Monday, March 28, 2016

In the Moons of Borea review


    Brian Lumley's Titus Crow series are a series from the 1970s which follow the adventure of a trio of Pulp adventurers (Titus Crow, Henri de Marginy, and Hank Silberhutte) as they deal with the Cthulhu Mythos. I've reviewed the majority of the series before this entry and found them both enjoyable as well as frustrating. Part of this is due to Brian Lumley's desire to humiliate the Great Old Ones and undercut cosmic horror with human ingenuity every chance he gets. Lumley's heroes put the Ghostbusters to shame in cosmic horror bashing.

    The books are different from most pastiches of H.P. Lovecraft's work as present the Great Old Ones as dastardly schemers than cosmic forces of nature while being more about the heroism of the protagonists than the insignificance of mankind. Despite this, the attention to detail regarding continuity as well as world-building is amazing. The books may be silly at times but are quite entertaining and great examples of fun not-too-serious science-fiction. The stories attest the Cthulhu Cycle is a collection of alien deities which were banished by the Elder Gods millennium ago but who have been stirring in recent years. Very similar to the interpretation of the Mythos forwarded by August Derleth when he rewrote the books to fit his own Christian beliefs (and helped popularize them).

    In previous books, Titus Crow successfully defeated an invasion of Cthonian worms and escaped a trap set for him in the Dreamlands as well as discovered the Elder Gods' homeworld of Elysia. Henri de Marginy acquired Randolph Carter's Time Clock which, essentially, functions like the TARDIS and helped said individual become a wandering space hero. Finally, Hank Silberhutte married the half-human princess of a displaced tribe of humans and helped thwart the machinations of the Great Old One Ithaqua.

    In the Moons of Borea's premise is an attempt to do an old fashioned Pulp adventure tale teaming up Henri de Marginy and Hank Silberhutte on a quest to recover the lost Time Clock. It's very much in the fashion of the Doctor Who serials of the time, only with no budget limitations. Henri lands on the planet quite by accident (or drawn there by the Elder Gods) but has his Time Clock stolen by the forces of Ithaqua who take it to one of Borea's two moons. Visiting the moons via a magic tornado, they discover the beautiful Moreen who possesses Snow White-esque powers to talk to animals. Dealing with the local Vikings, they try to prevent an invasion of Borea and end up facing not a group of ancient primeval wizards and Ithaqua himself.

    As the plot description attests, this isn't exactly the most traditional science fiction novel. It is full of off-kilter and weird elements purely for the sake of being cool. Our heroes also never really feel endangered because they routinely laugh at the Great Old Ones and run rings around their minions, which removes any feeling of danger which might otherwise be present. Indeed, the aura of invincibility our heroes possess is the biggest problem in the narrative as nothing seems able to stop them for any length of time.

    New character Moreen is a character I can either take or leave. Adding a character reminiscent of Disney's Princesses into the middle of a Pulpy Lovecraftian adventure is so weird and dissonant, it's almost awesome. On the other hand, the insistance of making sure every hero is paired off in heterosexual relationships with women who are innocent as well as beautiful is a bit annoying. I understand it's the Seventies but Armandra really is the only one of the three I think has a well-developed personality.

    In conclusion, In the Moons of Borea is an entertaining Pulp adventure in the vein of the previous entries to the series. It can be read without the other volumes but is enriched by their presence. Those searching for tales of cosmic horror and man overwhelmed by the universe should look elsewhere, though.

8/10

Also in the Titus Crow series and reviewed by the United Federation of Charles:

The Burrowers Beneath 
The Transition of Titus Crow 
The Clock of Dreams
In the Moons of Borea
Spawn of the Winds
Elysia

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