Welcome to Close Reads! In this series, Leah Schnelbach and guest authors dig into the tiny, weird moments of pop culture—from books to theme songs to viral internet hits—that have burrowed into our minds. This time out, Sarah McCarry teases out similarities in the mythmaking of noted racism enthusiast H.P. Lovecraft, and noted purveyor of ’90s teen chillers, Christopher Pike.
You probably haven’t spent a lot of time considering the striking similarities between HP Lovecraft’s classic 1931 Antarctic travel warning At the Mountains of Madness and Christopher Pike’s extraordinary 1992 Martian-mission-from-hell bonanza The Season of Passage, if for no other reason than the fact that you probably haven’t read The Season of Passage. In thinking about this essay, I did consider the possibility that the Venn overlap between “people who are enthusiastic about At the Mountains of Madness” and “people who cannot shut up about The Season of Passage” consists entirely of, well, me. And yet! dear and patient reader, I ask you to join me, on a journey that will carry us from the frigid, lizard-vampire riddled plains of Mars to the frigid, lizard-ish-vampire-ish-infested mountains of Antarctica, from wet monsters to dry monsters to comely young ladies frolicking about spaceships in their undershorts; in short, a very specific window into the more dubious corners of the American psyche.
Are you ready? Let’s go.