“The Horror of the Many Faces” — Tim Lebbon

Tim Lebbon’s latest novel is Bar None, a novel of “chilling suspense, apocalyptic beauty and fine ales.” Other recent work includes The Island, and forthcoming is an original 30 Days of Night novel, which is due out early next year, as is Tell My Sorrows to the Stones, a collaboration with Christopher Golden. Lebbon is a New York Times bestselling author, and the winner of the Stoker Award, and three British Fantasy Awards.

Our next tale is the first of three in this volume to come to us from Shadows Over Baker Street, a book of stories that blend the world of Sherlock Holmes with the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft was perhaps the most influential horror writer of the twentieth century. He was a scholar of weird fiction, having written a pioneering survey called Supernatural Horror in Literature, and his own groundbreaking fiction appeared mostly in the pulp magazine Weird Tales. For centuries horror stories had been bound up with notions of eternal damnation, and Lovecraft, a committed philosophical materialist, felt that such notions had become hokey and shopworn. Edwin Hubble’s startling discovery that our galaxy was just one of billions had inspired Lovecraft to write a new kind of horror story—tales set in a vast, incomprehensible universe, where human beings were tiny and insignificant, and in danger at any moment of being snuffed out by vast, uncaring forces. Holmes says, “When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Lovecraft felt that the truth would drive us to insanity. Where these two worldviews collide, our next story begins.