My short stories, poems, commentary, podcasts, book reviews, as well as outlines and character descriptions for new upcoming work.


Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; At the Mountains of Madness, pt 4

Talk about a revelation!  Chapter 7 of this story gives so much of what I was looking for!  It’s like a primer for Lovecraft.

Our brave explorers continue on their trek through the ancient cosmic city and through the frescoes and sculptures they tell a story of the Great Old Ones who once lived in the city.  I will eventually have to go back and read through this chapter because there was so much here to consume.

First off, lets talk Shoggoth.  I had thought that this was an actual god, or species of god, or something along those lines.  What we find here is that the Shoggoths are actually creations of the Great Old Ones.  They were “protoplasmic masses” that were brought together by the Great Old Ones to have slave labor.  They were used to create the amazing city that the narrator and Danforth are exploring.  The Shoggoths eventually rise up against the Great Old Ones, but were eventually put back down.

We also see a little about Cthulhu and it’s minions.  They come down from the cosmos and attack the Great Old Ones.  The narrator mentions these creatures as the humanoid Cthulhu spawn.  There was a great war, and eventually peace broke out and the Cthulhu spawn was given the land, and the Great Old Ones and the Shoggoth took to the Ocean floor.  That is until the Pacific waters rose and the great cities of the Cthulhu spawn were swallowed by the sea.  From what I’ve gathered from other stories, the great city R’lyeh, where “all the cosmic octopi” lived is also the prison of Cthulhu itself (from info from the Shadow over Innsmouth).  So here we have the origin (at least origin from our worldly perspective) of Cthulhu.

Then, much later, after the war with the Cthulhu spawn and the uprising of the Shoggoth, there came the Mi-go, partially fungoid, partially crustacean creatures.  They also came down from the cosmos, and it seems as though they defeated the Great Old Ones, because the Great Old Ones tried to flee, but found that after so long, they could not leave the earth’s atmosphere.  They thus fled to all portions of the world.

What is significant to this, is that now we have an understanding of the Great Old One’s reach and some of their capabilities.  We also have now two different races besides these creatures, the Cthulhu spawn, and the Mi-go.

The Cthulhu spawn seems to be in the pacific ocean, with their few cities, including the fantastic R’lyeh.  So the stories containing them, have to be in the south towards the Antarctic.

Then we have the Mi-go, who began in the Antarctic, but are known in the Himalayas, so they must have migrated during the ice age.  Since the only information we have about them is that they flourish in cold environs, we must guess that any mention of the Mi-go to be surrounded by sub-zero temperatures.  I imagine this information will be important for investigation later.

SO ultimately, we have people being born from the Great Old Ones.  It is implied that our race may have started in this Antarctic city that the expedition has found.  However we still have those transformation ideas.  Transforming into a fish person.  Transforming into an Ape.  And transforming into a beast.

Since the Great Old Ones have relegated themselves to the Depths, then it is apparent that they have a direct correlation to the Fish transformation.  As of right now I would argue that they also have the Ape transformation under their wing as well.  I’m not sure where the beast transformation comes from.

Also we know that Cthulhu is empirically, NOT a Great Old One.  This was something I was hazy on.  Though I’m assuming that Dagon is one of the children, or lesser Great Old Ones, I have not gotten a name for any others as of yet.

Loving the story thus far, and can’t wait to see if there is any more Mythos in here.

Is there anything I missed?

What do you think?

Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; At the Mountains of Madness, pt.3

Continuing the journey into the mountains of madness (chapters five and six).  Our narrator and his cohort Danforth head out over the mountains to search out the mysteries of this strange antarctic world.  There are sprawling descriptions of the landscape as they fly over it, but they eventually turn the corner and come across a terrible “Cyclopean city”.  In this meaning that it is a huge city, all made from stones laid together, not using mortar.  This adds to the mystery of the strange civilization, now abandoned.  They eventually land down where they can and head into this strange and massive city.

They take samples of the stones, showing that the city is incredibly old, older than any known civilization.  Older than the dinosaurs even.  This is an interesting perspective for a geologist like our narrator is.  If we take out all the horror aspect of this notion, it means an incredible find.  Somehow there was a civilization of intelligent creatures, long before we have known to be evolved from apes.

This brings up an interesting notion of transformation to me.  There have been many stories where the people in the stories have transformed into fish people, and ape people.  A strange juxtaposition.  As a writer, Lovecraft is probably trying to find transformative creatures that are terrifying, but if this is indeed the case why not transform people into crabs or some such?  Or even Octopus people to give the tentacle nightmares of Cthulhu?

I think there is something deeper that Lovecraft is going for, which is coming to light through the reading of this story.  People are descendants from apes, and even farther back, all life has developed from one celled organisms that transformed into amphibious creatures.  Is Lovecraft saying with this story that we are all descendant from the Old Ones?  Or is it that the Old Ones are transforming people back to the known quantity of what they knew when they had prevalence on our world?

If it’s the latter than there are potentially two different influences.  Which of these beings were around during the time we were amphibious and which of them were around when we were Apes?

This story seems to be about the “Great Old Ones” (of which I’m sure will come to light the farther I get in the story, though there is already mention of them), and this was their city before us.  Thus the Great Old Ones are beings like Dagon, and Cthulhu, because they are sea dwelling and such.

The strange thing is, this city is huge, but most of the rooms are small.  Which means that despite the fact that the narrator talks about how the Great Old Ones came from the stars and the moon, there were other beings here as well.  The beings that would house the 30 by 30 rooms that were no larger than 20 feet (Lovecraft goes into specific detail describing the layout of the city)…beings our size.  Is it possible that in that ancient civilization there were mortal beings from another planet?  Is the end game of this story to presuppose how Human’s came to be on the planet?

I’m over half way through the story with six chapters left, which means three more blogs (unless I get crazy into it and ignore work for a while).  I’m excited to see if any of these theories come to light.

What do you think?

Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; At the Mountains of Madness, pt. 2

This is the first of the novellas by Lovecraft, that I’ve gone into.  The organization and tentative handling of the pacing is an interesting elongation of what the short stories experience.  This blind read recap comes from chapters 3 and 4, which basically covers the insinuation of something happening.

The crew goes to the destroyed encampment of Lake and they find that it has been completely devastated.  It seems like it may have been from a weather event, but things are stranger than they seem.  Plus there is a missing expedition member, Gedney, and a missing dog as well.  Everyone else was killed, some in what looked like weather, though the circumstances are suspect, but there are some far greater horrors in store.

Many of the expedition members and dogs, were cut up with strange and horrible precision.  Doctor precision.

The group makes a search for Gedney, and fly over the strange igneous rock, which doesn’t seem quite normal.  In fact Lovecraft describes them as being like paintings of Nicholas Roerich.  There is a strange feeling in the air.

Danforth and our narrator eventually go out over these peaks, frequently referred to as Mountains of Madness, and they come upon an “elder and utterly alien earth”.

To the best of my knowledge, these are the first real cliffhanger endings.  Every chapter so far has left the reader with something to chew on, and come back to.  This type of cliffhanger chapter end, has come into more prominence in writers like Dan Brown and James Patterson, and it’s interesting to see Lovecraft developing something like a 1930’s movie ending.  It almost seems like when Flash Gordon is in the car and goes over the cliff, just to find next week, that he jumped out of the car at the last second.  Lovecraft is just using his weird horror to elicit those feelings.  Truly a master of atmosphere.

The chapters at times feel a bit plodding, but they slowly develop into one serious and terrifying event to end them.  It almost feels like each chapter is a book to itself, and the whole novella is part of a series.

It is also interesting to see the narrator be an archaeologist, because the utterly alien horrors that are inherent to Lovecraft are coming from a place of empirical thought, which gives the horror a little more credence when it happens.

I’m going to read through two more chapters on Friday which will take me over halfway through the novella, so if you want to join me feel free!

Also a great way to get through this if you’re new to Lovecraft is to listen to Will Hart’s podcast of it:


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.