RogerBW's Blog

The Elder Ice, David Hambling 17 September 2017

2014 Lovecraftian horror novella. In 1920s London, ex-boxer Harry Stubbs is working for a firm of lawyers that's looking for valuable assets to pay off some of Shackleton's creditors. But what did he really find on those polar expeditions?

This is period yog-sothothery done right. There's lots of historical detail about Shackleton's life and family; there's a slow build-up from slight weirdness, through mundane menace, to cosmic horror; the resolution matches my own feelings regarding major Lovecraftian beings, that they regard humans as at most a minor pest, most of the time not even worth thinking about.

The main problem is the choppiness of the pacing; the novella is broken into multiple short chapters, and each incident is over so quickly that it hardly has time to generate much in the way of thrill or menace.

Harry manages to be interesting in spite of being essentially a physical character; he's a tactician of boxing and applies those lessons elsewhere too. The ending is perhaps a bit of a let-down, but it's hard to end these things effectively other than with the death or madness of the protagonist and I give Hambling credit for a good try.

In short, highly recommended to any fan of Lovecraftiana and even some people who think they aren't. This cuts to the core of what Lovecraft was getting at, without the excessively purple prose and casual racism.

Followed by Broken Meats.

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  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 10:44am on 17 September 2017

    Fascinating review, so good I went an ordered a copy.

  2. Posted by David Hambing at 02:06pm on 20 September 2017

    So glad you liked it! Do let me know if you'd like a review copy of Broken Meats or Alien Stars - available as ebook, paperback and Audible talking book.

    Elder Ice was originally intended as a short story in a collection, so it's an awkward in-between length. So many people asked me what the protagonist did next that I devices to continue it as a series of more novel-length works, hopefully with better pacing.

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 02:23pm on 20 September 2017

    Many thanks - I'll look forward to the later books.

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