REVIEW: “The Lost City of Leng” by Rudy Rucker and Paul Di Filippo

Review of Rudy Rucker and Paul Di Filippo, “The Lost City of Leng”, Asimov’s Science Fiction January/February (2018): 33-65 — Purchase Here. Reviewed by Kiera Lesley.

An adventurous sequel to At the Mountains of Madness. A journalist joins an eccentric group on an expedition to Antarctica to help the “cukes” face off against Shoggoths in exchange for loot and scientific knowledge.

I’m going to state this upfront – I didn’t particularly like this novella. I enjoy new Lovecraftian work, especially set in Antarctica and one thing Rucker and Di Filippo did really well in this piece was to capture the “Good ol’ boys” adventure tone. The crew and mission were fun, the description of the subterranean lake was evocative, and the Elder Gods’ activities and motivations were appropriately fascinating and unknowable to the protagonists.

However, I found the story problematic in some ways, particularly Vivi’s characterisation and Doug’s incessant sexualisation of her. I also had some problems with Doug’s motivations, the pacing through the middle, and the subplot introduced somewhat suddenly towards the end.

There may have been more mileage for people more well-versed in Lovecraft than me – there were lots of references, shout outs and tie-ins here. I’m also wondering if there was satire or humour that just didn’t come across for me in this piece.

Overall, this piece didn’t really resonate with me and I found this a bit lacking compared to some of the more progressive and innovative contemporary Lovecraft-inspired work.