After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard is the second book in the Carter & Lovecraft series, which brings the H. P. Lovecraft mythos into the 21st century.
A few months after the explosive events of Carter & Lovecraft, our heroes—former cop Dan Carter and H. P. Lovecraft descendent Emily Lovecraft—find themselves in the Unfolded World. It’s like ours. Kinda. Except, the Cold War never happened because the Germans obliterated Moscow with an atomic bomb in 1941.
The bookstore that Lovecraft and Carter co-own—called Carter & Lovecraft, of course—is thriving, especially with Miskatonic University right around the corner. But Carter and Lovecraft were understandably shell-shocked in the beginning.
“How can everyone be so cool with the Nazis?” Carter had asked. “What about the Holocaust? They can’t have been given a free pass for that, can they?”
For her answer, Lovecraft passed him an atlas and told him to look up Israel in the index. He did, and found it listed, which was a relief. But then he went to the page indicated, and found himself looking at a map of the southern half of the continent of Africa. In the corner was an inset of Madagascar; the north of the island down to the nineteenth parallel was labeled “Israel.”
He’d looked at Lovecraft, speechless.
In this world, the Nazis had enacted their plan to dump their Jews and other undesirables on Madagascar, now a German holding after the fall of France. It was a difficult transition for the refugees, but this Israel was much larger than the Middle Eastern version, and it was rich, verdant land. Policed by the Gestapo until 1955, it had been given full independence in return for favored trading partner status. In this world, the Jewish people might not have loved the Nazis, but nor did they hate them with much enthusiasm.
So, no Holocaust.
Though … there had been a holocaust, but it had been in the East, and the victims were Bolsheviks, Communists, and other degenerates the West couldn’t get excited about.
The weird thing was that Carter and Lovecraft had both known it. They had lived in the Folded World consciously, and the Unfolded World by association. They were people with two histories sitting one upon the other, and with a little shift of focus that became easier every time they practiced it, they could read this one or that.
As strange as their new reality is, though, they still have to make a living, and that means that Carter needs clients for his PI business. When Mr. Henry Weston—the lawyer that informed Carter of his inheritance of the bookstore—approaches him with an opportunity, he’s intrigued. He’s tasked with gathering intelligence (by a member of the Gestapo, no less) of a mysterious science experiment at Miskatonic U.
“Have you heard of ‘zero point energy,’ Mr. Carter?” Without waiting for an answer, he continued, “Allow me to explain. Classical physics predicts a state of no energy at absolute zero, which is to say, zero degrees Kelvin, or minus 273.15 degrees Celsius. Indeed, the very definition of absolute zero is this predicted temperature. But, it doesn’t actually work. Real matter doesn’t behave like an ideal gas. Even at zero, there is still entropy and enthalpy, because there is still energy there, even though there theoretically shouldn’t be. The famous example is helium. At absolute zero, everything should be a solid, yet helium is still a liquid. Something must be moving those atoms around. This is ‘zero point energy.’ ”
The implication of this kind of device is huge. All that free energy would be a boon, but in the wrong hands…
Carter smells a rat but needs the money. It just so happens that one of the security guards is on leave because of a mental breakdown, and not only will Carter be getting a fee for his snooping, he’ll be getting a salary by filling the security position. Seems like an easy job, but when strange things start happening in and around the lab, Carter worries that something sinister is at play.
Meanwhile, Lovecraft has discovered that fragments of the Necronomicon reside in the bookstore’s safe, and that reading it isn’t good for one’s sanity. However, Carter and Lovecraft are determined to get back to the Folded World, and the Necronomicon might hold the key—if she can hold onto her sanity.
When Carter is asked to provide security for a new iteration of the device after a heroic act at Miskatonic U, he asks Lovecraft to come along. Unfortunately, the posting is in the remote Aleutian Islands, and it’s gonna be a heck of a journey getting there. And the finale, well…
To tell you any more would give important things away, but I can promise it’s epic.
I loved Carter & Lovecraft, and I like this one even better. Jonathan L. Howard took the best of H. P. Lovecraft and stamped it with his own brand of weird, creating a strange and wondrous adventure with two very charming leads. Their friendship is one of equals, and it’s become one of trust. They have to trust one another, especially after being thrust into this crazy new reality.
You don’t have to be a Lovecraft fan to enjoy this one, and for those that like their mysteries with a healthy dash of horror and the very strange, you’ll want to get to know the fantastic Carter and Lovecraft.
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