Monday, October 31, 2016
As this Monday is both my regular solitaire gaming night as well as Hallowe'en, I thought the above item would serve as an appropriate offering for tonight's post: Pagan Publishing's solitaire scenario for the Call of Cthulhu rpg, Alone On Hallowe'en. Shortly I will be playing this for an hour or two before settling in for a few spooky movies. Happy Hallowe'een!
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.304: Dead But Dreaming - The Great Old Ones of Lovecraftian Legend Reinterpreted as Atlantean Kings
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Walter Bosley's Empire of the Wheel series maps out a terrain increasingly popular within contemporary conspiracy culture - that of a 'breakaway civilization' (a concept which I think has its origin in the 'Alternative 3' conspiracy of the 1970s). In brief, this maintains that a group within the wider society has developed or acquired access to advanced forms of technology which usually allow them to set up an alternative society in some secret location - typically on the Moon or Mars, but sometimes in the Hollow Earth. Said breakaway civilization may, nonetheless, maintain links with mainstream Earthly nation-states, but usually in the role of hidden overlords. In current conspiratorial circles, this often ties in with the notion of a 'secret space programme' - or the idea that the military-industrial complex or the New World Order or somesuch has already built bases on the Moon and colonised Mars as a preliminary to ultimately enslaving the rest of humanity. Inevitably, this tends to lead back to the Nazis having developed flying saucer technology as early as the 1930s, having come into contact with extraterrestrial or extradimensional beings using occult means.
Bosley's work is of particular interest to me as it constitutes the connective tissue which ties these narratives - which often involve implicit Lovecraftian themes with regard to ancient interdimensional beings, occult technologies snd hyperdimensional physics - with Lovecraft himself. In this instance, Lovecraft actually appears as a character central to Bosley's parapolitical speculations. Whilst I still haven't quite got my head around exactly what it is that Bosley is pointing to, here he alleges that Lovecraft was complicit in the murder of Houdini at the behest of Cthulhuvian 'Nameless Ones', which have some sort of connection to a breakaway civilization.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Nick Redfern's cryptozoological opus There's Something In The Woods offers more by way of Lovecraftian paranormalism, employing as it does August Derleth's novel The Lurker on the Threshold as a kind of framing device for his particular brand of monster-hunting. Here Redfern includes quotes from Lurker to introduce each chapter of the book; even better, he goes further toward embedding contemporary paranormal beliefs within a Cthulhuvian framework with the following:
'Did Derleth perhaps uncover some horrific secret about frightful beasts, other realms of existence and ancient rite and ritual in darkest Madison, Wisconsin all those years ago? Almost four decades have now passed since Derleth’s death and so we may never know the full story. I do not rule out the possibility, however, that perhaps the answers that I [...] and so many other investigators of mysterious creatures seek, may well have been known to a long-dead novelist who took some of his unsettling secrets to the grave, but who also elected to present at least a part of his arcane knowledge in fictional form within the pages of The Lurker at the Threshold.'
Redfern's basis for such claims? Some of the things presented in Lurker are a bit like some other reported paranormal phenomena; in addition to which, Lurker mentions Fort. From this, Redfern infers that Derleth might have known more than he was letting on (the possibility that Derleth may have been using Fort and other accounts of supposedly-paranormal phenomena as the basis for his fictions isn't really given serious consideration). It's difficult here to feel sympathetic towards Redfern's work in the face of a rather inept attempt to by-pass critical thinking; indeed, this use of inferentially-rhetorical questions is an overused device that remains sadly typical of many paranormal writers. That said, I have a soft-spot for Redfern's work, insofar as his books move at a briskly-entertaining pace, which is made all the more fun because of his not-infrequent cojoining of the Cthulhu Mythos to contemporary paranormalist narratives
Thursday, October 27, 2016
As the title of his book suggests, William Michael Mott's Caverns, Cauldrons, and Concealed Creatures brings together an exploration of of 'Hollow Earth mysteries' with speculations upon the wilder hinterlands of cryptozoology. In the latter instance, not only Lovecraft but Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and Lin Carter all get a mention, with numerous inferences that the very existence of the Cthulhu Mythos lets on that Lovecraft knew more than he was willing to say about the strange dwellers within the inner Earth whose existence Mott seeks to prove here. Seems legit.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Peter Kolosimo offers some wonderfully Lovecraftian-tinged archaeological revisionism in Not Of This World: a classic of late 1960s - 70s ancient mysteries literature, which constitutes part of what Mark Fisher has elsewhere refered to as 'pulp archaeology', and wherein a heady mix of unfounded speculation and stigmatised knowledge crash headfirst into the Cthulhu Mythos, laying the foundations of the kind of Cthulhuvian pop-cultural hyperreal paranormalism that today permeates the digital realm. Notably Not Of This World has a chapter titled 'Gentlemen of the Deep' which references Lovecraft in support of evidence of giant aquatic humanoids, whilst chapter 6 explicitly riffs on At The Mountains of Madness by suggesting the existence of ancient alien civilizations in Antarctica. Nice.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Neal Wilgus The Illuminoids is something of an odd footnote in the niche world of Lovecraftian esoterica, but this attempt at welding together various strands of conspiratorial lore makes a few interesting references to Lovecraft and his creations - notably the claim in a timeline of conspiracy 'history' in the second part of the book that in 1915 the 'first recording of the Outer Ones from Yuggoth' occured, along with the charge that Yog Sothoth might be the power behind the Illuminati. Wilgus' book also offers an early example of an author speculating about possible links between the Cthulhu Mythos and von Daniken's ancient astronaut hypothesis which Jason Colavito has explored in greater detail. That said, mention of Lovecraft is unsurprising here as Wilgus seems to be taking his lead from Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! trilogy, which also weaves both Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos into its conspiratorial melange. Indeed, Wilson not only provides an introduction to the book, but manages a throwaway reference to Lovecraft on the first page. The waters are further muddied as Wilgus' own introduction leaves things open as to whether The Illuminoids should be taken seriously or whether it is a tour de force in the vein of - if not outright cashing in on - Shea and Wilson's work.
Monday, October 24, 2016
This is a bit of an oddity which I don't know much about. I picked it up from The House on the Borderland, a specialist bookshop in Peterborough, UK, which has long since closed its doors. It contains a couple of moderately interesting articles by J. Vernon Shea, and quite a nice comic adaptation of The Hound. That's it for now as I'm off to see friend of Ghooric Zone Phine Hine give a talk on Richard Payne Knight and ancient phallic imagery at Conway Hall. Nice.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Today's post presents another guest offering by way of the esoteric artwork of Maria Strutz, who kindly sent me these images of a good few months ago (apologies, Maria, for taking so long to post them!). I really like the colour palette which Maria has used in these representations of Cthulhu, as it is atypical of what one usually encounters in Lovecraftian art and, for me, aids in further emphasising the weirdly otherworldly/inhuman character of the subject matter. More of Maria's work can be found here.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
More Mythos Miniature Madness today with the Mighty Cthugrosh, Lord of Cthul! All two inches of him/her/it.This comes from Privateer Press' (now discontinued) pre-painted miniature game of giant stompy robots battling giant slimy monsters, Monsterpocalypse!, in which the Lords of Cthul were the now-requisite-in-gaming Lovecraft faction. This predated del Toro's Pacific Rim by a good few years, and indeed Monsterpocalypse! was optioned for a movie to which apparently Tim Burton was attached. In any case, this is a rather nice mini - it makes a change form the more traditionally-anthropomorphic sculpts you tend to findvwith Cthulhu minis these days. While the prepaint work is actually rather good, I'll be rebasing, repainting and repurposing this as replacements to the awful Star Spawn of Cthulhu sculpts found in the 2nd edition of Fantasy Flight Games' Mansions of Madness.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Someone who has been absent from these pages for far too long is Wilum H. Pugmire - Lovecraftian prose-poet extraordinaire. Today I present Pugmire's Monstrous Aftermath: Stories in the Lovecraftian Tradition, which also contains one of my favourite of his pieces: Some Unknown Gulf of Night - a series of prose vignettes based on Lovecraft's Fungi from Yuggoth sonnet cycle. Nice.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Concluding a veritable Kleinian trilogy of terror, today's offering is The Events at Poroth Farm - one of T.E.D Klein's earliest works, and the short story that was to form the basis for his monumental The Ceremonies. I picked my chapbook copy (illustrated by Jason Eckhardt) from a specialist bookshop (The House on the Borderland in Peterborough, UK) in the early 1990s (although the story was first published in 1972). Whilst it is a bit raw around the edges, this is still great stuff - fortunately it is also available in Kindle/ebook format in the Cthulhu Mythos Megapack via Amazon.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
A follow up to 1984's The Ceremonies, T.E.D. Klein's Dark Gods collects four of the author's short stories/novellas. The first of which, Petey, is another classic of modern weird fiction. I believe that an early draft contained a few Lovecraftian references, but to be honest the tale works better without them. Whilst Petey's premise is fairly straightfoward (a sorcerer's familiar comes looking for its master), Klein nonetheless manages to spin this into a tale of creeping dread by the slow and careful weaving of an intrusion of something utterly otherworldly into the prosaic fabric of middle-class urbanity.
Black Man With A Horn is (as far as I am aware) Klein's one and only addition to the Cthulhu Mythos. It is also one of those rare gems of Mythos fare that achieves literary status. Exploring themes of old age, loss and regret, here the Mythos is revealed - both subtly but realistically - within the interstices of a life lived in Lovecraft's shadow when an ethnological exhibit reveals a horrifying reality lurking behind 'the Master's' fiction.
Like The Ceremonies, The Children of the Kingdom is a further paean to Machen, this time artfully relocating his 'Little People' mythology to the centre of metropolitan modernity, but also playing on inferences found in Machen's The Shining Pyramid and The Novel of the Black Seal in a particularly shocking manner.
Of the four tales, Nadelman's God is the one I least remember; as a consequence I don't have much to say about it here other than it warrants a further perusal on my part before I make any final judgement. Regardless, though, Dark Gods is another classic of modern weird fiction from a writer who is, sadly for us readers, far from prolific - but whose work thus constitutes a rare vintage worth savouring.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Probably of the best weird novels of the late 20th Century, T.ED. Klein's The Ceremonies is about to see a new re-release in hardback from PS Publishing. More Machen than Lovecraft (at a push The Ceremonies could be almost be treated as a kind of sequel to Machen's The White People), the novel does, nonetheless contain a strong thread of cosmicism running through it, and is a must-read if you are new to weird fiction or haven't yet encountered this. Sadly, this is the only novel Klein has thusfar published, although (and I may be misremembering this) I seem to recall that S.T. Joshi mentioned recently that Klein has finally returned to finishing his long-anticipated second novel Night Town...
Monday, October 17, 2016
I've just been listening to the larest podcast edition of the Lovecraft eZine show where the topic was Lovecraftian films available to stream, and was reminded of Die Farbe, an adaptation of The Colour Out of Space (and one of the better Lovecraftian movies out there). The Colour Out of Space highlights one of the key difficulties of translating Lovecraft's work Into a visual medium, insofar as his tales often deal with that which is both inconceivable and unrepresentable (although this is open to question, given the detailed desriptions he sometimes provides for his monsters). In any case, Die Farbe addresses the problem of how to show a previously unknown colour in a rather original manner. Definitely wort watching.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Modiphius' Achtung! Cthulhu WW2 setting (for both Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds) provides another massive 350+ page Antarctic campaign setting where we return, once again to the Mountsins of Madness - in this instance to try and stop Nazi occultists calling up something very nasty and world changing indeed. in sctual fact, Assault on the Mountsins of Madness adheres fairly closely to key plot elements found in Chaosium's Beyond the Mountsins of Madness - although in this instance the denouement feels a little closer to what Lovecraft infers in the original work. The book is beautifully produced in full colour, and contains some amazing and awe-inspiring art. Even so, the pulpiness of the Achtung! Cthulhu setting doesn't quite fit with the bleak cosmicism of AtMoM, and as a consequence the feel of the piece doesn't entirely live up to what some of the art suggests. However, this is less the fault of Modiphius' excellent efforts, and more a consequence of the roleplaying medium, which I'm still not entirely convinced is an oeuvre capable of replicating the mood and feel of Lovecraft's writing.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness is not only my favourite of Lovecraft's work, but I consider it to be a landmark in weird fiction. As an avid roleplayer (at least back in the day), news that Chaosium were releasing a massive Antarctic campaign which effectively functioned as a sequel AtMoM meant that this was an automatic purchase. Indeed, Beyond the Mountsins of Madness is a formidable piece of rpg writing at 400+ pages in length, with lots of incredibly well-researched information detailing the minutiae of polar expeditions of the period - not forgetting an attempt to tie in various of Lovecraft's influences (notably Poe and Roerich) into the campaign's narrative - this has all the makings of an rpg classic. An, indeed, it has every right to be considered as such. However, Beyond the Mountains of Madness ultimately highlights for me the limitations of rpgs as a medium within which to replicate the experience of reading Lovecraft; but, in fairness, this is not what playing rpgs are about. Even so, I ultimately found the denouement of this campaign to be a disappointment. Indeed, I had anticipated this on beginning my initial read of the book, insofar as I knew that it could never offer, as a player experience, anything comparable to what AtMoM suggests in its final paragraphs. Indeed, the book's explanation as to exactly what lies within the needle-like peaks beyond those Mountsins of Madness falls short of what Lovecraft himself indicates in one of his letter. Yet, whilst a failure on this sccount, Beyond the Mountains of Madness remains a marvellous snd rematkable one at that. Bravo.
Friday, October 14, 2016
I'm massively busy again at the moment, so things may be brief (not to say uninteresting over the next week or so). Regardless, today's offering is Realms of Cthulhu, an implementation of the Call of Cthulhu rpg for the Savage Worlds engine. This was something I'd been anticipating for awhile when it came out a few years back, and overall, I do like it as a Savage Worlds iteration of the Chaosium classic. That said, Savage Worlds has as its tagline 'fast, furious, fun', and Realms of Cthulhu, in trying to slavishly replicate elements of its pregenitor, does get bogged down in overcomplications where the sanity rules are concerned; indeed, those rules are split across two distinct parts of the book, with no cross-referencing (so until I'd read it in its entirety, it seemed as if the sanity rules were incomplete). Also, the included scenarios aren't that great, with one locating an Eskimo population in Antarctica, and (SPOILER ALERT) involving the face-palming silliness of fur-covered Deep Ones. Also, ghouls cause much more sanity loss than a shoggoth. That said, the book looks great, and these few hiccups aside it is a very solid implementation of the Savage Worlds system for CoC - such that I'm planning on using it for a forthcoming personal gaming project.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Properly speaking Howardian, but Lovecraftian by association: today I present The Savage World of Solomon Kane - a gorgeously-produced full-colour rpg of adventure and supernatural horror based upon the world of Robert E. Howard's eponymous Puritan hero. Appropriately, the game is powered by the Savage Worlds engine - possibly my favourite rpg system of all time and ideal for simulating a bit of old-school pulp action. I was hoping that Pinnacle (who published this) were going to be in line for the Conan rpg license as well; sadly that was not to be. However, Modiphius (who also produce the wonderfully titled Achtung! Cthulhu setting - more of which later) look to be doing a very fine job in that respect. But enough of this prattle! I'm off to strap on a brace of pistols, sharpen my blade, and prepare to kick-ass in the pursuit of righteous vengeance.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
I'm conflicted about this. As a huge fan of Ramsey Campbell's Brichester Mythos tales, I was wildly excited about this attempt at translating them into a setting for the Call of Cthulhu rpg. Unfortunately, the execution didn't quite match the expectation. It's not that Ramsey Campbell's Goatswood is all bad, but the first section does comes across as a workmanlike - and at times lifeless - process of just adding appropriate stats to Campbell's creations. This may seem a little unfair, as effectively that's the job of rpg supplements; except for the fact that some go the extra mile and establish a standard against which its difficult not to judge other work. Delta Green (which does Campbell's mythos greater justice even in the process of transforming it) being a case in point. In addition to which, Goatswood followed a range of very good Chaosium supplements covering Lovecraft Country (Arkham, Dunwich, Kingsport and Innsmouth). Granted that in these instances the writers took liberties with Lovecraft's creations, but they often did so in engaging and interesting ways, also managing to maintain something of the Lovecraftian feel of those locales.
Except for his generous introduction, Campbell's influence seems oddly distant in the Goatwood supplement - and completely missing in some of its scenario. But, to give it its due, I still have a soft spot for Goatswood and retain a ghostly replica of it in pdf format (even if disappointment caused me to sell my hardcopy some years back). It's not even that the writing is bad; just that it feels rushed, with a bunch of mismatched scenarios jammed together rather badly into the approximation of a campaign-shaped hole. The art, overall, is rather nice and quite evocative, even if this also marks the point when Chaosium's production values begin to take a downward turn (the maps are very weak, and no sign of a long-hoped for fold-out map of Brichester). In many respects a missed opportunity - although I'd like to believe that Chaosium might return to this for 7th ed. Call of Cthulhu to bring us the book we deserve.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
A while back Prof. McKittrick of Miskatonic University forwarded me a parcel containing artefacts relating to the disasterous and ill-rumoured 1931 M.U. geological expedition to Antarctica. Included is a sketch of one of the crinoid fossils allegedly unearthed by expedition members, a curious star-shaped stone, along with a bas-relief extracted from one of the structures which the expedition supposedly discovered. Even more remarkable is the small phial included in the package marked as containing a sample of shoggoth tissue. The fact that a source as reliable as Alhazred vehemently denied the existence of shoggoths on this planet leads me to speculate that the sample is not genuine - indeed to think otherwise opens up terrifying possibilities regarding humanity's future - and indeed that of all Earthly life as we know it - that are best left uncontemplated...
But just to be on the safe side, I shall be dedicating a very special corner of my sanctum sanctorum for the protection and warding of this particular item.
Monday, October 10, 2016
This one has been a long time coming. Not only do I consider the original Delta Green suplement for the Call of Cthulhu rpg one of the best rpg supplements of all time, but also one of the best and most horrifying iterations of Lovecraft's vision. Think the Cthulhu Mythos meets The X-Files (which the Delta Green setting predates), but with a heavy emphasis on a nihilistic exploration of contemporary conspiracy lore, and using the raid on Innsmouth as a starting point for various covert government agencies engagement with the forces of the Mythos. The Delta Green setting has also spawned a number of novels and anthologies, which are uniformly excellent and represent some of the very best contributions to contemporary Lovecraftian literature. A number of other rpg supplements have also been produced in the series, including my favourite, Delta Green: Countdown, which integrates Ramsey Campbell's Brichester Mythos into the Delta Green world. Even if you are not a roleplayer, the rpg supplements are still worth reading because they are excellently written, and because the background fluff is absolutely terrifying. Perhaps more terrifying is that real-world conspiracy theorists have been treating elements of the Delta Green universe as genuine - but then we live in a world in which Donald Trump is treated as a viable presidential candidate and people voted for Brexit...
Arc Dream have just published the first volumes of a new edition of Delta Green which updates the setting for the post-9/11 world, whilst the older material is available as purchasable downloads from DriveThruRPG.com. In any case, if you buy it now you might just have time to read it all before a man with an orange face and bad comb-over gets his chubby little hands on the nuclear codes.
Sunday, October 09, 2016
The Pathfinder rpg - based on the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition rule - is notable for its inclusion of a good number of elements taken from the Cthulhu Mythos. Shown here are a few pre-painted minatures of Mythos entities (Nightgaunt, Gug and Moonbeast) that have been produced for the Pathfinder system, and which I plan to repaint and repurposes for the Strange Aeons Lovecraftian miniatures skirmish game.
Saturday, October 08, 2016
I recently received this unsolicited item with a covering letter - supposedly from Prof. Ferdinand C. Stanley of Miskatonic University. According to the missive, the object was uncovered at a Mesoamerican site (location undisclosed) during what appear to be an archaeological expedition of dubious legality. Apparently the professor has had some trouble sleeping since he came into possession of the idol. Well, some things are occulted because they ought not to be revealed, and in this instance it seems that the good Professor has been digging in places where he should not have digged - and in doing so has called up that which he lacks the power to put down. I believe there is a moral in there somewhere. In any case, I suspect that there is little that can be done now for the Professor - indeed, I prefer not to dwell on the awefulness of his fate. But for the sake and sanity of the rest of humanity (for what little time we have left on this little backwater planet), I will do everything in my power to ensure that this strange little three-eyed idol shall henceforth be forever hidden from human sight.
Friday, October 07, 2016
Mythos Tales was a Kickstarter I backed and which appeared on my doorstep today. It's a very nice looking Cthulhu Mythos-themed iteration of the classic Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective solo/co-operative game, involving investigative clue-solving of various Lovecraftian mysteries. Where the parent game comes with a map of Victorian London keyed to the investigations players undertake, this one comes with a very nice colour map of Arkham which looks rather frameable. I anticipate that this will be hitting my table during next Monday night's scheduled solitaire gaming session.
Thursday, October 06, 2016
Peter Rawlik's Reanimatrix appeared in my Kindle app the other day - I've been looking forward to this (even though I'd forgotten that I'd preordered it) for quite some time. Reanimatrix forms the third in a series of novels (beginning with Reanimators and continuing with The Weird Company) which are effectively interlinking all of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos and Arkham cycle tales (as well as playfully introducing other literary and cinematic characters into the mix). Whilst I find that Rawlik's excellent short stories tend toward a more literary weird vein, The Weird Company novels have a distinctly pulpy feel - and I mean that in a good way! I mean, not only does Reanimatrix have a wonderfully noirish cover, but what's not to love in a novel whose byline is 'he could only love a DEAD woman!'? Here's hoping that Lovecraft and Eddy's 'The Loved Dead' gets a mention.
Wednesday, October 05, 2016
All Consuming Fire, written by Andy Lane and published by Virgin Books in 1994, was one of the early novels in which the 7th Doctor has a run in with the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos (White Darkness, published in 1993, was the first to do so). I have, however, only just discovered that All Consuming Fire has recently been adapted as an audio drama - starring Sylvester McCoy - as part of Big Finish's extensive catalogue of Whovian audio. So, without more ado I plan to download this and listen as the Doctor joins forces with Sherlock Holmes (of course!) to go head-to-head with Azathoth. Nice.
As an addendum, Big Finish also offer at least two other Whovian dramas involving the Mythos: another McCoy outing in Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge (which I've yet to listen to, but sounds as if it may be more of a playful pastiche of Mythos themes and tropes), as well as Peter Davison reprising the 5th Doctor's role in Roof of the World (battling Great Old Ones in Tibet).
Tuesday, October 04, 2016
A guilty pleasure of mine is reading Warhammer 40K and Horus Heresy novels; those familiar with the 40K universe will be aware that it includes more than a few nods to Lovecraft: ancient aliens in the dep background (actually called 'The Old Ones'), hyperdimensional realms inhabited by monstrous, alien beings, as well as the fusing of science and sorcery. Dark Heresy, the Warhammer 40K rpg (which was in part written/designed by Chaosium stalwart Mike Mason), contains echoes of the Call of Cthulhu rpg in its focus on investigating dark cults and reality-twisting horrors. Games Workshop's stable of writers have also produced Cthulhu Mythos novels for Fantasy Flight's Arkham Horror fiction series. However, there also exist a number of Horus Heresy novels and short stories (which detail the foundational events of the 40K universe) which appear to explicitly link 40K to the Cthulhu Mythos. Graham McNeill's A Thousand Sons has the space marine sorcerer lords of the planet Prospero consult various forbidden occult tones, including The Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan (or Hzan in the novel); in addition to which, a statue of 'the mad scholar Alhazred' has been erected in one of the planet's cities. The Hall of Leng - found in the region of the Himalayas on Earth - is also mentioned (and in another story - Dan Abnett's Blood Games - it is described as being built upon a primordial and unearthly site of strange angles, and where the past and future co-mingle). Maybe not conclusive evidence that 40K is part of the Cthulhu Mythos, but a further indication of Lovecraft's profound influence upon popular genre fare.
Monday, October 03, 2016
Today's entry kicks off a short series which looks at how Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos have wended their way into a number of intellectual properties demonstrating - by way of Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton family - that potentially all sci-fi/fantasy/horror/genre properties are part of Lovecraft's fictive universe, ergo Lovecraft pretty much invented modern genre media!
Doctor Who presented me with my first genuine experience of horror when, at around the age of 5, I was terrified by the (appropriately Lovecraftian) sight of giant maggots squirming in a pool of glowing green slime in tne classic Pertwee era story The Green Death. I have been a fan of Doctor Who since (or at least classic Who - of the new guard, I only really liked Matt Smith; Capaldi should have been amazing, but his tenure has been blighted by poor writing, bad characterisation, and terrible stories).
Perhaps controversially, Sylvester McCoy's 7th Doctor is my favourite - and not in some ironic, hipsterish way. Whilst McCoy's inhabiting of the Doctor's role got off to a very shaky start (to say the least), later stories re-instantiated the dark storylines of earlier incarnations, during which McCoy's previously-impish Doctor transformed into a brooding, master-manipulator playing out a dangerous game on a cosmic stage in which, effectively, he was opposing Old One-like beings. The Lovecraft connection was made explicit in the licenced novels which continued the 7th Doctor's story in the aftermath of the tv series cancellation (more of which in later posts). Today's offering - Lance Parkin's Doctor Who: A History of the Universe - consolidates and systematises various of these sources to provide a timeline for the Whovian universe, the centre of which, as revealed in the early chapters of the book, is the Doctor's ongoing campaign against the alien cosmic evil of Yog-Sothoth, Hastur, Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath, Dagon and the like. These elements have also been occasionally worked into new Who: The Infinite Quest - an animated series produced for the BBC and starring David Tennant - makes explicit reference to 'the Great Old Ones'; I also seem to recall that the Great Intelligence, which in the 7th Doctor novels is identified with Yog-Sothoth, is given the appropriate appellation of 'Eater of Souls' in one episode of the revived tv series. There were also a few Lovecraftian elements to Lovecraftian in the Torchwood spin-off. In any case, you will be able to find plenty of online discussion regarding the Lovecraft-Whovian connection elsewhere, but the Parkin volume firmly positions both Whovian and Lovecraftian iniverse as occupying the same space.
Sunday, October 02, 2016
In today's offering (which appeared through my letter box yesterday via PS Publishing), Ramsey Campbell returns to Brichester and the Severn Valley in the first of a new trilogy of Cthulhu Mythos novels, The Searching Dead. Oh yes.
Saturday, October 01, 2016
What better way to celebrate the beginning of our autumnal journey into the October Country than with today's quaint and curious volume? Join me and others in the annual ritual of reading a chapter a day of A Night in the Lonesome October: Roger Zelazny's marvellously entertaining Hallowe'en novel in which notorious historical figures join forces with some of the greats of genre literature (and their familiars) in seeking to either facilitate or thwart the return of the Great Old Ones on 31st October - all told from the perspective of Jack the Ripper's dog, Snuff, and accompanied by 31 fantastic illustrations by Gahan Wilson. Alternatively, you can listen to the unabridged audiobook read by Zelazny himself.