Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Eye of Infinity Reviewed on Horrorscope

The Eye of Infinity has just been reviewed by Shane Jiraiya Cummings on, the first review for my new Major Harrison Peel release, which should be back from the printers any day now:

The Eye of Infinity is a standalone novella and the latest in a series of Cthulhu Mythos-style adventures featuring protagonist Major Harrison Peel. In the novella, Peel has retired from the Australian armed forces (following the catastrophic events in The Spiraling Worm) and now works as a consultant for the USA's National Security Agency (NSA). He struggles to balance his home life with long-term girlfriend Nicola and his duties as a 'spook' on the frontline protecting mankind from alien incursions.

But The Eye of Infinity is no Men in Black pastiche, with cute aliens to befriend and singular enemies to defeat. David Conyers dredges up all the dark creations of cosmic dread spawned from H. P. Lovecraft's imagination and gives them a modern twist. Men and women like Harrison, Nicola, and NSA agent Jack Dixon fight the almost futile fight to keep shoggoths and star spawn from our door, and unfortunately for them, their victories are always Pyrrhic.

Central to The Eye of Infinity is the concept of subjective reality. Can we believe what we see in the deep, dark reaches of space? To a less indoctrinated mind, the vast expanse of stars and galaxies could be celestial dragons or roiling, living chaos. In the multi-dimensional adventure of The Eye of Infinity, this is exactly how reality is portrayed. Knowing that reality hinges on the fragility of the human mind - and that the horrors experienced by protagonist Harrison Peel could be wrought by his own mind - is a terrifying concept. What if malevolent alien wills were shaping the human race into their own dark image ... and we were convinced this was in our best interest? This is the question posed by Conyers - and it is a compelling one.

David Conyers has grappled with the true, terrifying nature of evil in his previous Mythos stories - most notably, The Spiraling Worm, his collaboration with John Sunseri - but in The Eye of Infinity, he has succeeded in showing the reader just how insignificant humanity is in the grand scheme of the universe. At the same time, Conyers' hero Harrison Peel has to contend with rogue elements in his own (adopted) government, which when contrasted with the scale of the forces threatening to engulf humanity, highlights the petty nature of humanity.

Conyers' interpretation of the Outer God Azathoth is revolutionary. In keeping with Lovecraftian tradition, Conyers manages to evoke cosmic horror on a grand scale, and yet, he simultaneously applies scientific principles by describing the god in terms of quantum physics as a force above and beyond nature.

While not the rollicking adventure of The Spiraling Worm, The Eye of Infinity is a well-crafted tale of espionage and counter-terrorism (of the alien, reality-warping kind) that is permeated by a sense of loneliness. Peel struggles against the threat of unimaginable forces, and he can't even open up to his girlfriend or accept the happiness of a mundane life.

Although the relationship between Peel and Nicola is critical to the story and Peel's motivations, the dialogue and emotions expressed felt stilted in places. While Conyers excels at making impossible dread possible, he needs to flex his authorial muscles more when it comes to romance and the nuances of relationships. Much of the interaction was good, but there were a few discordant notes in the dialogue and characters' actions that portrayed them as somewhat wooden.

However, the sense of loneliness came through strongest when Peel was travelling the cyclopean wastes of other worlds. It was fantastic to see the development of Harrison Peel's human side. Over the course of The Spiraling Worm, Conyers gave Peel a compelling character arc from naive but tough military man to a dying martyr filled with regret. Miraculously cured of his fatal disease at the end of The Spiraling Worm, Peel has become a more three dimensional character in The Eye of Infinity. Peel's inner struggles with his life's direction, his doubts, and more importantly, his fears (based on previous near-death experiences with shoggoths and other creatures) are the threads upon which the plot hangs, and as such, Conyers has moved beyond Lovecraftian tropes to ascend to the highest - and most captivating - form of storytelling: creating a character that the reader will genuinely care about.

The other downside, perhaps because of the use of recurring characters: much of the protagonist's backstory is filled in with chunks of exposition. While necessary in parts, this bogged the story's pace down somewhat.

Niggles aside, The Eye of Infinity is the epitome of modern Cthulhu Mythos fiction: tough, probing characters facing unfathomable beings and making impossible decisions. It's round two in the biggest fight we'll ever face - humanity vs. cosmic horror - and this time, no one is going to escape unscathed. David Conyers is the reigning king of the Cthulhu Mythos Down Under. With Conyers at the helm, you won't be disappointed by your journey.

This review was originally published here.

I've also included a reading list of Harrison Peel stoires in chronological story order, and where each story can be most easily found. Hopefully, there will be a second collection that captures these tales (fom "The Eye of Infinity" onwards):
  • "Made of Meat" by David Conyers (The Spiraling Worm, Chaosium Inc. 2007)
  • "To What Green Altar" by John Sunseri (The Spiraling Worm)
  • "Impossible Object" by David Conyers (The Spiraling Worm)
  • "False Containment" by David Conyers (Horrors Beyond, Elder Signs Press, 2005 and The Spiraling Worm)
  • "Resurgence" by John Sunseri (The Spiraling Worm)
  • "Weapon Grade" by David Conyers (The Spiraling Worm)
  • "The Spiraling Worm" by David Conyers & John Sunseri (The Spiraling Worm)
  • "The Eye of Infinity" by David Conyers (The Eye of Infinity, Perilous Press, 2011)
  • "Not What One Does" by John Sunseri and C.J. Henderson (Lai Wan: The Dreamwalker, Mythos Books, 2007)
  • "Stomach Acid" by David Conyers and Brian M. Sammons (Cthulhu Unbound 3, Permuted Press, 2008)
  • "The Masked Messenger" by David Conyers and John Goodrich (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 52, forthcoming)
  • "The R'lyeh Singularity" by David Conyers and Brian M. Sammons (Cthulhu Unbound 3, Permuted Press, forthcoming)
I'm working on several more Harrison Peel tales, which will fill in many of the gaps between "The Spiraling Worm" and "The R'lyeh Singularity".

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Cthulhu Unbound 3 - The Authors, The Stories

News is out there about Cthulhu Unbound 3, to be published by Permuted Press. I thought I'd confirm a few things about the book, but not much, because there is no official release info about the book yet, or when it will be published. Anyway, here are the authors and their stories:
Four novellas edited by myself and Brian M Sammons. The last story is a Harrison Peel tale (aka The Spiraling Worm and The Eye of Infinity).