GigaNotoSaurus short story joins the conversation with a work that crafts an alternate history where the Old Ones rose in the early 1900s and have been in power ever since. That doesn’t mean there aren’t humans left, though, and in the warped reality that Dublin has become, one human finds themself facing a string of dangers and conflicts when a chance to earn a lot of coins drops into their lap. Unfortunately, though, that opportunity comes with the promise of adventure of the eldritch sort, and ends up pitting the narrator against friends, lovers, and the maybe even a death cult or two. So yeah, let’s get to the review!
“Devoured Stars Over Dublin” by Méabh de Brún (7315 words)
No Spoilers: Reg has a line on a way to clear their debt. A rarity in a Dublin that has known the rule of the Old Ones for a hundred years. Because a human, a “normie,” has just fallen through one of the tears in reality and Reg can make a huge profit off an untainted, completely “sane” human. If they can keep her away from the Old Ones, who don’t care a thing about payment. And as long as they can come up with the money to buy her off the person who found her. Which is where things get...complicated. The piece flows through a brash and slippery style that paints a world gone to horrors. Reg’s narration is rough and tumble, concerned about money and generally remaining blitzed enough to deal with the realities of their world, which aren’t pretty. Their relationships, their business, all have an edge to them, and yet they retain some surprises, and maybe even something deeper that’s trying to get from under the drugs and booze and general twisted mess all around (and inside) them.
Keywords: Eldritch Horrors, Lovecraftian, Gods, Bargains, Cults, Queer MC
Review: I like the take on Lovecraft here, imagining a world that has fallen, that is in many ways lost to the chaos and twisted logic of the Old Ones. And Reg is a lot of fun, a person who seems always to have an angle, who’s one step away from some big payoff that just never seems to materialize. And who might secretly be feeling the weight of the setting and the actions they’ve taken to survive. But that’s buried under the drug use and the armor of flippancy that they use to protect themself. Not that it ultimately does a lot of good, but people need coping mechanisms when they live surrounded by the kind of horror that this world is full of. Which makes for a somewhat surreal experience, because most of the time these cosmic horrors work because the ineffable elements are only even broached sideways, glanced, and even at a glance they are powerful enough to shake people’s sanity, their grip on reality. But here those sorts of things are more commonplace, more regular. There are bits of it all around, and great gods who want to make sure that not a shred of sanity remains in their domains. So the story has to go to some interesting lengths to convey just how weird this is, building things up so that it’s a web of blood and madness. It’s grim, reflected in the casual brutality that surrounds the characters, that wanders the streets. At any moment something might erupt in violence, a battle between monsters might crash its way through. Lives are cheap here, at least if they’re human--except for the “unspoiled” one. She’s expensive. But even so, Reg’s plan isn’t the easiest or most profitable one. It’s more difficult and more dangerous because they’re trying to do something...shows that the chaos around them isn’t quite enough to make them into an uncaring monster. They care, and they’re trying, and they’re willing to fight. Not that they want to. But they will. And that’s something that the world otherwise doesn’t seem to have. And it’s a mostly fun read for all of that, the tone conversational and moving quickly, the voice slick and smooth but hiding something raw and hopeful. And the ending shows that even in this situation, sometimes the “good guys” pull through. A great read!