoff's muse, however, remains vibrant, and Terrors celebrates over three decades of short fiction from a master of the form.
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