Monday, April 23, 2012

Ravenous Dusk, by Cody Goodfellow

Perilous Press, 2002
580 pp
trade paper ed.

"The world is insane, and there aren't enough bombs or bullets to fix it." 

Having just finished Radiant Dawn, I couldn't just stay hanging on that precipice of a cliffhanger -- there was just too much at stake to leave it for another time.  And whereas in Radiant Dawn I noted Goodfellow's few nods to Lovecraft,  here the Lovecraftian scene explodes -- in and around the government conspiracies, the clandestine organizations within other clandestine organizations, and  military action  (including a legendary, truly badass  group of soldiers called Spike Team Texas whose very name freaks the most hardened of regular army people), lie those who've been waiting "sleeping, since before the earth as men knew it came to be." For these beings, humans are of no consequence in the larger scheme of things; they're simply accidents of evolution and mutation who took over in the absence of the Old Ones.   Everything human beings have inscribed upon their world down through the millenia turns out to have been  illusory -- the truth is something so frightening it has led many who've glimpsed only shadows of it  to madness.  Here, in both Radiant Dawn and Ravenous Dusk, that madness takes several forms, but   Lovecraft would be so happy with Cody Goodfellow if he could only read these books.

As in Radiant Dawn, Ravenous Dusk continues the story of the three main characters, who have emerged transformed from events in Radiant Dawn -- Stella Orozco, FBI Special Agent Cundieffe, and Ezekiel Zane Storch.  This time around, however, the action is stepped up  -- the conspiracies multiply, all hell breaks loose all around the globe, the secret war escalates,  and the very future of humanity hangs in the balance, based on events chronicled by Lovecraft in his  At the Mountains of Madness.   The past eons have finally caught up to  our current world, and how the three characters fit in to all of the ensuing insanity is at the heart of this novel. 

Like its predecessor, Ravenous Dusk is a mix of sci-fi, horror, political conspiracy thriller, and military action; here it's all packed together in a Lovecraftian frame.   There are some awesome moments in this book -- for example,  in the installation at Mount Weather, Virginia, where Cundieffe reckons that
"some genius back in the Fifities must have reasoned that men, pushed to the brink of a nuclear exchange, would be kept from losing their heads at a critical reminder of all that was quaint and corny small-town America"
and where a group awaiting the worst makes plans to become the leader of the coming New World Order;  there's also a white-supremacy cult in the mountains of Idaho who new neighbors just happen to be the relocated and reinvented Radiant Dawn hospice center.  While much of the action in the story is way over the top, it's still so much fun that setting the book aside is impossible.   And considering what's going on in this book, the ending is a surprise,  but at the same time it totally fits.

Really, the only negative thing I have to say is that at some points the book is sometimes  overly wordy, depending on a lot of conversation or discoveries to fill in the multiple backstories of events and people in the novel.  I'd also say that it might be a good thing to have even some familiarity with Lovecraft's work; if nothing else, at least At the Mountains of Madness; if you run into a word like "shoggoth," for example, you'd at least be familiar with the term; otherwise, if you're not already a Lovecraft reader, you might be a bit lost.  But together, Radiant Dawn and Ravenous Dusk comprise something very different than the usual post-Lovecraft Mythos fare I've read, and Goodfellow's imagination has run crazy wild in a good way.   Personally, I don't get why people settle for the twee stuff like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Twilight when there are worlds upon worlds of coolness to be found in books like Goodfellow's; now I'm wondering who else I've missed that taps into this kind of bizarro but incredibly awesome wavelength.

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