Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma is a collection of short stories by Alex Shvartsman, ranging from humorous urban fantasy stories about quack exorcists-for-hire, to Christmas tales from the deepest, grimmest future to the occasional case of meta-humorous shenanigans, taking place among characters that are perfectly aware that they are going through nonsensical events in a disorderly universe.
The variety of stories in the collection range from tongue-in-cheek humorous (Explaining Cthulhu and Superior Firepower being two of my personal favorites) all the way to horror stories about the terrors that flit through our minds on a daily basis (The Rumination on What Isn’t is a perfect example of a dad-themed scary story if I’ve ever seen one). Some of the more autobiographical stories in the collection (Things We Leave Behind bears some startling resemblance to certain details that can be found in the author’s bio) appear to be indirect confessions of sorts and were a very welcome personal touch to the collection, in my opinion.
The science fiction stories in the collection are those that mostly stand out. From time travel to exo-planetary colonization to the occasional communication meltdown between species, I found that these stories felt more poignant and stayed with me long after I had put the collection down. While Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma contains a lot of solid examples of urban fantasy, I cannot hope but consider that perhaps this collection could have done with a few more semi-biographical pieces in their place.
If you are still on the fence on science fiction and fantasy and want to read solid shorts in between occasions of an author (creatively) pouring his heart out to his audience, you need look no further than Explaining Cthulhu To Grandma.