Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Trolley No. 1852, by Edward Lee, was written in 2009 during his Lovecraft or cosmic horror phase. Other novels within this vein include: Going Monstering, The Haunter of the Threshold, and The Innswich Horror. All of these novels take creatures and concepts from the Cthulhu Mythos, developed by H. P. Lovecraft, and add gratuitous amounts of Lee’s trademark sex, violence, and gore into their narratives.
Trolley No. 1852 begins with horror writer H. P. Lovecraft being propositioned to write a pornographic story for an underground magazine. The story he crafts involves a trolley which takes New York City johns to the exclusive bordello known as 1852. This club is a place where all sorts of sexual acts occur between not only humans, but a host of interdimensional beings known as “thoggs.”
Dr. Morgan Philips has gone to this club in search of sister, Selina. There, he finds that she has become a pawn in a plot to conquer the cosmos. Saving her from Madam Aheb and her horde of eldritch “thoggs” is not going to be easy.
The text of Trolley No. 1852 is meant to conjure the style and language of Lovecraft’s cosmic horror, but is very clearly written by Edward Lee. Much of the narrative is focused on sexual misconduct, rather than a fear of the unknown. As a result, it is as much a parody as it is a homage to the Cthulhu Mythos.
Horror plays a role in the novella, but Trolley No. 1852 is perhaps best classified as tentacle porn. It is not Edward Lee’s finest work. Readers of Lee expect a certain level of shock and revulsion associated with their acts of sex and violence. Here those elements are relatively muted when compared to some of Lee’s more hardcore offerings. Unless one feels the need to read the author’s entire bibliography, this is a story which can be avoided.