Well… how time flies. It has been a little more than a year since I wrote one of these reviews. Amazingly I did not realize that until I just checked the date on Queens of the Mild. What have I been doing all this time, you may ask? The answer is simple and moderately depressing.
Nothing productive anyway but that is an issue that I can fix. Technically I have already started working on that. However you don’t care about my Twitch or Youtube channels but you do care about book reviews. So what am I going to be reviewing today?
The answer is Cthulhu Armageddon by C.T. Phipps. You may remember that I reviewed his Agent G: Infiltrator book or how I spent 3 reviews cursing his name and bloodline for suggesting John Ringo to me. And if it sounds like Charles and I are friends you’re right. We are. That does not earn him any leeway. For evidence see my review of Light Dawning and realize that Ty and I are also friends. I don’t pull punches.
So let’s get to that.
“CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON is the story of a world 100 years past the rise of the Old Ones which has been reduced to a giant monster-filled desert and pockets of human survivors (along with Deep Ones, ghouls, and other “talking” monsters).
John Henry Booth is a ranger of one of the largest remaining city-states when he’s exiled for his group’s massacre and suspicion he’s “tainted.” Escaping with a doctor who killed her husband, John travels across the Earth’s blasted alien ruins to seek the life of the man who killed his friends.
It’s the one thing he has left.”
That’s actually pretty accurate. It’s not the greatest synopsis of all time – I think that goes to Scott Oden’s A Gathering of Ravens – but it’s pretty solid. Gives you a very good idea of what you are getting into. It sounds like a pulp Lovecraftian western and that is exactly what you get.
That last part is very important. Phipps has a rare gift among basically anyone. He knows exactly where his talents lie. He can write witty, pulpy heroes and action and he owns it. There is no attempt to write like Lovecraft or many of the man’s so called heirs. His intent is to write a fun, escapist novel – and he succeeds. If you go in expecting Lovecraft’s more archaic style prose and that slow march to maddening realization then you have already fucked up because that is not what this is.
The characters are pulp characters. John Henry Booth is the Action Man/Gunslinger. The doctor serves both as support and damsel in distress – though she kicks her fair share of ass. You have tribesmen with their strange gods and mysticism. Dirty casinos in place of saloons. The bad guy is mad and evil.
This is not a story of introspection. It is not a long, slow journey. It is a rollercoaster full of action sequences, pithy banter, and Lovecraft Easter eggs. If you’ve ever wanted a book where humanity could fight back rather than simply go mad or die this has that. More or less.
My only really complaint would be that the ending feels rather abrupt. Like the whole last several chapters are zooming along at a 100 miles per hour and then it’s just done. It feels like there should be a little more there. So much happened in that final chapter or two that I feel like an epilogue would have helped it come to a more natural and less jarring end.
But overall? I had a lot of fun. It honestly felt less like a novel to me than it did a tabletop game of Call of Cthulhu because while people want Lovecraft’s stately (and often time super racist) stories when they sit down to roleplay in his settings I feel like this is a lot closer to what a lot of CoC games are actually like. And that’s not a bad thing. The real world sucks. Too much of the real world’s evils might as well be alien monstrosities for all we can do to fight them. Much like Cthulhu neither cancer or schizophrenia can be beaten with a gun but at least in our stories we can beat the monsters.
And in times like these that is an important thing to remember.