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Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; At The Mountains of Madness pt 1

Welcome back to another blind read.  I’m tearing into “At The Mountains of Madness”, and have come across some interesting pieces that hook into the mythos, but there is one lingering question that I have as I get farther and farther into the cannon.  How strictly are the stories connected to the Dreamlands, and what are in the mythos, and what are just weird tales?  Thus far I have not come across anything that might be considered connected to the Dreamlands, except maybe “The White Ship”.  I have one very obvious story that is coming up with “The Dream-Quest of unknown Kadath”, and one of the mythos with “Call of Cthulhu”.  I am really going to enjoy reading some Derleth, to try and get a better understanding of how these are both connected and separated once I have finished the Blind Reads (as I understand that August Derleth is the one who truly created what is now considered the cannon).

This story surrounds the Miskatonic expedition, as it searches an unknown mountain range in Antarctica.  There are some fun call backs so far with the ship called Arkham and our narrator mentioning that The Necronomicon is in the library of Miskatonic University.

Basically the first two sections of the story revolve around the findings of the mountains, and then within the mountains of some strange fossils.  The fossils seem to come from 600 million years ago, but they are far more advanced than your average trilobite.  They seem to be amphibious (another call back?) with gills, but they also have wings with strange striations.

The crew gets called up to the mountain range, with it’s strange rock striations and strange petroglyphs in areas so deep that they have to be hundreds of millions of years old.

If it weren’t for the tone of the novella, and the consistent call backs to how the fossils look like something described in The Necronomicon, this could just be a scientific journal about the findings of a paleontologist expedition.

There is also an interesting call back when Lake, one of the crew, calls the specimens they find “The Elder Ones”, based upon descriptions in The Necronomicon.  There is great, hit you over the head with a hammer foreshadowing here.

But there is also great writing that brings you back for more.  I’ll leave you with this example:  “No wonder Gedney ran back to the camp shouting, and no wonder everyone else dropped work and rushed headlong through the biting cold to where the tall derrick marked a new-found gateway to secrets of inner earth and vanished aeons.”

What do you think?

I’ll be back next week for the next section of “At The Mountains of Madness”.

Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Shadow over Innsmouth, conclusion

Wow, so much in such a short chapter.  There is more in these last few pages than there had been in the previous 60, and truly, the majority of interest comes from the last two paragraphs of the story.

The narrator wakes from his faint, and headed back home.  He continues on his investigation of his lineage when he finds that some of the story of old Obed Marsh, was actually his ancestors.  The daughter who was married off to an Arkham man, was actually our Narrator’s great-Grandmother.  He sees pictures and sees the “Innsmouth look”.  He even finds out that an Uncle that he had committed suicide when he found out the truth.  Our narrator buys a gun, thinking, that maybe he will do the same thing, but his heart isn’t in it.  There is a strange draw back to the Innsmouth.  Back to the Sea.

So earlier in the story, they were not trying to chase him.  They did not tell him to go to the Gilman to trap him, they were bringing in one of their own.

The interesting point for the lore comes in the second to last paragraph.  It is here that I have seen the first mention of Cthulhu being a “Deep One”, and that has to mean that Dagon is related in some way to Cthulhu.  The narrator mentions that “the Deep Ones could never be destroyed, even through the palaeogean magic of the forgotten Old ones might sometimes check them.”  So the Deep Ones are evil in some way, because another “forgotten power” is checking them.

In addition to this we have the first sight (through the narrators eyes) of a Shoggoth.  I had previously thought these were a god in and of themselves, but the way they are described here, I think they are just a creature, as the narrator saw “a Shoggoth”.  This probably has something to do with the third contract of the Order of Dagon, because the narrator says he saw the Shoggoth in a dream, then when he woke from the dream screaming, he had all of a sudden acquired the “Innsmouth Look”.

So there is transformation which can occur.  There is also a distinct lineage connection, but I have to believe that there is still the ability for the transformation if there is no heritage of the Deep Ones.  I’m sure more clarification will occur the more I read on, but that’s what my hypothesis is now.

And then there is the Shoggoth.  From what I know of in the past, this is a creature that has many eyes and mouths (akin to a gibbering mouther in Dungeons and Dragons land), but apparently it also has some power.  It seems to have transformed the narrator, both in body and in mind, as he had lost knowledge that he could not have gain otherwise.  Either the Shoggoth is the method of transmutation, or it is the harbinger, just solidifying the knowledge that has already been transferred, by some ancient magic.

What do you think?

In any case, I cant wait to read on!  I will be moving on to “At the Mountains of Madness” by Del Rey next.  I will break the story up into approximately 25 page chunks so we can analyze each section, if you are reading along.

Join me tomorrow for the first 25!

Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Shadow over Innsmouth pt. 4

We have now reached the denouement.  The background of the story has lead our narrator to try and flee that horrible mind-bending mess that is Innsmouth.

When the chapter opens our narrator has decided to get out of dodge, and goes to get to the bus, only to be told by the odd bus driver, that despite travelling to Innsmouth without issue, there is suddenly a engine problem and the narrator will have to wait the night.  Joe Sargent (the bus driver) tells our narrator to go to the Gilman to wait the night.  He even tells our narrator that he will get a great room rate.  They only charged him a dollar.

He waits the night away in his room and makes sure to lock and barricade the door.  He even looks for an escape route, just because he is scared.  Then late in the night there is a shuffling at the door, and someone knocks with increasing frequency when he doesn’t answer.

Our narrator gets scared and tries to flee through the hotel.  There is a fairly large chase sequence which is a little jumbled (Lovecraft is a master of tone and atmosphere, not action), but the narrator flees out the window and through the streets to get out of Innsmouth.

He faints when he sees a large contingent of fish creatures gather in town, creatures nearly too abhorrent to describe.

There are a few interesting visuals in this portion of the book.  The first is after he flees the Gilman, he tries to stay to the shadows, but he has to cross a street that has direct view of the waters, and he sees two different things of note.  The first is a strange light, emanating from out over the sea of a color he cant quite pinpoint.  And there is a churning of creatures coming to Innsmouth from the craggy rock that old Captain Obed frequented.  This image of the churning waters with “bobbing heads and flailing arms” that “were alien and aberrant” in a way he could not conceive.  This immediately brings about images of Cthulhu and the multi-tentacled beard.  Though these are smaller creatures, and probably more related to Dagon.

The unholy light however, of a hue unknown.  The moon is full and bright throughout the story, could it be the moon’s call?  The moon has called creatures in previous stories, could this be the call, and answer that we have seen in previous stories?

Beyond that there is one more aspect of the story which is really provocative.  There seem to be three different creatures in Innsmouth.  We have creatures that are simian based, which we have seen in many different stories , we have fish creatures which walk beside the simian creatures, and then we have something dog like, or what I like to establish as “beasts”.  The beasts are called from the moon in every other story, with the exception of “The Doom that Came to Sarnath” and there there are fish creatures which are called by the moon.

Are the beasts and the simian creatures (think “Arthur Jermyn” and “The Outsider”) the same thing?  Could Innsmouth be Sarnath in this age?

With the completion of chapter V of this story (which will probably be tomorrow) I have now read through two Del Rey Lovecraft books, and will get started into the third.  I would like to begin to get a timeline, or at least get to understanding the mythos and how they are connected on my own (and with the help of you all) without doing any research and see how my theories stack up.

What do you think?

Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Shadow over Innsmouth, pt 3

The ravings of an old madman fill our minds through the next chapter of this story.  Our narrator gets some bootleg alcohol and gets the elderly Zodak Allen to follow him to a spot by the sea where they can talk out of prying eyes.  Zodak confirms a number of suspisions that I had previously while reading through, however he expounds more than expected and we are posed with more questions than he ended up answering.

Zodak tells of how Captain Obed brought the people of the Order of Dagon to the mainland, because he wanted to promote a healthy community.  The mills were dying out and the fish were getting fewer and fewer, but he remembered an island where the people had abundance.

The people of this Island mated with fish people.  Then twice a year they would sacrifice their young to Dagon in the sea, and they never ran out of fish.  The offspring that came from the human fish relations, started out as human, then began to transform as they got older, to the point of transitioning completely and leaving land and heading for the sea.  If we are to believe Zodak completely, then my previous theory is (mostly) out the window.

The interesting part of Zodak monologue to me, is the three Oaths of Dagon.  We never find out what these are, but we know that the many people in town took the first two (which had something to do with not telling anyone outside the cult of the cult inter-workings).  Zodak was wholly against taking the third Oath, which seems to me an Oath of body, soul and spirit.  This could be how, beyond interbreeding, the entire town of Innsmouth has begun to transform.  That third Oath, could be inviting the change into you.

We do know that the previous two oaths did give Zodak some knowledge however.  He knows of Shoggoth.  The mentions Cthulhu R’lyeh, which I’m pretty sure is the sunken city which is Cthulhu’s prison.  What is interesting about this is that Cthulhu is imprisoned under the water and Dagon is a god of the water.  Which means there is a definite connection there, and there is a connection with the Order of Dagon, because Zodak obviously learned this through his Oaths.

So now we have three deities in the mythos, concretely linked.  Shoggoth, Cthulhu, and Dagon.  Let’s see where this story leads us…

What do you think?

Join me next week for the last two chapters of The Shadow over Innsmouth.

Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Shadow over Innsmouth, pt2

Back again with the second section of “The Shadow over Innsmouth”.

The second portion of the story is a slow burn and an introduction to the town itself.  We see a few different portions of the town, and how it is split up, between the poorer, more inhabited part of town and the richer, barren part of town.

When our narrator first comes to town on the bus, we get a brief glimpse of the bus driver, who holds all those same fish qualities that were described in the first section.  The driver is quiet and subdued, but obviously is reticent to take our narrator, and outsider, to Innsmouth.

While driving in, the narrator notices that the old Masonic hall has been transformed into “The Esoteric order of Dagon”, which he believes is a sort of cult.  He looks to the other side of the street and sees the church, which has a basement door open.  He sees a shambling figure of a priest wearing a diadem that looks nearly identical to the one he saw with Miss Tilton in the first section.

There is mention throughout the story that the children of Innsmouth look mainly like real children (at least the few that our narrator sees).  He postulates that if it is a blood disorder or a virus that changes the folks of this town to become more fishlike, then it happens after puberty.  This is yet another feather in the cap for the transformation theory, and nearly codifies the theory.  The more time they have exposed to Dagon, the more transformation occurs within them.  Thus the children don’t have much transformation because they haven’t had much time in the church, or on the island itself, thus they haven’t transformed very much.

As the chapter progresses we hear of an old man in his 90’s who knows much about the town, and when he gets drunk is liable to talk about it.  His name is Zodek Allen, and the narrator finds him on a bench at the end of the chapter.  This is probably going to lead to Zodek telling of a few of the mysteries of Innsmouth in the next chapter.

Join me next week for the next portion of “The Shadow over Innsmouth!”

Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Shadow Over Innsmouth pt.1

This series is a blind read of H.P. Lovecraft’s works.  The idea is that I will read through the entirety of his published works and probably move onto a few successors (which will absolutely include August Derleth).  That being said, I have only rudimentary knowledge of the Gothic and cosmic world of Lovecraft.  Because of this There will be some pretty crazy theories coming through this blog, but it’s something I love to do, so if you have a better theory, or a clashing theory, please respond!

The Shadow Over Innsmouth is cut into 5 parts, so I’m going to dedicate a blog post for each section.  The first is merely the set up; our narrator is planning a trip in New England and wants to find cheaper transportation so a ticket agent tells him that he can take a bus through Innsmouth, a port town that is nearly deserted.  This first portion is basically about our narrator getting information about this strange little shady town, but he comes across a few interesting nuggets.  The first comes from the ticket agent.  Though he is an unreliable source, he tells the narrator that the people of Innsmouth are strange.  That they come from a lineage of a sea Captain, Obed Marsh.  Apparently Obed’s son married a strange girl, “a South Sea Islander” of strange physiognomy.  Then the son of these two is Old Man Marsh, who married a girl from nearby Ipswitch.

The people of Innsmouth have an oddly fish-like appearance.  they seem to be mostly bald with narrow heads, flat noses and bulgy eyes that never seem to shut, their necks are shriveled and creased up (gills), and their skin has a rough, or scabby look and feel to them.  This is probably stemming from the “South Sea Islander” mother of Old Man Marsh.

What is strange about this is an intermarriage theme, which is held over from “Arthur Jermyn”, though in this story is seems to be fish related (we’ll get to that later), rather than ape related.  I am still unsure of where the ape beasts come from, (I.E. what god they are related to), but it is apparent that the fish theme comes from Dagon.

So The Old Captain goes out to an island, just off the mainland, where no one else has seemed to go, but there are rumors that he has made contracts with devils out on that small island.  If we go back to the short story “Dagon”, we will remember a seaman who crashed on an island with a strange monolith, and on that monolith were drawings of fish-men worshiping some sort of creature under the sea.  He makes contact with them an nearly goes insane.  Could it be that this is a similar island, that worshipers of Dagon have formed?  Are these the devils that Obed Marsh has been communicating with?

It seems so.  As the story progresses, we find that a person from Innsmouth made thier way to state street and pawned a tiara, then he died shortly thereafter (intentionally?  Or by curse?).  Our Narrator was shown this tiara by a curator who had it under a case.  There are strange reliefs on the tiara, similar to the images we saw on the monolith in the story “Dagon”.

I’m particularly interested in the lineage of these peoples.  Are they gradually being changed?  It is said that the town only has about 400 people now (at the time of the telling of the story) and that it was far bigger before that.  It doesn’t seem possible that the entire town was populated by the inter-species breeding of the Marshes.  Could their dealings with Dagon be transforming the townsfolk?  Or have other piscatorial denizens come to the town through Marsh’s worshiping and interbred with other townsfolk?  We might find more clues in part 2…

 

What do you think?

Join me tomorrow for “The Shadow over Innsmouth” part 2!

Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Outsider

What a beautiful, haunting story.  This innocuous story, may very well be the most important of all the stories I have read thus far.  It is the story of a person (probably a man) who has lived thier entire life in a castle.  There are trees outside that cover all light, and he is too terrified to go far away.  There is one tower in the castle that goes beyond the canopy of the trees, so one day he climbs the tower, and finds that he is in yet another building, yet this one is at ground level.

The ground level is the first shock of this story, but the more I dig into it, the narrator does not tell of thier childhood.  It seems as though they just attained consciousness in the lower castle.  Around them were bones and corpses of other humans, but this fact does not bother the narrator.  In addition, the narrator understands (English?) language, but cannot speak it.  The reason is given that there is no one to speak to.

Once the narrator gets above ground they wander for a while and see a church and another castle which looks much like the one he’s been living in underground.  He smiles, because there is a party going on in the castle.  He goes to join them, and when he gets there the entire party is terrified at his appearance (it is fairly obvious at the time, but it is solidified at the end of the story…the last shock), and they run away.  The narrator thinks there is a presence in the room and looks around, eventually seeing a horrid creature.  He tries to scream out in English, but all that comes out is “a ghastly ululation”, instead of any kind of human scream.  The narrator also says this is the first and last thing he ever uttered.  The narrator is looking in a mirror.  He then leaves the castle and goes wandering through the night, calmed by the fact that he’s a monster, a creature of the night, so he will prowl like one.

First off.  He has no childhood.  He comes to memory as a being that can think and read.  He also thinks that he’s a human, or that he once was.  This means that he has undergone a transformation, and when he is woken, he is a creature.  The fact that he’s interred underground could mean that his transformation was an affect of the Great Old Ones.  maybe he was one of the previous narrators of one of the other stories, and he and his fellows were trapped in this tomb (they are the other corpses and skeletons), and for some reason he was transformed.

He has to go through great strides to get out of the underground castle, which could mean it was a castle build to honor the cthonians.  There were efforts put into place to keep him in, inferring that he could be dangerous.

There seems to be a correlation between this story and “Arthur Jermyn” and “The Lurking Fear”.  Arthur Jermyn has a man procreating with an ape like creature, and the Lurking Fear has an ape like creature (actually multiple ape like creatures), and in fact the narrator of the Outsider is described as ape like at one point.  Could the White Ape from Arthur Jermyn actually be a woman who was transformed by the Great Old Ones?  Are the Ape like creatures in all of Lovecraft, actually people who have been transformed and submit to their new proclivities?  Because of how this story is framed, I think that’s the case, it is not creatures from another plane (at least these ape like creatures), or the moon, but in fact humans who have been influences by the madness of the Elder Gods, or the Great Old Ones and have been transformed into beasts.

What do you think?

Join me next week for a blind read through of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”.  Because of the length of the story, i will be doing it one section at a time, so this story will consist of five blind reads, and possibly a sixth to sum the experience.

 

Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Unnamable

This story gives great perspective on Lovecraft himself, and we get a sneak peek at the illustrious Randolph Carter.

What was so great about this story was getting to see what Lovecraft really felt about the construction of his stories.  Carter, who is apparently a writer as well, has a long conversation with a friend of his about how to tell a story.  His friend persists that there is no scientific was that anything in the scientific world could be unnamable.  Any kind of creature would have to be contained within some sub-classification or genus, but then suddenly, at the end of the story, a creature of some sort comes out of an old house they have been sitting next to and attacks them.  Manton, the friend has a mental break down because what he saw he cannot classify.

What gives the story a bit more depth is that it seems as though the subtext was that Manton stayed at the place where the story unfolds and saw something horrible when he was younger (which is probably the same creature he sees at the end of the story).  The point is that he has spent his life trying to categorize to deny the horrible, un-categorizable thing he saw as a child.

Carter also seems to serve as a duplicate for Lovecraft himself.  There is a theme that streams through Carter’s descriptions, which stream through all of the Lovecraft that I’ve read thus far.

This was a really great story on the essence of horror tales, and about the writing process in general.

What do you think?

Join me next Tuesday for a blind read of “The Outsider”

Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Hound

What a beautifully dark and Gothic tale this was.  Gorgeous in scope and so much more than a Poe tale.  We follow along a couple of grave robbers who search the world for the best loot from their exhumations.  Until they come across a seemingly great score in Holland.  They take a medallion and are chased around the world by the specter of some supernatural hound.

The first thing that hits you with this story is the language.  It is probably the most beautifully told stories I’ve read from Lovecraft yet.  He takes his time and delicately lays the foundations slowly, unveiling the booty the grave robbers have purloined.  Then he describes the need for further exploration.  The desire and greed for more.  Then once the medallion is revealed, we go on a roller coaster of horror, with danger in every step.

Particularly of interest to me was the fact that we get such a glimpse of the Necronomicon.  We get a description of what the book looks like and a bit of it’s terrible contents, and what is more compelling is that these two gallants were using the Necronomicon to search out new items.

That being said, I have to think there is some meaning behind the name St. John, the narrators companion.  He is one of the main drivers of the story as he is the one who actually takes the medallion and is the first in the Hound’s catastrophic path.

Another interesting aspect of this story is the Hound itself.  We find out at the end of the story that when the narrator exhumes the grave again, that the skeleton that was originally buried in, he finds the medallion back around the skeletons neck, but now the skeleton has grown fangs and has a strange phosphorescent glow from its eyes.  There is also hair and skin attached to the bones.  Was this a grave of a priest to some great dog god?

Then we have the Jade connection.  I can only assume that the phosphorescent glow was a green glow, which hearkens back to “The Doom that came to Sarnath”, and the strange green glow that was sent down from the moon.  Did they awaken a moon god?

Then there is the Necronomicon to consider (not to mention it’s supposed immolation.  Could this really be the end of the Necronomicon?  I wonder where in the chronology this story fits in).  This was written by the infamous mad Arab Alhazred, who was purportedly a demonologist.  Could the demons be connected to the Great Old Ones?  Is this a separate deific scale to worry about in the Lovecraftian ethos?

 

What do you think?

Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Moon-Bog

Here is another connecting thread, assuming that Lovecraft meant to have his stories in the same world (which I tend to think he did).

The story follows our nameless narrator as he treads to Ireland to join his friend at his new estate in Kilderry.  Denys Berry wants to drain a bog next to his mansion (dare I say castle?  Our narrator does stay in a tower, and this would feed into a much more gothic scene.), but the locals are worried about something, and they leave when he mentions his plans.  Eventually we have some very strange happenings, and virtually everyone dies, with the exception of our narrator.

There are a few interesting connectors in this story.  The narrator makes mention of Grecian architecture buried in the bog.  Again we have this marbleized Greek architecture which has now shown up in many tales.  Does this have a connection?  Were the Greeks and Romans influenced by the Great Old Ones?  Were in fact (in the Lovecraft world) the Greek and Roman gods the Cthulhu pantheon?  Was that how they had so much power and stretched their influence all the way up to the Germanic tribes of the British Isles?

The second connector is the moon.  I haven’t seen the moon referenced for a while yet, however it is present here and is a determining factor (it’s even in the title!).  In past stories the moon was a location for some kind of deity that sent creatures down to earth (Think The Doom that came to Sarnath).  Could it be that the titular bog is actually a placeholder for the moon?  The action all happens under the moon light, and is gone in the light of day.  The only think we’re missing is the mysterious green light, that floats down from the moon, but that could be because of the Grecian influence.  The only time the green light flows down was in the North Americas which were beyond the Grecian influence.  Hopefully we’ll get some light (see what I did there?) shown on this in future stories.

What do you think?

Join me next Tuesday for a Blind Read of “The Hound”