If I Were King
There has been considerable enthusiasm and nearly universal approval of the idea that Guillermo del Toro might direct At the Mountains of Madness. Typical of my contrarian disposition, I raise a flag. This is based on the objectionable job he did on Hellboy, also widely praised. While the movie began with the wonderful atmospherics of a rain storm, this was quickly dissipated by the appearance of the Hellboy character, whose infernal cuteness and wisecracking destroy a sense of menace and the sinister. At the end his talking to the cosmic, tentacled monster in a cheeky style enervates the terror that should be inspired. While other del Toro films have been successful if non-Lovecraftian, it is Hellboy I'm judging him by.
Since I find fault in del Toro as an interpreter of Lovecraft, who would I elect? If I was an omnipotent producer, able to select any director I would for whatever Lovecraft work I thought appropriate, here is my list of names of some living artists, why they are on it, and the two works I would assign. In the interests of democracy I have usually chosen an early HPL story and a later one. From his oeuvre, some stories receive repeated mentions, some none. I confess that my pairing of titles with directors is somewhat arbitrary.
Jean‑Jacques Annaud. With movies such as Quest for Fire and The Bear he has shown an interest in dealing with pre-human and non-human subjects. Adaptations: "The Doom That Came to Sarnath" showcases an early civilization, which could be depicted. Another possibility is At the Mountains of Madness, where so much takes place in the wilderness, nor would the screenplay require much dialogue, similar to Quest for Fire.
Dario Argento. His Suspiria, which seems to deal with witchcraft, has a great scene of a semi-human, hoarsely-breathing shadow, and that comes closest to the suggestiveness of HPL. Adaptations: With his vivid use of color in that movie, he might try "The Colour out of Space." And since he deals with witches as well as stabbings, "The Dreams in the Witch House" might prove an interesting attempt.
Tim Burton. His Sleepy Hollow has a rich, New England atmosphere, while The Nightmare before Christmas beautifully showcases the macabre and whimsical. Adaptations: Either as animation or live, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath's fabulous beings and adventures could show Burton's strengths. Or there's the more serious "The Shadow out of Time," which has the animation possibilities of the Great Race and other things.
John Carpenter. He's acknowledged HPL's importance and done some films (e.g., In the Mouth of Madness) recognizing this. Adaptations: The most Lovecraftian of his films, Prince of Darkness, seems to borrow from "The Dunwich Horror," so why should he not tackle this? His fine Big Trouble in Little China involves wandering through an underground world, and since he's done The Thing, both films seem to point to At the Mountains of Madness.
David Cronenberg. Think of those horror movies of his where the human body transforms, and the ghastly deaths. Adaptations: "The Thing on the Doorstep" has human decay plus the gender fascination found in Dead Ringers, etc. A less satisfying, though still interesting, alternative is "The Colour out of Space," in particular because the change in human flesh could be emphasized.
Frank Darabont. The credential that ensures his inclusion is the exceptional monster flick, The Mist. Adaptations: Like this movie, "From Beyond" contains another dimension with monsters, though it is certainly dissimilar in other aspects. Concerning monsters in Lovecraft's later works, I'd pick "The Whisperer in Darkness," which also features a siege scenario.
David Fincher. He's done the so-so Alien3 and Se7en, plus Rendevous with Rama has been announced as a project. Adaptations: Due to his Gothic sensibility, I'd like to see what he would do with the impossible-to-film "The Outsider" or, with its mystery, "The Shadow over Innsmouth."
Terry Gilliam. Like Tim Burton, he is another director who appreciates animation. He uses with a heavy style traditional and archetypal fantasy, as in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and The Brothers Grimm. Adaptations: His whimsy could be employed with The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, while his heavy-handed humor and animation sensibility could be used for "The Dunwich Horror."
Stuart Gordon. He's already done the second-best Lovecraft film (Re-Animator), and probably the fourth best (Dagon). Adaptations: In this case, the story I'd pick he is already filming, "The Thing on the Doorstep," a kind of Dr. Jekyll-Sister Hyde that allows rein to his interest in sexual outragedness. After that, I'd like to see what he would do with the various perversities of degeneration in "The Rats in the Walls."
Peter Jackson. His big films have created fantasy worlds with monsters. Adaptations: As I've noted in a previous 'aster the creviced landscape of Skull Island (King Kong, 2005) would fit in with R'lyeh, so one of my choices is "The Call of Cthulhu." Since he's also done an over-the-top horror film (Dead Alive), "The Hound" could appeal to his macabre streak.
David Lynch. He has a surreal imagination. Adaptations: Since he has done the epic Dune, why not a go at an ice desert, At the Mountains of Madness? And since he has done Eraserhead, maybe the same tone could be transferred to "The Outsider"?
George Lucas. He's created complete worlds with Star Wars films. Adaptations: Having such a scope for imagination, the world of The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath could provide an entertaining experience. Another story that could prove to be chock-full of strange beings is "The Shadow out of Time."
Michael Mann. He's done the vaguely Lovecraftian The Keep, though his home is the crime film. Adaptations: "The Hound" would make an interesting subject for his very visual style. While HPL didn't write crime stories, there is gun play and pursuit in "The Whisperer in Darkness."
Wolfgang Petersen. He's best known for the submarine movie Das Boot, but he also did The NeverEnding Story. Adaptations: With its submarine setting "The Temple" would be a shoo-in, and because he's done movies where the elements reign supreme (e.g., The Perfect Storm), I'd choose "The Colour out of Space."
Alex Proyas. Probably the least known name on this list, his artistic and atmospheric films have included The Crow and the Philip K. Dickean Dark City. Adaptations: For his knowledge of incredible city scapes, "He" would be appropriate, or maybe "The Shadow over Innsmouth."
George A. Romero. The director is most closely identified with, and most successful in, zombie films. Adaptations: An obvious choice is "Herbert West-Reanimator." Then there's "The Lurking Fear," a story about semi-humans attacking (and cannibalizing) people, as in The Night of the Living Dead, etc.
Ken Russell. The Devils and The Lair of the White Worm show his interest in the bizarre, with a quirky humor noteworthy in the latter. Adaptations: Also, since Russell has been drawn to music biographies, "The Music of Erich Zann" would seem a natural fit, while "The Dunwich Horror" should lend itself to the extravagancies of his style.
Martin Scorsese. His interest in the dark aspects of human behavior often reveals itself in gangster films, but then there's Taxi Driver. Adaptations: The artist in "Pickman's Model" could prove an interesting study in pathology, while Wilbur and his father in "The Dunwich Horror" are outside the law (of both nature and man), so they would be fit subjects.
Paul Schrader. More of a writer (Taxi Driver) than a director, in the latter camp he has Cat People and Witch Hunt (with detective H. Philip Lovecraft). Adaptations: With his bleak view of humanity (as revealed in an interview), I'd like to see his "Picture in the House" or, considering its taboo sexuality (Hardcore), "The Thing on the Doorstep."
Ridley Scott. One of my two top choices to direct a Lovecraft adaptation, the director in Alien has produced the most Lovecraftian scene to ever appear-the discovery of the outsized "space jockey," which combines Gothic terror, wonder, and beauty. Adaptations: Due to its difficulty but great atmospheric quality, "The Outsider" is one candidate. The creation of a transmundane "colour," the farm, and the mutations could evoke a Lovecraft experience in "The Colour out of Space."
M. Night Shyamalan. By some contiguous alphabetical miracle, my other top choice for directing is here. Both Signs (Gothic suggestions of alien? presence) and The Village (frightening beings surround an isolated village) have some terrific build-ups, though the payoff in the latter is particularly disappointing. Adaptations: Lovecraft's imagination and narrative strengths could compensate for the weakness of some of this director's movies. "The Rats in the Walls" would allow him scope to accumulate suggestive details, while "The Whisperer in Darkness" would allow him to again deal with hostile aliens.
Steven Spielberg. Here's a wildly popular entertainer, particularly when it comes to action. Therefore, I'd like to see him do one work that is the antithesis of this. Adaptations: Much of "The Temple" takes place on a submarine (so it could be a stage play). The confinement would make for an interesting challenge. On the other hand "The Whisperer in Darkness" could lend itself to action in the way that "The Invaders" (Twilight Zone) episode did, where the Agnes Moorehead character wordlessly fights off things in an isolated cabin.
Oliver Stone. Known for his conspiratorial view of history (JFK), he might fit in well with the Lovecraftian mind-set. Adaptations: With its mystery, documentary history, and dream elements "The Rats in the Walls" offers much, though the sheer horror might be beyond his reach. "The Haunter in the Dark" offers similar elements without the pure Gothic horror.
Robert Zemeckis. The opening of Contact is very Lovecraftian as a space probe recedes from the solar system and the audience is made to feel the immensity and alienage of the cosmos; and thanks to the soundtrack's background play of earlier and earlier broadcasts from television and radio, there is likewise the sense of going back in time. Zemeckis has also been involved in various genre films, most recently Beowulf. Adaptations: Since he has directed several animation works, notably those involving types of rotoscoping, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath would be a candidate, supplying a dream, medieval atmosphere that contains outlandish creatures. With its two monsters, and the chance to glimpse Yog-Sothoth, "The Dunwich Horror" could also prove to be an interesting animation opportunity.
Among the passel of directors I've omitted: The Coens prefer crime melodrama to such horror material; Sam Raimi is content with comic books; Peter Weir and James Cameron have been away from the camera for a long while; Quentin Tarantino dotes on dialogue; Curtis Hanson may have written the screenplay for "The Dunwich Horror," but he doesn't seem really dedicated to horror. And so on.
Now, were I able to raid one director from the past, that would be Stanley Kubrick, whose 2001: A Space Odyssey revels in cosmic scale for both space and time. With that in mind, I would pick him to adapt "The Shadow out of Time" or At the Mountains of Madness.
Before ending this exercise in cinematic fantasy, I'm going to choose the best three Lovecraft adaptations, so far.
1) The Call of Cthulhu (2006). Not only is this silent the most faithful adaptation, it comes closest to the Lovecraftian spirit. The music conveys sound narrative while the visuals are black-and-white, so an otherworldly feel is enhanced. There's an attempt to render in images some concepts in the story, notably the jigsaw puzzle with a cosmic picture, a literal representation of the piecing together of dissociated knowledge. The expressionist set for the scene involving R'lyeh affirms the film's place in the twenties (with reminiscences of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari) and creates a dream-like atmosphere by its deliberate unreality.
2) Re-Animator (1985). Compared with the first choice, this is a professional, mainstream movie, so it makes inevitable compromises, which is less regrettable than it might be because the source material is rather below-par Lovecraft. In its pulp rawness Re-Animator catches some of the Gothic spirit and outrageousness of the original. Nor is the movie's injection of humor off the mark, since the Lovecraft story appeared in Home Brew, a magazine that claimed to be full of moonshine.
3) The Resurrected (1992). This is one of the most faithful adaptations of any Lovecraft work, though by no means flawlessly so. However, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward offers so much conceptually and in details that it is a pleasure to see some of it accurately translated to the screen.
Scott (in The Daily Lurker): I appreciate you providing the facsimile and "translation" of the letter of thanks from Lovecraft to Forrest J Ackerman, but I wish you had included information about where it resides-the John Hay Library, a private collection, etc.
Ben: I'd dispute that HPL "might well be just another forgotten pulpist" were it not for Derleth. Certain genre pulp writers seem to have an immortality that owes more to a continued interest of readers and later scholars than to any one person. Websites are dedicated to the pulps, and even relatively obscure pulpists elicit an interest, if only from a dedicated hardcore. *** Thanks for the gathering of illustrations. The Finlays were my favorite. A few that I know have been produced in The Dark Brotherhood and Other Pieces.
John N.: There's as much chance that Lovecraft was an occultist as there is that he was a closet Christian, though you'll find advocates for at least the first. *** I think I recall seeing Mad Monsters for sale, but I recall it as photos of monsters with "funny" captions added, and didn't care for such an approach. Maybe I'm thinking of another publication with a similar title? As for comic books, I was firmly a Dell, funny animal (e.g., Uncle Scrooge, Tweety and Sylvester) kind of guy, never purchasing DC's and that ilk. I hope some member can contribute further information on Joseph Howard Krucher.
Linda: There's a 1990 article about monster-maker Paul Blaisdell in Cinefantastique; for aught I know, it may be by the same author. *** I wonder how much the inferiority of insulation and heating back in the 1920's affected Lovecraft's indoor sensitivity to cold; maybe if he had the conveniences of today he wouldn't have complained so much. *** While Lovecraft used the element of cold in his stories (as you point out), the use of its opposite, heat, is nowhere so common. It is mentioned in "Nyarlathotep," and deserts appear in both "The Nameless City" and "The Shadow out of Time," but not to the same degree, if you'll excuse the pun. *** I can think of a couple of possible reasons Lovecraft did not visit Barlow in the winter time. 1) He may not have been invited during this season. 2) To travel from Providence to Florida in the winter may have meant that he had to hazard some cold outside (e.g., getting to the bus) before reaching the warm south. *** Reasons for HPL's sensitivity to cold must remain speculative, as it must for any medical condition when the subject is no longer available for an examination. For that matter, think of the proportion of mis-diagnoses even when there is a patient.
Fred: Even though Lovecraft was an atheist, there is reason to doubt that he established this view in his stories (e.g., "The Tomb"). His disbelief in occultism did not preclude him from convincingly using it as a device in his fiction. *** Concerning the 130° that you struggled with in Egypt, just think that HPL would've flourished (see remarks to Linda). *** It sounds as though you gave a great piano concert in Jordan. I wish I could've heard it.
Douglas: Going by your description of the stories in The Student and the Body-Snatcher and Other Trifles, I'd say it takes a rare man to enjoy them, and I ain't he. On the other hand The Face of Air sounded very intriguing, until your criticism deflated it.
T.R.: Your discovery or reasoning is persuasive of the connection between Lovecraft's perusal of his first new book on astronomy and the incident recounted in the third sonnet of the Fungi from Yuggoth. You make some intriguing queries about the origins of Lovecraft's astronomy collection. On the other hand, you'd have to do more persuading to establish a close overlap betwixt Burritt's story of Perseus and Lovecraft's. *** If HPL didn't have issues of Popular Astronomy in his personal library, it is possible that he read them in the Providence Public Library (or some other), which owns this title, though I'm unsure if the holdings are complete. *** In several stories Lovecraft makes isolated references to chemistry, but goes great guns when it comes to its predecessor, alchemy. Think of "The Alchemist," or much more importantly, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, where the subject is center stage.
John H.: I'm troubled by your definition of "canon," which makes it sound as though it was decreed and controlled by snobs. Also, when authors are admitted or dragged into the canon, so comes some of their inferior work, which of itself would never have got them in. *** Edmund Wilson causing the demise of interest in Lovecraft? Since he slammed both Tolkien and Agatha Christie (and other mysterios), did this also cause a problem for these writers? He has appeared in the ballyhooed Library of America, and wouldn't it be a further irony that Lovecraft's LoA's sales might have made the company enough profit to issue Wilson? One can muse on this. *** So far as Derleth co-creating the Mythos, there is a difference, more than semantic, between creation and expansion. HPL created the idea and the premises, Derleth and others enhanced them.
*** There's been such an uproar over the quote, one version of which is "You will, of course, realize that all my stories, unconnected as they may be, are based on one fundamental lore or legend: that this world was inhabited at one time by another race, who in practicing black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live on outside, ever ready to take possession of this earth again." Some of it is close to the mark, some of it not. The stories are "unconnected" in that they are distinct and could stand on their own, yet they also share a "lore or legend" or premise, or whatever you wish to call it. Moreover, in the majority of the stories it is explicit that the world was previously inhabited by "another race"-races, of course. In many instances they "lost their foothold," though I generally would balk that they were "expelled" (by who or what?; and this gives an adscititious moral spin to HPL). The stories are much more than being reduced to a formula, by Derleth or anyone.
The part about "practicing black magic" has to be disputed. However, in such works as The Case of Charles Dexter Ward-not to be published till the forties-and "The Dunwich Horror" a sense of black magic is present. Some of the beings "lost their foothold" through the ineluctable march of time. If they were expelled, then it sounds as though something inimical to black magic had to expel them; this is not Lovecraftian, for here creeps in the Biblical (Satan's expulsion from Heaven), the moral (black magic is evil (as opposed to white magic?)), and a generic pulp set-up. Those who "live on outside" include Cthulhu (asleep in the deep) and Yog-sothoth, both of who would take over the world if conditions were right.
In sum, the quote is a mashup. One part accurately describes one story or stories, and another part describes another story (stories)-except for the black magic and expulsion parts, that are grafted on. There's enough truth in the quote, its compact and logical enough, and it has a glamour so that it could be used by Derleth and in Wise and Fraser's introduction to Lovecraft's work in the landmark Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural.
*** Derleth made "a bad decision" for blending Lovecraft's world with his? It was a creative decision, expanding the Mythos as Derleth saw fit. *** You state that the files of Arkham House are full of requests that Derleth write Mythos stories-but who requested this? Editors? Readers? *** I don't think S.T. will ever be confused with a temperate critic. His judgments are pronounced. Thus he states of the Gatto work that its "value is almost nil." *** You state "Lovecraft was dead when I was in my Senior year of high school"-this would make you now around 87, which seems completely wrong. *** In some two boxed pages you are quoting and rebutting someone (S.T.? in the previous mailing on Derleth?) or ones, and that plus the crowding of paragraphs makes for confusion.
Scott: Re: "Surely in any contest a winner may be determined only by a face to face confrontation." I think a closer analogy are those polls for the greatest athlete, etc. of the century or decade, where there is not the face-to-face that you suggest. Like that, the popularity of Lovecraft vs. Quinn (could be a prize fight) is a retrospective evaluation. *** You give a persuasive rebuttal. While I was won over by T. R.'s very detailed and impressive evidence, I've swung to your side (somewhat), but depending on what T. R. does, I might abandon your defense and go back with T. R. As you can see I'm a fair weather friend. I'll make two inferences. Those who voted also represented the non-voters' sentiment, as much as such a group can. Moreover, rather than appealing to the common, non-discriminating denominator, Weird Tales attracted a majority of readers who could identify the qualitatively best writers.
Stories mentioning the Necronomicon are collected in the Italian translation I Racconti del Necronomicon (Newton Compton, 2008).
"Sticks and Bones: The Life and Art of Lee Brown Coye" was featured in Illustration (no. 13). *** With an association going as far back as the seventies (sixties?) and in various media, Richard Corben will have published-beginning in June-the three-part series Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft (Marvel Comics MAX). This follows his Haunt of Horror: Edgar Allan Poe (2006). Corben also gives an interview related to the topic.
Hear Nick Gisburne read "The Beast in the Cave" and "The Cats of Ulthar."
An image of an announcement of the opening of Sonia Greene's millinery is available. Chris Perridas states that the announcement answers the question in S.T.'s biography about the location of the business (368 East 17th Street, Brooklyn, at Cortelyou Road).
He appears in a vast list of historical and fictional characters who have appeared in Sherlock Holmes pastiches.
Comic Books and Graphic Novels
BOOM! Studios is coming out with a monthly anthology of the heretofore one-shots Cthulhu Tales. *** H.P. Lovecraft's Visiones (Norma Editorial) is a collection of stories written and illustrated by the Uruguayan Hernán Rodríguez. *** Lovecraft, Massachusetts is a place in the series Locke & Key (IDW Publishing ) by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. *** Mike Mignola states that he probably hasn't read all of HPL and what he did read was "a billion years ago."
At the next-to-last session track at the 2008 Popular Culture Association's annual conference in San Francisco, the talk by Nick Mamatas billed as being about Lovecraft and copyright seemed more about HPL's influence, though I missed some of the words because of loud air handler machinery. Mamatas (who wrote the Lovecraft-related Move Under Ground) and Tim Pratt co-authored recently "The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft," available free. *** At the last session I was among four presenters, the others about horror but not HPL. Mine was titled "The Shadow of His Smile: Humour in H.P. Lovecraft's Fiction."
HPL and M.R. James receive attention in several essays featured in Collapse (vol. iv) whose theme is "Concept Horror." Thomas Ligotti and China Miéville are among the contributors here. *** "The Darker Islam within the American Gothic: Sufi Motifs in the Stories of H.P Lovecraft" (Zeitschrift fur Anglistik und Amerikanistik 52:3; 2004, p. 231-242) by I. Almond looks at daemon-sultans, etc. in the first part, and in the second at "Through the Gates of the Silver Key."
Thanks to a link at "Grim Blogger" I learned of Lovecraft, performed in Prague, Czech Republic. Put on in April by the English college drama department, "the play is an unconventional series of student- and staff-produced dramas based on the science fictional/horror writings of author H.P. Lovecraft. Sea demons, psychiatric patients and ghastly ghouls will abound."
Writer and editor Amy Sturgis will teach a summer seminar at Brown University on HPL, her favorite author.
Combine Cthulhu with car racing and you might have the card game of Cthulhu 500, which includes such vehicles as the Sports Cthutility Vehicle and Car of Cthulhu. Was it back in the nineteen-forties that some fan dubbed his auto the "Chariot of Cthulhu"?
Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping from 1st July 1840 to the 30th June 1841 lists a "Lovecraft" as a master of the brigantine Gleaner. *** In 1891 the National Education Association lists a M[ary] L. Lovecraft of Mt. Vernon, NY. *** In the DAR Lineage Book (XXXV, 1901; published 1912) a Martha Meazie Lovecraft is listed as married to a Luther Andrews Chase. *** The "elite family directory" of The Providence Society Blue Book (1905) lists under the name of Mrs. Winfield S. Lovecraft those of Mr. Whipple V. Phillips and Mrs. nee Phillips. The Providence House Directory and Family Address Book (1899) is by street and number, which allows a researcher to discover the names of the Lovecraft neighbors. At Angell 454 is Mrs. Winfield S. Lovecraft, Miss Lillian Phillips, and Mr. Whipple V. Phillips. I guess children weren't included, for there is no mention of HPL. *** A report of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture (1869) mentions a Mrs. J. E. Lovecraft.
Encyclopedia of Fictional & Fantastic Languages (Greenwood Press, 2006) by Tim Conley and Stephen Cain includes among others those created by Lovecraft, Poe, and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
There's another reason to visit Orlando: the Howard J. Duerr Collection, 1915-1978, whose object was material related to the Cthulhu Mythos. A former EOD member, Duerr had various Ofians among the correspondents, according to the online list.
Former Ofian Mike Ashley has produced Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science‑Fiction Magazines, 1970‑1980 (Liverpool University Press, 2007), wherein HPL receives a number of mentions.
Winning the "Best Short" prize at the Cinema City International Film Festival, the three-minute "The Vault" was said to be in part inspired by Lovecraft's fiction. *** Dean Stockwell, who starred in The Dunwich Horror (1970), will be appearing in another Lovecraft film, story basis currently unknown. In speaking of the earlier film, he states he is a Lovecraft fan, and because it didn't follow Lovecraft, it was "a little disappointing."
"Lovecraft in Brooklyn" and "Sax Rohmer" are among the songs on the album Heretic Pride by The Mountain Goats. There have been lots of Internet references to this album. *** Members of Frostmoon Eclipse are all fans of Lovecraft, hence the album I Am Providence (God Is Myth, 2008), which is volume vi of a limited H.P. Lovecraft series.
On different evenings at Treadwell's (a London bookshop specializing in the esoteric) there has been a performance of Poe works, a lecture about Machen and the occult, and a reading of extracts from Lovecraft tales, plus commentary.
A letter of Lovecraft's appears in The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever (Da Capo Press, 2007) edited by Christopher Hitchens.
The evolution writings of T.H. Huxley and Alfred Russel Wallace and their impact on H.P. Blavatsky and Lovecraft is the subject of "Humanity's Place in Nature, 1863 - 1928: Horror, Curiosity and the Expeditions of Huxley, Wallace, Blavatsky and Lovecraft" (Theology & Science (March 2008), p73-88) by Abel Alves. *** Two Finnish scientists, F Sabot and A. H. Schulman, ended "Parasitism and the Retrotransposon Life Cycle in Plants: A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Genome" (Heredity, 1 December 2006, p. 381-388) with the quote beginning "That is not dead."
According to a blogger, the book At the Mountains of Madness makes an appearance in the science fiction series The 4400.
Combining Lovecraft and Kafka, Brown University's Production Workshop has given a new play, "The Music of Erich Zann in the Penal Colony." *** What, Has This Thing Appeared Again Tonight? by Jim Fitzmorris comes to the Shakespeare Festival at Tulane University (New Orleans) July 25-Aug. 3. According to someone involved in the production, the title is from Hamlet, Lovecraft, and Charles Schulz.
Influence and Allusions
One observer notes the homages to HPL, Raymond Chandler, and others in So Dark the Night by Cliff Burns, available under a Creative Commons license. *** Pulitzer prize-winner Michael Chabon collects Arkham House, Gnome Press, Fantasy Press, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Heinlein, and Robert E. Howard. His recent collection of non-fiction, Maps and Legends (McSweeney's, 2008), includes something on M.R. James (and his The Yiddish Policemen's Union (reviewed by Ben) has been nominated for a Hugo, Nebula, and Edgar). *** Author of Critical Synoptics: Menippean Satire and the Analysis of Intellectual Mythology (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2000) Carter Kaplan notes that in his late teens he was motivated to write seriously by REH, CAS, and HPL, hoping to become "a famous and reclusive fantasy writer" who lived in a Scottish castle (quoted from Contemporary Authors Online, Thomson Gale, 2004). *** World Fantasy nominee Eric S. Nylund notes that his favorite writers are Roger Zelazny, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and HPL. *** The latter two, plus Dashiell Hammett are named influences of J.B. Post, responsible for the well-known An Atlas of Fantasy (1978). *** HPL was one of a number of early influences for short story writer Pinckney Benedict. And he is one of a number enjoyed by Peter Charles Horstead Smith, novelist and military writer. *** Apparently in Michel's Butor's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ape HPL was on a recommended reading list. *** "Shoggoths in Bloom" (Asimov's Science Fiction (March)) by Elizabeth Bear is reviewed by Karen Burnham. The first part of the story can be read at the Asimov site. *** Gene Wolfe's 2008 An Evil Guest is described on the Amazon site as "Lovecraft meets Blade Runner," though the accompanying summary makes me question that.
A recent publication is C.L. Moore's Northwest of Earth: The Complete Northwest Smith (Paizo, 2008). There's also her Black God's Kiss (Paizo, 2007).
"Most horrible of all sights are the little unpainted wooden houses remote from travelled ways...In such houses have dwelt generations of strange people, whose like the world has never seen.... Divorced from the enlightenment of civilization, the strength of these Puritans turned into singular channels...Erring as all mortals must, they were forced by their rigid code to seek concealment above all else."-"The Picture in the House"
Cf. "There, remote from the power of example and the check of shame, many families exhibit the most hideous parts of our society."-St. Jean de Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer (1782)
In Memoriam: Arthur C. Clarke
Thanks for reading the 56th issue of The Criticaster (April 2008, mailing 142) by St. Eve Walker. Eventually published on the Net as The Limbonaut (no 27).