Friday, October 11, 2013

The Many Days of Horror - The Hive

Tim Curran may not be overly familiar to you, but that's mostly because he's been circulating in the small press and online fiction resources for most of his career, and it's a damn shame because his writing is bar none some of the goriest, moodiest and most evocative out there. I previously reviewed his work in Zombie Pulp, and it's time to talk about The Hive. This review focuses on the Kindle ebook edition, which includes a lot of additional material omitted from the print copy I read many years go.

We'll get the preamble out of the way: it's well written, its well-researched (as far as I know, not being an Antarctic researcher....worked for me!) and it's a direct sequel to Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. No small feat making a sequel to Lovecraft's greatest novella, but Curran does so, not only evoking the memory of the original but also drawing inspiration from a host of modern resources, not the least of which is Carpenter's The Thing. Don't worry, though; the derivations from The Thing are principally a matter of mood and suspense, along with a healthy dose of "last-name-itis" amongst the crew of Kharkov Station deep in Antarctica near the Medusa Ice Shelf. Sure....a shoggoth bears more than a passing resemblance to something Thing-like, but the shoggoths in Curran's version of the mythos are really damned freaky.

Curran's tale weaves between a myriad variety of characters stuck in Antarctica when one researcher and his crew stumble across evidence of subterranean ruins beneath the glacial ice, as well as actual mummified bodies of decidedly alien beings (the old ones, sometimes known as elder things to CoC fans). As things rapidly begin to unravel we are treated to a vast number of hideous and sometimes subtle ways that discovering these ruins and bodies can affect humanity, as the scientists come to grips with the chilling truth about what they are witnessing, and what it means for the ancient history of mankind and possibly all life on Earth. Meanwhile other scientists drilling down to a frozen lake beneath the glacial ice uncover evidence of live, active old ones...and a scientist who's discovered too much encountered a diary of an expedition that preceded even the mysterious lost expedition of the original novel, which serves as a lengthy interlude not in the original book.

The pacing is great, events exciting and believable, the cast of characters thick and filled with those both memorable, deceitful and otherwise problematic, the sorts of personalities that you don't want to be around when you begin to awaken the hive consciousness of alien beings who might have created humanity and all other entities as a byproduct of some other greater experiment.

If you like good horror, and especially if you like good mythos fiction that stands on its own merits, then you need to read The Hive. I'll be hitting the sequel soon!


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