Monday, March 21, 2011
Used & Abused: The Color Out of Time
Michael Shea wrote one of my all-time favorite short stories, "The Autopsy." It's a smart, beautifully constructed, and frightening portrayal of alien invasion on an individual scale. He is also the author of perhaps my favorite Lovecraftian sequel, The Color Out of Time. This short novel, first published in 1984, is a continuation of Lovecraft's famous tale, "The Color Out of Space," which described the horrific effects of a meteor crash on a farm and the unleashing of a strange pervading alien intelligence. Shea's story brings the "creature down the well" into modern times. Set at a campground on the shores of a lake, above the flooded remains of the farm, the story's heroes are two retired professors and the artist sister of one of the camp's rangers. Shea brings the creeping terror with both hands. His prose is exquisite, conveying awestruck horror and gruesome violence equally well. I love this book and have reread it many times. I find an odd comfort in Lovecraft's universe of elder gods and mind-bending creatures from other dimensions. In many ways, Shea exceeds Lovecraft at his own game. Fans of horror/science fiction/fantasy will find plenty to enjoy here. "Vacationers in peril from monsters" is a horror genre cliche, but you've never read one like this. Pour yourself a whiskey, throw a log in the fireplace, and open this book. I highly recommend it.