content by

Seamus Cooper

12 Days of Lovecraft: At The Mountains of Madness

Whew! Today is the final day of 2009 and the final day of my 12 days of Lovecraft. I have some conclusions to share below, but first, dear reader, join my on a soujourn “At The Mountains of Madness”!


The Story:

In order to forestall future Antarctic exploration, our narrator has at last decided to reveal the horrific details of the ill-fated Antarctic expedition out of Miskatonic U. a few years earlier. Led by our narrator, a team of scientists went to Antarctica to take some core samples with their fancy new drill. One guy goes off half-cocked with a small crew, and while taking some samples in the foothills of a colossal mountain range (careful readers will have divined that this is, in fact, the titular mountain range, and nothing good can be coming), he discovers a cave with some freaky dead monstery things in it.

[Follow me beyond the fold of horror!]

12 Days of Lovecraft: “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath”

It’s cold outside, so let’s curl up under the covers and undertake “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath”!

The Story:

Randolph Carter, traveler of the dreamlands, decides he wants to find the unknown city of Kadath after dreaming about it, so he undertakes an interminable quest through the world of dreams to find the city. He meets some friendly cats, he sails to the moon, he goes to many places with dumb names and meets creatures and people with dumb names, all in his quest to find Kadath because…he feels like it.

[Does he find Kadath?  I don’t know either!  But please keep reading anyway!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

12 Days of Lovecraft: “From Beyond”

Well, my 12 days of Lovecraft are nearing an end. I have a couple of gigantic stories to tackle, but I thought I’d warm up with a short one that was the basis of an excellent movie from the 80s,  (Watch the whole thing for free here!  Bargain!) so today we see what’s knocking on the door… “From Beyond”!

The Story

Our narrator has a buddy, Crawford Tillinghast, who, unsatisfied with having an awesome name, is making certain scientific and philosophical inquiries. Our narrator is of the belief that ol’ Crawford doesn’t have the cool, detached temperament necessary for such inquiries, and boy is he right! He tries to discourage his pal from pursuing these inquiries when he finds him drawn, unshaven, and lacking his former healthy chubbiness. Crawford angrily throws him out, only to invite him back a few days later “to see something.”

[To click here is to risk madness, reader!  Turn back!  Surely you haven't the temperament for this type of inquiry!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

12 Days of Lovecraft: “The Music of Erich Zann”

Hey! Is that Freedom Rock? No! It’s “The Music of Erich Zann”! Well, turn it up!

The Story:

After revealing that he once lived on a street that he has never been able to find since despite diligent searching, our narrator tells us of what happened when he lived there. He had a room on the fourth floor, just below the garret room occupied by the titular genius composer/violinist. Intrigued by the music he hears emanating from the composer’s apartment, he introduces himself and asks to hear the man perform. Erich Zann does perform reluctantly, but does not play any of the strange, unearthly harmonies the narrator heard earlier. When the narrator tries to look out the window, Erich totally freaks out and kicks him out. He later relents and offers to pay for the narrator to move to a lower floor.

[Rock on after the fold!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

12 Days of Lovecraft: “The Dreams in the Witch House”

Well, I enjoyed out little sojourn Down Under, but let’s return to Massachusetts to discover “The Dreams in the Witch House”!

The Story:

Our narrator rents a garret room in a house that superstitious locals shun because it was once the home of a witch and her hideous, rat-like familiar, a human-faced, sharp-toothed rodent hybrid known to the town as Brown Jenkin. Though the witch and Brown Jenkin are long disappeared, Arkham locals fancy that she’s not quite dead. Once our hero moves in, he delves into studies both mathematical and metaphysical, eventually proposing that if one could only calculate the angles properly, one could hop from one universe to another. Or something..

[And then what? Click on to find out!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

12 Days of Lovecraft: “The Shadow Out of Time”

As Jonathan Richman said, I love New England. Having said that, we’ve spent a lot of time in the nooks and crannies of my home region, peering into things both nnameable and unholy. So today, let’s visit Australia in the early 20th century as well as in earth’s pre-human past, as we encounter… “The Shadow Out of Time”!

The story:

Our narrator, Nathaniel Peaslee, loses 5 years of his life, during which time he is not himself. Literally. His wife leaves him, he studies much and travels widely, and when he regains his identity and sense of self, he has no memory of what’s happened in the years he suffered “amnesia.”

He does, though, have phantasmagorical dreams of alien cities. The dreams grow more detailed until they reveal the city exists on earth before humans and is ruled by a Great Race of iridescent cone beings who can project their consciousness through both time and space as they gather information for their giant library. (You may at this point have guessed what was going on while our narrator was an amnesiac, but it takes him scores of pages to reach the same conclusion.)

[Click here, o, reader!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

12 Days of Lovecraft: “The Haunter of the Dark”

So I was going to peek beyond the wall of sleep today, but, having peeked behind it, there’s not much of a story there: inbred hick appears to be possessed by a creature who soars in realms of light and fights an elusive enemy whilst the hillbilly sleeps, and our narrator just happens to have a telepathy machine handy that allows him to meet this creature. And that’s about it. Not particularly interesting and definitely not scary or horrifying.

So if we’re not peering beyond the wall of sleep, let’s look over in the corner at “The Haunter of the Dark.”

The Story

A writer in Providence (wonder if he resembles anyone we know?) named Robert Blake apparently can’t keep his eye on the sparrow (note to readers under forty years old:  that’s a Baretta joke) (and yes, I know, if you have to explain the joke, you probably shouldn’t make it) and stares at this church steeple across town and becomes obsessed with it. He ventures across town and, after some difficulty, finds the disused church and decides to break in despite the warning of the superstitious Italians who live nearby.

[Click here to learn what horrors Robert Blake uncovers!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

12 Days of Lovecraft: “The Thing on the Doorstep”

Well, it’s been an exhausting time touring through New England and its collection of horrors beyond human comprehension. Let’s spend a relaxing evening at home, and perhaps receive a visit from an old friend! Wait a minute…that’s not our friend…why that’s…“The Thing on The Doorstep”!

The Story:

Our narrator opens by averring (yeah, I’ve been reading a lot of Lovecraft, so watch me pull out my SAT words!) that though he may have shot his friend, he is not his murderer. I’m hooked! He goes on to tell the sad tale of one Edward Derby, a strange, bookish lad who delves into dark occult studies with a crew of decadent college students much younger than himself.

[But how does our bookish friend wind up as a mere thing? Follow me, reader!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

12 Days of Lovecraft: “The Colour Out of Space”

Today we journey to another out-of-the-way New England town, where, strangely, the inhabitants don’t seem to have any inherent genetic deficiencies due to racial impurity or inbreeding.

I know! Weird, right? [Read the story here.]

The Story:

Our narrator, out surveying for the new reservoir that’s going to emerge when a bunch of towns are intentionally flooded, (note: this part really happened), finds a native of one of the towns who tells him the tale of the decades-old Strange Days, in which his town was visited….by a colour out of space.

[Journey beyond for spoilers and smartassery!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

12 Days of Lovecraft: “The Dunwich Horror”

Greetings from scenic Dunwich, Massachusetts, home of degenerate inbreds, a few standing stones, and unspeakable horrors from beyond! Read it here.

The Story:

Dunwich, a New England backwater populated chiefly by degenerate inbreds, is shocked when a “somewhat deformed” albino woman gives birth to a dark,  goatish son who proceeds to grow and mature at superhuman rates.

[Read More—if ye dare!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

12 Days of Lovecraft: “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”

Today we visit scenic Innsmouth, Massachusetts, where the men are men…well, sort of, anyway, for “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

The Story:

Our narrator, displaying the near-fatal lack of common sense that afflicts so many horror protagonists, decides to ignore the advice of the locals and go explore Innsmouth, Massachusetts, an isolated seaside town accessible only by a single rickety bus. The town and its funny-looking inhabitants are described in excruciating detail, and our hero is surprised, though we of course are not, when his plan to get out of town before dark is foiled and he’s forced to spend the night in this increasingly creepy setting.

[If nautical nonsense (and spoilers) be something you wish, read on!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

12 Days of Lovecraft: “The Call of Cthulhu”

Let’s start our romp through 12 of Uncle Howard’s stories with one of his most celebrated, influential, and problematic, “The Call of Cthulhu.”

The Story:

Ostensibly found amongst the papers of the late Francis Wayland Thurston of Boston, “The Call of Cthulhu” begins with the narrator poring over the papers left by his late uncle (who died suddenly after being jostled by that most ominous and horrific of persons, “a nautical-looking Negro.”).

[Here be spoilers!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

12 Days of Lovecraft

Uncle Howard has gone respectable. He’s got nice trade paperback editions with classy covers, one of which is edited by Joyce Carol Oates, a writer actually best known for her non-genre work. He’s also got a Library of America hardcover edition, complete with classy font and black and white photo of his lengthy visage.

This represents a real triumph for Lovecraft’s work. When I came to it in the early 80s, I only knew of it from reading Stephen King’s Danse Macabre, and when you could find it at all, it was only in Del Rey editions with covers that looked like a metal album. (Still in print, and still with awesome metal-ish cover art!) Now H.P. and the Old Ones are oozing their way into the literary canon, which means, figuratively speaking for those of us who love speculative fiction, the neighbors are coming over.

[More after the fold!]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

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