NICK POLLOTTA AND JAMES CLAY
Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing (2007)
Reviewed by Leanne Tough
That Darn Squid God by Nick Polotta and James Clay (aka Phil Foglio of the Girl Genius webcomic) is a Lovecraftian parody, a rip-roaring romp through an alternative Victorian world filled to the brim with cultists, secret societies, and elegant ladies who can certainly handle their own. Professor Einstein (no, not that Einstein) has predicted that the end of the world is nigh. He is shocked that his associates do not realise the same. In a typically Lovecraftian beginning, he has delved too deep and knows too much–and thus made himself a target. With his chosen sidekick, Carstairs, an up-and-coming in their Gentleman’s Club, Einstein fights against time and forces unknown to save the world. Which makes it all sound terribly serious–but this book after all is a parody and as such thrives on the ability to surprise you and make you laugh. An example of this can be found on the front cover, if not in the title itself. The comical, cartoon-like Squid God towering over Big Ben with the tagline ‘It’s the end of the world. How bloody inconvenient’does not lend itself to your usual Cthulu-based novel. I think it’s the sardonic, stereotypically British language that makes me laugh the hardest.
The novel is well written, eminently readable and a lot of fun. Despite it being a parody of Lovecraft’s style and mythos, it by no means belittles it. I’d go so far as to say it is part of the tradition of writers on the Cthulu mythos since Lovecraft. The writers play with the mythos as much as any novelist writing a serious Lovecraftian novel. There are many recognisable elements, such as the cultists and the unknown fearsome powers, and of course the many-tentacled God himself. In some cases, it’s still just as creepy–even if the creepiness is almost immediately washed away with laughter. Saying this, you don’t have to have read Lovecraft’s work to enjoy this book–but I dare say it helps.
Personally, I think this book is brilliant and have already recommended it to my Lovecraft-loving friends. And due to this, I’m also looking forward to Polotta’s next novel, Solomon, which is out in November–which I’ve been promised leans heavily towards the Steampunk genre.
Further information may be found at the book’s website