Posts Tagged 'Achtung! Cthulhu'

With the passing of remembrance Sunday here in the UK, and welcome arrival of Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime, it seems like an opportune time to have a quick, and wry, Sci-Fi rummage through the alternative histories of the Third Reich.

As advocated by Spike Milligan, the best antidote to fascism – and the insanity of war for that matter – is pastiche and comedy. Such was the motivation behind Norman Spinrad’s 1972 Nebular Award winning novel, the Iron Dream. In this we find Hitler as an immigrant to America who has become successful through writing low-brow, right-wing science fiction.

If, however, you’d prefer the serious approach then there’s Robert Harris’ Fatherland (1992). In this a Nazi World War 2 victory acts as the backdrop for a party investigator uncovering the ‘hidden’ history of the Holocaust.

On a personal, and literary level, Achtung! Cthulhu offers a weird and wonderful hybrid between H.P. Lovecraft’s horror mythos and the allied and axis conflicts of WW2. A complex and fertile backdrop to write against and, with the advent of the Dark Tales compilation launching at this year’s Dragon Meet, an opportunity to play a part in this creative heritage.

Finally, we return to the ridiculous and a shift to film and game interpretations. While the former only really offers the Time Out segment from Twilight Zone the Movie, the risible Iron Sky, Hell Boy and maybe – at a stretch – Kung Fury, the latter is chock full of Hitler’s minions. Games remain the perfect medium for alternative histories involving the use of mecha instead of tanks, a plethora of Nazi zombies and, of course, Wolfenstein.

The bigger questions behind all of this, though, is whether it’s okay to use WW2 as such a creative well-spring. Hollywood continued to make war movies throughout the 1950s and hundreds of novelists have researched and written in this milieu before. Perhaps, due to the lack of appreciation of Sci-Fi, there’s an inherent fear that we may be belittling all of the atrocities, all of the loss of life. For me personally, I return to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter House 5, and realise that he made the apposite choice of turning his war memoir into a story about time travel.

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Achtung Cthulhu

News just in over the teleprinter! Modiphius – the creators of the role-playing game Achtung! Cthulhu – are releasing their first anthology of short stories based within their World War 2/Dieselpunk take Lovecraft’s mythos. Why is this relevant to readers of Drozbot, I hear you chant at your collective monitors? Well, investigate the press release here and find me among the contributing writers.

Weirdly, tentacled intrusions from other dimensions are de rigueur at the moment with news of a variation on the Bitcoin virtual currency being themed around The Great Old One and its ilk. Participants are encouraged to trade through a series of ‘rituals’, ‘blessings and ‘offerings’, but the current minuscule value per unit indicates this will never amount to more than a stack of funny money. How things have progressed since the days when I’d send off postal orders to receive Dagon fanzine through my letterbox.

Aside from digital advances in cash, the world of video games also has a fresh structure in construction on the foundations of the mythos. Although Lovecraftian tropes can be found throughout the survival horror genre, Cthulhu games are scare – consider Bethesda’s Dark Corners of the Earth and Cthulhu Saves the World and… Well, that’s it. Isn’t it?

It’s tempting to include Wolfenstein: The New Order here, simply because it’s another WW2 alt history, but the new title from Frogwares is a much better fit. Previously engaged with Conan Doyle’s super sleuth, the development team are bringing their experience of generating – for want of a better term – ‘period drama’ to the imaginatively named Call of Cthulhu on PlayStation 4.

All of which just goes to prove that this most pervasive of horror sub-genres – with the possible exception of vampirism – still has plenty of life left in its scaled, twitching and otherworldly corpse.

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