Item description for Straight to Darkness (Lairs of the Hidden Gods) by Asamatsu Ken & Robert M. Price...
This well-received collection of original stories and articles inspired by the 'Cthulhu Mythos' created by H.P. Lovecraft was published in Japan in 2002 as a two-volume set under the name Hishinkai. The list of contributing authors is a who's-who of Japanese horror fiction, featuring some of the finest writers in Japan today, and reviews demonstrate that the Japanese taste for horror can send shivers up English-speaking spines as well! In cooperation with Tokyo Sogensha, the Japanese publishers, and the anthology editor, Mr. Asamatsu Ken, we are proud to present this third volume of the series, with a new selection of eerie masterpieces to delight and chill you. Each story is accompanied by a fascinating introduction by Robert M. Price, the recognized master of the Mythos. The cover is by Yamada Akihiro, who is already winning fans with his "four seasons" approach to the four books in this series. In addition to handling many of the covers for the Japanese-language editions of Lovecraft and other Mythos works, he has built up a loyal following in the States as well for his work.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5" Height: 8" Weight: 0.8 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 2006
Publisher Kurodahan Press
ISBN 490207513X ISBN13 9784902075137
Reviews - What do customers think about Straight to Darkness (Lairs of the Hidden Gods)?
More disappointing and disposable mythos Jun 29, 2008
The galling mistreatment of HPL's gift to horror continues unabated. I have yet, with the exception of the fine Chthulu 2000 collection, found an author or a compilation that does justice to the possibilities of the mythos. For all the outsize praise this series seems to receive, I'd had enough after the fourth or fifth story in this collection: unimaginative, rote, poorly written and with no shudders, no scares whatsoever. Perhaps the collection gets better, but I won't bother.
Mesmerizing Japanese mythos fiction Nov 20, 2006
Mythos fans everywhere should rejoice at the release of Straight to Darkness, the third volume in the landmark series of modern Lovecraftian fiction from Japan. This book shares all of the strengths of the previous two volumes. The cover art by Yamada Akihiro is phenomenally gorgeous, showing a demon statue concealed in autumnal woods...or is it a statue? I thought there was no way the painting gracing the cover of Inverted Kingdom could be bettered but I stand corrected. The book is POD and production qualities are good; there were no obvious editorial gaffes. Translations were seamless with no awkwardness coming between the reader and the story (unlike Inverted Kingdom where a few things fell jarringly on the ear (or eye)). Page count is about 330. This includes the introductions, cover sheets for the stories, individual story introductions, nonfiction essay and author and translator minbios, but still allowed a generous page number for each story. The introduction by Asamatsu Ken was just perfect at setting the mood. The introduction by Robert Price (yes, he's back, and no, he's not going away) was an amusing comparison of the Cthulhu mythos and the Godzilla mythos. I would avoid reading the individual introductions until you finish the actual story as they can contain spoilers. For the most part they were useful. The nonfiction essay was about the Cthulhu mythos in rock and roll, and was a very diverting read but didn't seem to have much to do with Japan. Price was $20, not discounted but available for free shipping on this site if you buy $25 worth of stuff. Here are the contents:
ASAMATSU Ken - Foreword: "Quivering Brainstems" translated by Edward LIPSETT TANAKA Hirofumi - "The Secret Memoir of the Missionary - Prologue" translated by Daniel DAY KIDA Jun'ichiro - "A Keepsake of Grandfather" translated by K. Bird LINCOLN SANO Shiro - "Horror Special" translated by Daniel DAY ARAMATA Hiroshi - "The Road" translated by Kathleen TAJI TAKEUCHI Yoshikazu - "She Flows" translated by Nora Stevens HEATH KOBAYASHI Yasumi - "C-City" translated by Kathleen TAJI TOMONO Sho - "Straight to Darkness" translated by Toshiya A. KAMEI SHIMOTSUKI Aoi - "Sounds Out of Space, or, Cthulhu Metal" translated by Jerome WOODS
***Spoilers may follow - you have been warned***
I found this book mesmerizing. Once I dipped into it I could not put it down and had to read it through a sleepless night. The writing was of uniform high quality. To be fair, however, there were no brilliant gems like Terror Rate or A Night at Yuan-su from Inverted Kingdom. On the other hand there were no stories like The Horror in the Kabuki Theater that rubbed me the wrong way.
Tanaka Hirofumi - "The Secret Memoir of the Missionary - Prologue" - For this story it would be worthwhile to read a brief history of the early introduction of Christianity into Japan. I, of course, did not need to do this because I had read Shogun (um, er...). This was a very inventive use of that time in history, using actual figures from the period, substituting the worship of a Great Old One for God, after the missionaries are waylaid and converted (as it were) en route to Japan. Tanaka san may write a sequel or continuation for us some time in the future and I can only hope we will ever see a translation of it.
Kida Jun'ichiro - "A Keepsake of Grandfather" - To best appreciate A Keepsake of Grandfather you have to reread Out of the Aeons by Hazel Heald (actually by HPL, ghost written for Hazel Heald (how come no famous authors want to ghost write some stories for me?)). This story is a worthy successor to Out of the Aeons and more or less carries on with the history of T'yog.
Sano Shiro - "Horror Special" - This is the story of a Japanese film company making a movie of The Dunwich Horror some years after their movie of The Shadow Over Innsmouth was clouded by mysterious goings on. The entire crew is reassembled including the unusual special effects guy. Although the mythos breathes throughout the production it is never clear if it is real or just a bunch of stories, which adds to the effectiveness. You can decide what really happened.
Aramata Hiroshi - "The Road" - This was clearly my favorite story in the book. A big HPL fan from Japan on a train ride from NYC to Boston takes a not so spontaneous detour into the streets of Providence to walk in the Old Gent's footsteps. It turns out he's more successful than he expected, and that time and space are more malleable than is comfortable.
Takeuchi Yoshikazu - "She Flows" - This story gives us a glimpse into a dialogue between two young people who have had very difficult childhoods. While I liked it I couldn't really place it in the mythos, unless you think alienation as a theme merits inclusion. Oh, well, I was happy to read it.
Kobayashi Yasumi - "C-City" - After The Road, this was my next favorite tale. The world is trying to prevent the rising of R'lyeh and has gathered its top scientists into a remote village to come up with the best means to deal with this threat. As might be expected, there is no consensus and the machinations of the Great Old Ones pervade even this bastion.
Tomono Sho - "Straight to Darkness" - Another winner! In the future it is a winner takes all battle for dominance of the planet among all the alien forms and races that have ever inhabited earth. Maybe the Great Race did not plan carefully enough...this one actually would make a good video game!
That's about it! I was completely captivated. I feel compelled to say that I got a free reviewer's copy from Kurodahan Press (only the second time this has ever happened to me), but that did not influence my opinion. I would have bought a copy anyway. Urgently recommended!