Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.200: The Fortean Times

The August edition of the Fortean Times contains a great article by James Holloway on Lovecraft and archaeology, importantly touching upon the politics of archaeology and history in relation to how those disciplines have often shored-up notions of racial, cultural and national identity: issues not only of central concern to Lovecraft, but which also toxically underpin many modern forms of occult- and conspiracy-inflected revisionist history and pseudo-archaeology - and which, more widely, continue to inform expressions of ethno-nationalistic chauvenism and supremacy in the contemporary, post-colonial world.

On a lighter note, James also hosts Monster Man, an excellent weekly podcast surveying classic D&D bestiaries (I’m hoping that when he’s done with D&D, he’ll move on to Runequest and Call of Cthulhu). Monster Man can be found on iTunes and here, you can support James’ podcast here, and you can find his Gonzo History blogs - both standard and gaming editions - here and here. If that wasn’t enough, you can also purchase a Kindle edition of James’ Lovecraftian historical novel of vikings encountering the Cthulhu mythos, The Barest Branch, for only two of your finest British pounds from Amazon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.199: The Quietened Bunker

I’m not sure whether this qualifies as ‘Lovecraftian’ in a strict sense of the term, but A Year in the Country’s audio release, The Quietened Bunker, certainly resonates with some of the Cold War-related Lovecraftiana discussed in previous posts - and with similar tropes which were interwoven into last year’s slice of daily Lovecraftian folk horror, The Horsingdon Transmissions

The Quietened Bunker is an eerie aural exploration of the many abandoned underground installations whose presence throughout the British landscape continue to evoke the spectre of nuclear apocalypse - hollow, hauntological signifiers of a very particular class of nihilistic Cold War dread which afflicted the UK from the 1950s until the early 1980s, shaping popular forms of Lovecraft-inflected speculative media in the UK from Quatermass to classic-era Doctor Who. 

Aside from which, the CD upon which The Quientened Bunker is recorded is a lovely, glossy black - which makes for a great scrying mirror. Although you might not like what you see within.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.198: The Blasphemous Tome, Issue 2.

There has been a delightful resurgence in fanzines in the last few years - in particular within the tabletop rpg community. Back in the day, these constituted a kind of pre-internet, grassroots form of social networking amongst gamers, and could be purchased by mail-order, directly from the producers at gaming cons, and even from Games Workshop stores (indeed, gaming zines used to be advertised in White Dwarf back in the day). Titles of these classic rpg zines variec from the sublime to the weird, with perhaps my favourite being Tempestuous Orifice.

The new breed of ‘zines, whilst representing a return to the DIY mentality, tend to be of a more professional cast (as a result of the virtual ubiquity of desk-top publshing software these days), and ate often tied to forms of digital media such as podcasting (which I think is, in many respects, the digital descendants of the ‘zine mentality).

Indeed, today’s offering - issur 2 of The Blasphemous Tome - is the analogue, hardcopy offspring of one of the Ghooroc Zone’s favourite podcasts, The Good Friends of Jackson Elias. Whilst the Blasphemous Tome takes the Call of Cthulhu rpg as its prime focus, it also engages (as with its parent podcadt) more widely with Lovecraftian media - and in this respect is reminiscent of the now-legendary Lovcraftian ‘zine, Dagon. Whilst The Blasphemous Tome is only available to patreon backers of The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, you can pick up annual edition by backing said podcast for the paltry sum of $1 a month. Go on you know you want to!

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.197: Dr Chuck Tingle’s Guide to the Void

‘Throughout history, philosophers, scientists and artists has all attempted to quantify The Void in a way that can be understood by the limited brains of human beings, bigfeet, dinosaurs and unicorns...In fact, any attempts to fully grasp the complex nature of The Void should be done so under extremely limited circumstances...Those who’ve gotten too close to fully reckoning The Void have had their minds collapse in a devastating moment of cosmic horror, consumed but the existential darkness of this supernatural abyss’.
Thus begins Dr Chuck Tingle’s Guide to The Void - simultaneously a cosmological travel guide, a bestiary, a philosophical disquisition, and a self-help book delineating the wonders and terrors of the zone of nihilistic Lovecaftian horror which exists outside of the multilayered timelines of the Tingleverse, and which is antithetical to all that is represented by the Tingularity (the conceptual centre of the Tingleverse).

Here we find the realm of Void Crabs, Worms, Shrieking Masses (of which the best known example is Domald Tromp), Bubbling Horrors, Greater Cosmic Horrors, and other monstrous beings; notably, Dr Tingle reveals that devilmen also have their origin in The Void - needles to say, I have now come to the conclusion that Chuck Tingle’s neighbour, devilman Ted Cobbler, is most likely a manifestation of one of Nyarlathotep’s Thousand Forms.

There is wisdom here too, especially regarding the call of the lonesome train - which we must all board one day - and which those who dwell in close proximity of The Void are more likely to hear:
‘Usually arriving late at night, the call of the lonesome train is what keeps us up and is also a normal part of life. The fear that we feel when we hear the train’s call is part of what motivates us to accomplish, build, and love throughout our timeline. Unfortunately, there are many buckaroos who find the call of the lonesome train arriving earlier and earlier in the evening, until eventually it is pulling up to the station throughout their day. This is a devastating way to live, and any buckaroos who finds themselves in this situation should seek professional help immediately...although it may seem hopeless at times, there are a few proven ways to make slight adjustments to the train’s schedule. Sometimes being with your friends and loved ones can cause the call of the lonesome train to drift by much fainter than before, and sometimes it won’t even cruise past at all.’

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.196: Some Notes on a Nonentity

Sam Gafford and Jason C. Eckhardt’s biography of Lovecaft - presented in graphic novel form (and inspired by Lovecraft’s own autobiographical piece, Some Notes on a Nonentity) - was first made available by PS Publishing at NecronomiCon 2017. Unfortunately there were only a limited number available at the event, and I wasn’t able to secure a copy then - but picked one up directly from PS shortly afterwards.

This is a charming, poignant piece - even if it does occasionally gloss over some of the less savoury aspects of Lovecraft’s character - and Eckhardt’s artwork does a wonderful job of illustrating Lovecraft’s inner, visionary life. A strong recommend, and deserving of a place in the library of dedicated Lovecraftians.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.195: Shotgun Dude vs Deep Ones and Shoggoth

This group of Deep Ones, accompanied by a Shoggoth, were painted by me a good few years ago in anticipation of using them in a Cthulhu mythos-themed game of Chain Reaction (Two Hour Wargames’ solitaire-friendly miniatures wargame); indeed, rules for incorporating mythos entities into games of Chain Reaction were included in issue 45 of Ragnarok: The Journal of Fantasy and Science Fiction Wargaming. Facing the Deep Ones and Shoggoth is a lone dude with a shotgun - seems like a fair fight....

Sadly, I have yet to utilise these miniatures in said game.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.194: Faunus and Machenalia

It is always a pleasure and delight to receive Faunus and Machenalia - the journal and newsletter which the Friends of Arthur Machen produce twice-yearly; the Spring 2018 editions landed on my doorstep ths morning. This edition of Faunus has a lovely orange cover, and contains both a republication of Aleister Crowley’s review of Machen’s The Terror, as well as a piece by James Machin on Crowley and Machen.

As always, if you have an abiding intetest in Machen, please do join the Friend of Arthur Machen - which you can do here for a meagre twenty-five of your finest pre-Brexit British pounds.