The Lovecraft Reread

How to Investigate Cthulhu on Ten Dollars a Day With Your Sanity Intact

and

This is definitely not the 150th post of the Lovecraft Reread. For post #150, we’re going to be covering Kishin Houkou Demonbane, which we* finally found a malware-free version of in the restricted stacks at Miskatonic. But we haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, so this isn’t post #150, quod erat demonstrandum.

Ruthanna hasn’t had the chance because she vastly overestimated her ability to get work done in Australia, where she was definitely not searching the vast deserts for buried pre-human ruins, and certainly didn’t find anything. And Anne claims to be “overbooked,” which has nothing to do with forbidden tomes of any sort…

ANNE (meandering in from the deepest stacks of forbidden, um, perfectly innocent tomes): This post is indeed not 150, because it exists in a bubble universe we created for the express purpose of getting time to watch Demonbane, a most worthy cause.

RUTHANNA: Thus, for no practical reason whatsoever, this week’s carefully un-numbered post focuses what to do if you should happen to find yourself living (or unliving) in a Mythos story.

AMP: In other words, an IMPORTANT PUBLIC SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENT, now that we’ve mastered (okay, are recklessly mucking around with) bubble universes.

RE: First important point: the Mythos is broader than you might think, and there’s no guarantee that an inhuman, uncaring universe will share your interpretation of Cthulhu and company. If you’re a purist about that “inhuman, uncaring” part, reality might be contrary enough to throw you something heretically Derlethian. Regardless of your personal feelings, you might want to scribble an elder sign on a piece of paper (angle-free, of course), and use it if you get cornered. Even if you’re in something more modern, perhaps influenced by the author’s latest Call of Cthulhu campaign, it might keep you alive even if it doesn’t keep you sane.

AMP: There is, of course, the problem of which elder sign you should use, the star-eye thingie or the spruce branch/hand of Elder Thing thingie. I suggest you make one of each and wield simultaneously. After all, you should still have two hands in a Mythos story, if not myriad tentacles.

Though, on second thought, if you have myriad tentacles, you might want to stay away from elder signs. Unless you’re one of the GOOD GUYS with myriad tentacles. And this is getting complicated…

RE: On the other hand, correctly identifying your sub-sub-sub-genre is vital to determining whether to crack open a book. In Lovecraft’s own stories, the Necronomicon may give you nightmares but will tell you what you’re running from, and possibly even how to fight it. In CoC, the book will cost you sanity points, and might even be what you’re running from in the first place. In none of these cases will you have any trouble tracking down books of which only a single copy (or three, or five, or zero) supposedly exists on the planet. If you can’t find it at Miskatonic, try Harvard.**

AMP: The Necronomicon also poses a threat to those with allergies to mold, mildew, blood-ink, undefinable miasmas, and human skin well-tanned to serve as a durable book binding. If you’re uncertain about your sensitivities, always wear personal protective gear when consulting.

That whole thing about the scarcity of arcane tomes? Fake news. If you’re in a Mythos story, you’re bound to stumble across at least one tome. Always pick it up. Sanity points are overrated.

RE: Denial is your friend. It’s never a dream, it’s never a hallucination. But if it’s something you’re trying to pretend never happened, rather than something you’re trying to pretend isn’t happening, you’re better off if you keep right on pretending. However, bear in mind that the refusal to face reality is a thin shield; looking for evidence to contradict your impossible memories never works. But if you’re going to do the research anyway, then for Nyarlathotep’s sake be prepared to find something. Fainting in horror at the thing you just spent twenty pages looking for, that’s just embarrassing.

AMP: Yeah, fainting is a noob move. What you SHOULD do is to run faster than an Olympic athlete while completely unaware of your surroundings until you’re safe at home, where you’ll be unable to figure out how you got from point-of-unbearable-discovery to home, which will allow you to pretend again that IT never happened. Easy-peasy.

RE: Avoid dating. Avoid houses.

AMP: And, goes without saying, avoid dating in houses. But if you must date, don’t date anyone from Innsmouth.

It might be a good idea to avoid love interests from Dunwich as well. Oh hell, let’s throw in Arkham and Kingsport too. Better safe than the unwitting parent of hybrid monstrosities. Unless, like me, you’re fond of hybrid monstrosities (closed minds grow cobwebs, not that spiders aren’t cool)—in which case, definitely check dating sites for natives of the above towns.

If the person you’re dating suddenly falls into a coma, only to wake vaguely inhuman, wait five years. They’ll get better.

If you find yourself inexplicably trapped in your loved one’s body, while loved one drives off in yours to engage in eldritch rituals, hey, that’s no biggie. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to go out and piss off all your loved one’s friends so he/she reaps the consequences. Also to spend big on his or her credit cards.

About the house problem. A house without basement or attic or library or hidden rooms or attached catacombs or questionable odors from alchemical experiments and/or necrophile collections MIGHT be safe. Rats in the walls are definitely a bad sign.

RE: In the end, surviving a Lovecraft story is all about attitude. Some things are legitimately trying to kill you or bring about the downfall of civilization. But for many protagonists, terror lies entirely in the discovery of unsavory relatives, or in the mere existence of peoples who outshine/precede humanity. Take a deep breath (assuming you have a body to breathe with), remember to take good notes, and you might get a publication out of the deal instead of AAAAAAAHHHHH!

AMP: Also in the end, if you’ve carefully prepared for the recovery of your dusty remains by an uncannily identical descendent whom your immortal buddies have schooled in necromancy, don’t worry, you’ll be back.

Also, what’s the big deal with Cthulhu? We’ll probably destroy civilization long before It gets its sorry butt out of Its weedy bed in R’lyeh. Then we’ll have the last laugh as Big C looks around for something to rampage over, only to find naught.

Also, you need only see the unsavory relatives a couple times a year. You know, on Walpurgisnacht and Lammas Eve.

Also, bask in the glow of beings that outshine you and maybe you’ll get to be their minion!

Finally, if you don’t have a body to breathe with, remember to give a generous pre-tip to the Mi-Go canister-tenders who’ll be keeping you dusted.

[RE: Truly final tip—If your partner in crime/blogging ends her portion of a seemingly innocuous journal entry/post with incoherent screaming, maybe check it out? Aaahhh? Hello? The window?]

 

* “We,” in this case, is Ruthanna’s anime-loving housemate Shelby, redeeming herself from the Horror of the Forks.
** Why are none of these tomes ever to be found at Brown? For a Providence-lover, Howard misses out on a lot of opportunities to …build …the reputation of his hometown school.***
***AMP: (still in the deepest stacks of a certain university in Providence) That’s right. Brown has no arcane archives whatsoever. Nope, nothing to see here, wannabe wizards, move along before the Custodes eat, err, escort you out.

Ruthanna Emrys’s neo-Lovecraftian stories “The Litany of Earth” and “Those Who Watch” are available on Tor.com, along with the distinctly non-Lovecraftian “Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land” and “The Deepest Rift.” Winter Tide, a novel continuing Aphra Marsh’s story from “Litany,” is now available from Macmillan’s Tor.com imprint. The sequel, Deep Roots, will be out in July 2018. Ruthanna can frequently be found online on Twitter and Dreamwidth, and offline in a mysterious manor house with her large, chaotic household—mostly mammalian—outside Washington DC.

Anne M. Pillsworth’s short story.The Madonna of the Abattoir” appears on Tor.com. Her young adult Mythos novel, Summoned, is available from Tor Teen along with sequel Fathomless. She lives in Edgewood, a Victorian trolley car suburb of Providence, Rhode Island, uncomfortably near Joseph Curwen’s underground laboratory.

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