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HARRY STUBBS is back and fighting the Great Od Ones again! The adventures of a early 20th century London boxer and amateur detective remains one of my favorite Cthulhu spin-offs. It's a series of well-researched detective stories which are more interested in the occult secret societies, weird history of London, and cultists versus the actual supernatural weirdness so many other stories deal with. In simple terms, it's more The 9th Gate versus Friday the Thirteenth in how it compares to most stories.
ALIEN STARS opens with Harry having lost his job with legitimate firms and having been reduced to doing criminal work with a corrupt partner. They now serve as thieves and black marketeers who acquire antiques with occult significance then sell them to their patrons. It's a pretty big shift for the normally honest and forthright Harry so I found this change a bit jarring. This time, his latest job results in a death of a young woman who is involved in a conspiracy to deal with an unnatural plague that can destroy the world.
Alien Stars isn't quite as enjoyable as the other two volumes of the series due to the fact Harry doens't quite work as a professional criminal and I felt the more "aware" cultists helping him investigate the occult was less interesting than the protagonist stumbling around on his own. On the plus side, I liked the larger role of women in the story. There's more in this book and they play a more central role than usual.
I also appreciate all the references to the Colour of Outer Space, which is my favorite of HPL's work.
In this third tale of Harry Stubbs, our self effacing but pugnacious hero faces another Mythos entity, this one is a take on The Colour out of Space.
David Hambling merges plausible science, real life occultism and the fictional world of HPL, and brings them all together in this story.
The expansion of Harry Stubbs world and the evolution of the character are also very welcome.
If you liked the other installments of Hamblings tales, you'll love this one.