Monday, October 03, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.277: Doctor Who - A History of the Universe

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.

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