H.P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror, #1.5

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"The Smackdown Outside Dedham" by Charles Coleman Finlay
"Amontillado Cam" by Greg Beatty
"The Ghost of Dora Hand" by Loay H. Hall
"The Prize" by C. H. Sherman
"Monopoly" by Greg Beatty

ImageThis issue was a disappointment, especially since the previous one was so well done. There is only one story in this issue that I enjoyed. However, the editorial and the non-fiction features are quite enjoyable. Also, Issue #1.5 was made to tide over the subscribers while DNA publication switched their distributors—a nice gesture.

"The Smackdown Outside Dedham" by Charles Coleman Finlay is the only really good tale in this issue. It is a liberal retelling of Lovecraft’s "The Colour out of Space" (I think.) Tommy Decker, a WWF aficionado, is watching a Smackoff!, which is interrupted by a meteorite strike in a forested area outside of Dedham, OH. Tommy’s desire to get the tickets to Smackoff! Live in Columbus send him on a search for sellable timber in the area devastated by the meteorite. In addition to timber, Tommy finds a piece of the meteorite, and discovers that the hunk of stone from space has some very strange properties.

While Tommy is not the most likeable character in the world, I found that his love of wrestling provided a great narrative drive. The tone of the story recalls the eerie Lovecraftian feel, without resorting to pastiche or imitation.

"Amontillado Cam" by Greg Beatty is a less successful example of a classic tale transplanted into the modern world. It is a retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s "Cask of Amontillado" in a talk-show setting. It doesn’t add anything to the story, and the constant references to other Poe’s titles (like a sound-tech and the camera guy named William and Wilson) made me cringe a bit. Still, it is a short and pretty funny story, and Fortunato recast as a beer-bellied loudmouth was amusing.

"The Ghost of Dora Hand" by Loay H. Hall is a western, with an obligatory beautiful dancer, and a love triangle involving a mayor and an outlaw. This story is poorly written, with wooden dialog and characters that are less than one-dimensional. The plot is predictable and clichéd, to the point of being hackneyed. I really do not have anything positive to say about this one.

"The Prize" by C. H. Sherman is another very short tale. Scott, a little boy, finds a giant, creepy-looking slug, and resolves to capture it in hopes for fame and fortune. Scott notices a strange-looking cat who’s angling for the same slug, and viciously beats it up. The cat, reeling from a kick, tumbles close to the slug, and the slug kills it. Scott, appalled, kills the slug.

It’s a very short story, with not much space for character development, but still I question the choice of the protagonist whose first action is beating up a cat. Towards the end, I was sort of hoping that the giant slug would kill and eat the little boy, but that didn’t happen. Even Scott’s remorse fails to redeem him. I didn’t like this story.

"Monopoly" by Greg Beatty is another flash piece. Two boys are playing Monopoly. One of the boys does not like losing—he only lost once, to his sister. Again, the story is too short, and the revelation in the end fails to shock since there was simply not enough space for any dramatic build-up.

This issue contains mostly very short pieces, most of which I found unsatisfying. The first story was the only one that I would consider worthwhile. The non-fiction features were quite enjoyable.