This was such a spectacular escape from the classic Lovecraftian stories. This is a Science Fiction/Horror story, that deals all together with the concepts of despair, fear and claustrophobia. This is also the first story in which the narrator actually dies in the story. There is very little to connect with the cannon in the narrative, but it is totally worth it. The only possible connection would be the main residents of Venus (where the story takes place), which are reptilian creatures with tentacles. These could be a form of a descendant of one of the Elder Gods.
The story follows our narrator, Kenton Stanfield, as he is on a quest to find a crystal on the surface of Venus. He travels through a jungle and eventually gets through it, and in a big open marsh he sees a body with the crystal he is looking for. When he approaches the body he finds an invisible wall. Eventually he finds his way past the wall and gets the crystal from the body, only to find that it wasn’t a wall at all, but an invisible labyrinth.
The rest of the story is a psychological profile in fear, and a brilliant one at that. If you have no interest in Lovecraft, this is the story for you to read, and if you love Lovecraft, then you must devour it!
This was a fairly early iteration of Lovecraft’s work, and a clear indication of the direction that he intended to go in the Dream-Cycle. This is a collaboration, so it is a bit of a stretch from Lovecraft’s other work, and frankly, not nearly as precise and put together. The language is pulled together with cheap word positioning (“the doomed shack”. The only reason doomed is used here is to give the story a creepier effect, when in reality, it shouldn’t have been written as a creepy story, but as a cosmic horror story because the whole planet is doomed) and a rambling tone, when on close inspection of Lovecraft’s other works, he tends to have loose meaning and trite verbiage, but it is precise. Where it isn’t in this story.
Basically we follow the narrator into a cosmic horror dream. The use of Opium is prevalent, though the narrator says that this experience is neither an Opium dream, nor a fever dream. He goes on a cosmic journey, meeting gods and leaving the earth, only to find that there is a cosmic event that has destroyed the world.
The plot line is a Lovecraftian story, but what is absent is all the beautiful references, and subtleties. From the preface of the story Lovecraft thought highly of Winifred Jackson who this story is based on, but I fear that his collaboration with Elizabeth Berkeley sapped the story of it’s needed umph.
Join me tomorrow for a Blind Read through of “The Walls of Eryx”, another collaboration.
Quite an interesting and lore building story. From the preface to the story it seems as though Lovecraft was very proud of the language of this story, but what goes far beyond the language is the depth of character and world building.
The story follows a young man named Iranon who is looking for the city of his youth. He tells everyone he meets that he is a Prince of Aira, and he is trying to find that city once more. He travels around and sees all of the world, and even though he is young, he experiences much, that is until the twist at the end.
I would portend that Iranon is actually the narrator of most of Lovecraft’s stories. He tells of Sarnath, he tells of ancient cities in Egypt (the nameless city), and other strange locals. He strangely doesn’t remember when these visits happened or much about them, just that he has been there.
Then at the end of the story we find out that he is much, much older than we initially thought (in fact much older than he himself thinks), and that there is a certain amount of madness in his personality.
Then we couple that with the fact that we very nearly never hear a narrators name, they just tell the story. The narrators of the stories we see all are unreliable, which partners with the madness of Iranon.
The world of Lovecraft just keeps getting better and better.
Join me next Tuesday for “The Crawling Chaos” blind read through.
This one is a pure horror story. This reminds me of the times my friends and I sat around and played the table top game.
The story follows a narrator through Egypt to explore and he comes across the nameless city. A city whose inhabitants seemed to be some prehistoric creatures that were part man and part reptile. Our narrator finds a tunnel and happens upon some kind of deeper creature sleeping within the earth.
The absolute best part of horror, is the fear of the unknown. There are things in the world which we can even fathom and what makes Lovecraft so amazing is that he tunes into this with his Chthonic Deities and their followers.
Best line in the story? “To convey any idea of these monstrosities is impossible.”
And even though he gives a semblance of a description right after this, it still hits the fear meter.
We are also reintroduced to the Mad Arab who wrote the Necronomicon off the horrible experiences he had in places similar to this.
We are left with the wonderful, famous, Lovecraft line from the Necronomicon:
That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.
Lovecraft is also a precursor to all the modern day Urban fantasy, with his first person narrators who are describing these strange happenings, with their own voice. If you notice every Lovecraft narrator is invariably, Lovecraft. His discernible prose streams through each narrator’s tome, and what makes it work is the absolute weirdness and uniqueness of the tales.
Join me tomorrow for a blind read through of “The Quest of Iranon”