I'm not going to lie: this collection of 21 short stories mixing Lovecraftian themes into various wars throughout history (and into the future) was a hard slog. At various points I almost gave up on World War Cthulhu, but then I realised returning to consume just one story in between every other book I read wasn't translating well for me, and I put aside most everything else to push through the rest. The problem was, I chose all the authors I liked or had at least heard of to read from that point, meaning the stories I read in the middle of my journey through this collection were by far the best. Or, if you prefer, the ones I read first and last did very little for me.
But let's start with the good. THE PROCYON PROJECT was classic Tim Curran, if a little on the understated side for him; while BROADSWORD by William Meikle was a good old fashioned WWII action-adventure, that just happened to feature creatures imagined by Lovecraft. WUNDERWAFFE was my first introduction to Jeffrey Thomas and his Punktown setting, and was good enough to ensure I'll be revisiting that place in the universe before too long. Then there were three other stories I enjoyed that came from authors I was not familiar with. DARK CELL by the editors of the entire collection, Brian K. Sammons and Glynn Owen Barrass, felt like it could be the bare bones of a Hollywood action-horror movie depicting a law enforcement agent and a career criminal having to join forces to stop the IRA from unleashing something evil into our world. THE YOTH PROTOCOLS by Josh Reynolds was cut from a similar mould but featureed something very different from a career criminal teaming with a law enforcement officer ... My favourite story of the whole collection, however, was THE BOONIEMAN by Edward E. Erdelac. This was a fantastic creature-feature set in the Vietnam war, featuring a beast you're unlikely to forget any time soon.
I should also mention the art which accompanies each tale. Created by M. Wayne Miller, each brings aspects of the story that follows to life, and on occasion assisted me to picture something which my imagination was having trouble conjuring up. Good stuff.
But for every tale I mentioned above, there was at least one that left me very cold. Some I reacted quite neutrally to, but others were either overly detailed, too confusing, or simply non-engaging. Both the stories set amongst the battle for Troy fell to one or more of these issues, while MAGNA MATER by Edward Morris numbed me to a point past caring and THE SINKING CITY by Konstantine Paradias was a good idea which failed to grab me in any way.
I should also mention this collection is long - possibly too long - for a short story collection. Clocking in at over 390 Kindle pages may not sound like a lot, but when it's the same basic theme revisited in different settings, it feels at least half again as long as that page number. The collection likely would have been strengthened had it been a few stories shorter (though the last two tales are not examples that should have been cut.)
2.5 Mad Plans to Win At Any Cost for World War Cthulhu: A Collection of Lovecraftian War Stories.