Recommend Reading: Pete Rawlik

Of all the Lovecraftian authors whose work I've read, by far the one who has resonated the most with me has been Pete Rawlik.  Why?  It's a combination of things.

He's character-oriented.  Many so-called Lovecraftians merely delve into themes implied in HP Lovecraft's stories, so you're going to get glancing references to earlier stories or, at best, something with tentacles.  By contrast, Rawlik unambiguously features the people, places, and things Lovecraft wrote about.  In other words, he deals with the proper nouns, not just the adjectives.  You're going to visit with characters you remember from favorite tales (or sometimes even some of the less-popular ones), only they're going to be better-utilized this time around.  After all, Lovecraft's work wasn't especially character-driven.  He neglected dialog or any sort of development in the characters (other than to drive them mad by the last page).  Virtually everything in the stories was plotting.  That's part of the lure of Lovecraft, but his stories left a lot to be desired in other respects (e.g., establishing a scene).  Rawlik's stories tend to be built around specific characters.  We get to know them and they get to know one another.

He knows how to fill in the blanks and extend outward.  In other words, Rawlik is equally adept at developing backstories for established characters as he is at imagining new tales for characters he has largely invented from only passing references in the source material.  Again, this touches on the character-centered nature of his work.  It makes his stories read much like a comic book, and I don't mean that in a perjorative sense.  Rawlik's stories are built on the characters rather than settings and scenarios, much as can be said of most superhero tales.  Indeed, he freely admits that The Weird Company came into being as a Lovecraftian version of Alan Moore's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen."

He's universe-building.  Well, Pete describes it as "building a brand," but he is much better than Lovecraft at working material into a believably interconnected world.  Sure, that involves characters encountering one another, but he also revisits them throughout their respective histories so that they are more fleshed out than whatever that one tale can contain.  And it's not just characters; he's good at tying together threads.  For example, the first chapter of The Weird Company brilliantly reveals that the Elder Things from "At the Mountains of Madness" are kept alive for millenia by a similar concoction (albeit naturally occuring) as the formulation developed by Herbert West.  It's the little details that make you pay attention to the stitching of this amazing patchwork quilt with no boundaries.

A glance through Rawlik's work unfortunately leaves the impression that he is obsessed with "Herbert West - Reanimator" since two of his novels (plus another volume he co-edited) are built around elements of that story.  However, he is far from a one-note writer, and I'd especially like to get that across as I recommend reading him.  Even the two novels in question are not excessively about the Reanimator theme; it's just the core of much more expansive and varied story-telling that traverses much of the Lovecraft universe.  And, for the record, Pete once acknowledged that "Reanimator" wasn't even his favorite HPL story (On at least one occasion he said "From Beyond" was).

As of this writing, his third novel is about to come out, though he has been an astoundingly prolific short story writer and has also acted as co-editor of a signature compilation (Legacy of the Reanimator) as well as some other projects.  This page attempts to compile a list of his works to date.

Reanimators - As a novel, the individual chapters often read as their own short stories.  That's not a criticism though because they're absolutely brilliant.  For example, at one point the protagonist encounters a relatively young Dr. Muñoz, the focal character of Lovecraft's "Cool Air," and we learn the origins of his condition which were untold in his original (but chronologically later) appearance.  The whole book is a series of such encounters.  Maybe the overall plot gets neglected, but there are so many separate adventures with favorite Lovecraft characters (and places) that it's too enjoyable to be overly concerned about.

The Weird Company - As I mentioned above, this is a sort of "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" for Lovecraft characters, plus a few other stories thrown in.  Admittedly, I think those extra stories were shoe-horned in to boost the word count, and the novel would have been better-served to have excluded them.  (I read them as unrelated bonus material, as most didn't contribute anything meaningful to the main story.  The epilogue in particular had nothing to do with the larger story and so made for a very poor conclusion.)  I definitely prefered Reanimators to this one, but the collection of characters and many of the ideas presented were certainly entertaining.

Reanimatrix - Due October 2016.  Haven't read this one since it isn't out as yet.

The Peasley Papers - Due in 2017.  A collection of stories about the Peasley family all across time.  About half the book are previously published stories; the other half are new works.

Legacy of the Reanimator - Rawlik served as co-editor of this volume collecting works related to "Herbert West - Reanimator."  Minor disappointment: He doesn't include any of his own fiction in this collection.  I haven't read it yet, but the reviews on Amazon are all good.  There's talk of a second such collection.

The Chromatic Court: Tales of the Lovecraftian Arts - At present (early 2017) Pete has put out a call for submissions for this volume.

The Lurking Chronology: A Timeline of the Derleth Mythos - I haven't been interested in this since I'm not a fan of what little of August Derleth's work I've read, but this book seems like an interesting project.  It's only 40 pages or so.

The King Forsakes His Throne: Campbellian Hero Icons in Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' (essay, 2007) - The Neil Gaiman Reader

Afterword (2015) essay in The King in Yellow Tales, Volume I

Introduction - Dark Tales from Elder Regions: New York by Anthony Burdge (2014)
Introduction - These Black Winged Ones by W. H. Pugmire (2014) Chapbook

 Also, quite a few reviews of others' work.

Short stories

The biggest difficulty in keeping up with Rawlik is that his work is scattered across many dozens of anthologies.  My hope is that someday the majority of these will be compiled into author-specific collections.  Rawlik alluded to this in an interview in 2015, that he expected collections of stories by subject matter or the character(s)/source material that are featured and/or inspired them.  For example, in another interview he discussed the prospect of a collection tentatively called "The Peaslee Papers" which would bring together some of these stories with newer material written specifically for the book.  Projects like that can't come soon enough since it would otherwise cost many hundreds of dollars to bring all his work together piecemeal.  As it stands now, I only have a few of these collections because I tend to read the entire volume, not just Pete's story in each, so that's quite a lot of reading!

I've noted a couple stories below with "(Scorpion)" to indicate that there are audio versions available via Morgan Scorpion on YouTube.  Not only those two, but a few other of his stories appear as well.  If you want to ease into his work, these are free (and authorized by Pete) by this prolific semi-amateur audiobook reader, along with many other weird fiction tales.  Visit Morgan Scorpion's channel here:

I want to add that I've noticed that Rawlik's name always stands out in reviews of anthologies, showing just how his stories rise above the rest of the pack.  And they really do stand apart in terms of quality and especially originality!  Case in point: "Eldritch Chrome" is a fun collection of Lovecraftian stories with a futuristic angle.  Most of them are at least enjoyable even if the setting or themes aren't especially original.  But in the midst of entirely too many Blade Runner-influenced or cyberpunk tales, Rawlik's "Battle of Arkham" comes in with a sweeping collection of elements from at least a dozen HPL stories.  It's thrilling and leaves you wanting more.

The follow is an incomplete list of his short stories.  A few of these have appeared in more than one anthology, and several have been incorporated into his novels.
On the Far Side of the Apocalypse (1997) in Talebones #7

A History of the Miskatonic Valley (2000) in Crypt of Cthulhu #104

The Masquerade in Exile (2010) in Tales of the Shadowmen 7: Femmes Fatales (Also appears in Reanimators)

Here Be Monsters (2011) in Dead But Dreaming 2

In the Hall of the Yellow King (2011) in Future Lovecraft

Before the War, Five Dragons Roar (2011) in Agents Provocateurs (and The Mark of Madame Atomos)

All of the Other Reindeer (2011) in Morpheus Tales Christmas Horror Special 2011

Professor Peaslee Plays Paris (2012) in Tales of the Shadowmen 9: La Vie en Noir

A Man of Letters (2012) in Innsmouth Magazine, February 2012 (ebook)

The Statement of Frank Elwood (2012) in Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities (and Worlds of Cthulhu)  (Also appears in The Weird Company)

The Journal of Thomas Gedney (2012) in Worlds of Cthulhu and... (below)  (Also appears in The Weird Company)

Revenge of the Reanimator (2013) in Tales of the Shadowmen 10: Esprit de Corps

The Innsmouth Revelation (2013) in Fungi #21, Summer 2013

North of the Arctic Circle (2013) in Undead & Unbound: Unexpected Tales from Beyond the Grave

Villains by Necessity (2013) in Tales of Jack the Ripper

Memories of the Night (2013) in Cthulhu Mythos Writers Sampler 2013

The Battle of Arkham (2013) in Eldritch Chrome: Unquiet Tales of a Mythos-Haunted Future (Scorpion)

The Innsmouth Revelation (2013) in Fungi Sum 2013

Operation Starfish (2014) in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters

The Strange Company (2014) in Steampunk Cthulhu

Cold War, Yellow Fever (2014) in World War Cthulhu: A Collection of Lovecraftian War Stories

The Ylourgne Accord (2014) in Tales of the Shadowmen 11: Force Majeure

The Annotation of James Ingraham Host (2014) in Ravenwood Quarterly #1

Drake Takes a Hand (2014) in Edge of Sundown

The Sepia Prints (2014) in In the Court of the Yellow King  (Also appears in Re-Animatrix)

The Qanoon-e-Islam (2014) in The Starry Wisdom Library

Changing of the Guard (2014) in The Dark Rites of Cthulhu

On the Far Side of the Apocalypse (2014) in Neverland's Library: Fantasy Anthology

Professor Peaslee’s Pandemonium (2014) in Terror Tales #3 2014

The Lost Lapstone of Cobbler Keezar (2015) in Snowbound with Zombies: Tales of the Supernatural Inspired by the Life and Works of John Greenleaf Whittier

Things Change (2015) in Flesh Like Smoke

Looking for Joey Shoggoth (2015) in Techno-Goth Cthulhu

The Statement of Orson Fletcher (2015) The Doom that Came to Providence

Arkham Arts Review: Alienation (2015) in Fossil Lake: An Anthology of the Aberrant

The Last Communion of Allyn Hill (2015) in Horror for the Holidays (Also appears in The Weird Company)

Memories of the Fall (2015) in Autumn Cthulhu

Annabelle and the Bitch, a Bedtime Story (2015) in Allen K's Inhuman Magazine, #6 Spring 2015

The Things She Left Behind (2015) in Allen K's Inhuman Magazine, #6 Spring 2015

Down Through Black Abysses (2015) in A Lonely and Curious Country: Tales from the Lands of Lovecraft

Beneath the Mountains of Madness (2015) in Beyond the Mountains of Madness (Also appears in The Weird Company)

The Pestilence of Pandora Peaslee (2015) in Apotheosis: Stories of Human Survival After The Rise of The Elder Gods (Scorpion)

Operation Switch (2015) in Atomic-Age Cthulhu: Tales of Mythos Horror in the 1950s

The Orthometrists Of Vhoorl (2015) in A Mythos Grimmly

The Violation of Anne Newman (2015) in Cthulhu Detective: A C.J. Henderson Tribute Anthology

Notes on Wilcox (2016) in Cthulhu Lies Dreaming

The Posthumous Recruitment of Timothy Horne (2016) in Tomorrow's Cthulhu: Stories at the Dawn of Posthumanity

Deanimator (2016) in Mythos Darkly

Time Devours All (2016) in Tales of Cthulhu Invictus: Nine Stories of Battling the Cthulhu Mythos in Ancient Rome

Time Flies (2016) in Return of the Old Ones: Apocalyptic Lovecraftian Horror

The Collection of Gibson Flynn (2016) in The Children of Gla'aki: A Tribute to Ramsey Campbell's Great Old One

The Guilt of Nikki Cotton (2016) in Heroes of Red Hook

With the Storm (2016) in Dread Shadows in Paradise

Gumdrop Apocalypse (2017) in Twice Upon An Apocalypse: Lovecraftian Fairy Tales

Retirement Plan (2017) in Haunted Futures

Unknown story (2017) in Skelos Magazine #3
Unknown story (2017) in Skelos Magazine #4
Unknown story (2017) in Skelos Magazine #5

??? (2017) in A Walk on the Weird Side - NecronomiCon 2017 Anthology

The Eye of Cybele
(2018?) in Further Tales From Cthulhu Invictus

Hallward Restorations (2018?) in ???

Additionally, some very short stories (as well as essays and reviews) by Pete Rawlik have appeared in the Lovecraft eZine.  What I've found are listed below, and you can search for anything tagged with his name via this link:
The Arkham Terror (Actually the first chapter of Reanimators)

A Sense of Time

The First Act

The Time Travelers’ Ex-Wife (with Mandy Rawlik)

The Thing in the Depths (Also appears in The Weird Company)

Pickman’s Marble (with Mandy Rawlik)

The Spaces Between

The Eldritch Force – A Cthulhu Mythos Round Robin (with several others, obviously)

Defining Lovecraftian Horror (essay)
If you know of some other stories I've missed or need to be added (because I'm bad about updating pages unless someone nudges me), please email me.


Lots of places to keep up with Pete and his work...
Facebook - Even though it's his personal page, this is probably the central location for updates on his work, plus he's funny and seems to always be sharing Lovecraftian news (e.g., new books by others).  I don't do Farcebook, so I don't check this frequently:

Amazon - Author's page.

Goodreads - It's very incomplete, but there are reviews and sometimes a little extra information than Amazon might have on a given volume.

He regularly appears in Mike Davis' chats for the Lovecraft eZine on YouTube.   And like I said above, he contributes short stories, reviews, and essays to the Lovecraft eZine (see link in the short story section above).

Additionally, there are some other interviews on YouTube and elsewhere around the web, but I'll leave you to search those out rather than providing stale news and potentially outdated links.


Copyright 2016, 2017 the Ale[x]orcist.