Online vs. Paper: The Battle That Begins the Century
There have been the occasional flare-up of comments on moving from paper EOD submissions to online. Here are my strawman pros and cons.
Pro for Online:
1. It's much, much cheaper than paper. There's no expense for either printing or mailing.
2. Since there is no monetary charge for printing or mailing, you can write as much as you please. It becomes a matter of how much time you are willing to invest in writing.
3. The format can be dynamic. For example, in your fanzine you can embed youtube and other videos, sound files, live links, social media, color illustrations, etc. Who knows what the future will make available?
4. The interval that it takes a submission to reach the editor would change from days (snail mail) to minutes. Now some of you will have even more time to explain why you ran out of time to include comments.
5. Formatting flexibility. Should the type on a contribution that you are reading be too small, with a motion or two you can enlarge it. Immediately find a word or phrase anywhere in the document. If you want to comment on a specific remark, cut and paste it for loc.
6. Archiving. Instead of using valuable shelf space, all mailings can be saved on your hard drive; or if there was a dedicated website, they could be saved in the cloud.
7. Ambient findability. Mailings can accompany you anywhere you carry your laptop, iPad, iPhone, etc. so long as there is enough space to download the stuff.
8. Publishing in electrons rather than in dead trees is more environmentally benign, though not perfect.
9. Other possibilities I haven't thought of, but you might.
Con for Online:
1. Gradual and systemic dissolution of the EOD. This will take some explaining. At the most conservative, let me suppose that members send in contributions online and it is distributed the same way. Somebody will eventually wonder, why do you need to send it to the editor? Why couldn't he be bypassed and the contributions sent straight to the members? As physical mail it makes sense to send it to one source who distributes it all in one mailing. But a single mailing is unnecessary with electronic media. For that matter, membership fees are unneeded, since there is no longer a postal cost. Other than acting the policeman concerning the need to meet one's contribution obligations, what would the editor be needed for?; so the editor is marginalized. And as a member, unless you are self-disciplined enough to adhere to a time and production schedule, the EOD would falter. Members would either not send their fanzines in on time, or send them whenever they felt like it. Without keeping to rules and codes, that which ties the EOD together fails. In sum, an overseer with some power and a consensual structure is needed for continuity of the order.
Currently, and willy-nilly, the EOD is in a hybrid situation. Some contributions are being sent electronically, the rest in traditional media. But how long before the advantages of electrons swings more members to online?
2. Obviously, not everyone has equal access to produce and receive electronic submissions. Ironically you save money from postage, but you may have to outlay a lot more money to acquire a computer, its software, a printer, and a subscription to internet access. (True, you may be able to borrow the computer from a friend or use it at a library; though I suppose most or all members use a computer for typing papers and reading online, so maybe this objection is moot.) Still the obstacle of technology remains.
3. Reading online texts for some is more of a challenge than reading print.
4. Barring something like a mobile tablet, it's at least cumbersome to impossible to carry around a computer as compared with issues from a mailing.
5. Storage and archiving could be a challenge. What place will mailings be stored? For example, if sent to Brown University, does it have a policy and the capability to deal with electronic submissions?; if at a business, how trustworthy will it be, and what if it goes bankrupt, or institutes a policy antithetical to the information saved? Will storage be chiefly for access--so members can check past issues--or to protect what is stored (i.e., for preservation)?
6. Shifting to e-fanzines is a break with tradition, both the EOD's and earlier. In a way one is saluting HPL and his circle by paralleling the correspondence between members. Movement away from the paper media creates a further aesthetic and historical distance.
7. With paper you can collect mailings, but this becomes more problematical with e-print. Do you save "your" copy on your computer? I think it is more vulnerable this way, e.g., to crashes, as Don and Mollie have recently experienced. Moreover, if a copy is in print and online, do you save both versions, assuming you are a completist? And what if there is a discrepancy between versions--is one more authentic than the others?
8. Print is stable and is a final artifact, whereas one can tamper with an online version, re-write it after it has been submitted and archived, fix typos, add to it, drop things from it. This will become the despair of bibliophiles who collect every version of an item.
9. Computer flash will best best paper substance. While all may know how to use basic software, those with technology savvy will have an edge in exploiting electronic submissions; so by themselves superior research and writing skills count for less.
One that is neither pro nor con concerns the EOD six-page requirement every six months. The conception of a page may eventually be in jeopardy when it comes to an online environment, where the page would be a holdover or even a fossil of the paper book.
In his introduction B. D. Zevin calls Irvin S. Cobb's story "Fishhead" "a fierce and grisly tale, reminiscent of Poe and H. P. Lovecraft... It is the tale of a strange affinity and an even stranger retribution" (Cobb's Cavalcade, a Selection from the Writings of Irvin S. Cobb [The World Publishing Company, 1945]; p. 124). The scene of the story is Reelfoot Lake, "the largest lake south of the Ohio, lying mostly in Tennessee, but extending up across what is now the Kentucky line." Cobb renders the lake and its surroundings with a vivid and convincingly eerie atmosphere. He provides something of its human and natural history, most tellingly about the monstrous catfish who have "scaleless, slick things, with corpsy, dead eyes and poisonous fins like javelins" (p. 127). I can see why this would appeal to HPL. For a number of readers the most obvious resemblance is to "The Shadow over Innsmouth." Part of the reason can be traced to the protagonist's lineage.
He had been born ... of a Negro father and a half-breed Indian mother, both of them now dead, and the story was that before his birth his mother was frightened by one of the big fish, so that the child came into the world most hideously marked. Anyhow, Fishhead was a human monstrosity, the veritable embodiment of nightmare. He had the body of a man -- a short, stocky, sinewy body -- but his face was as near to being the face of a great fish as any face could be and yet retain some trace of human aspect. His skull sloped back so abruptly that he could hardly be said to have a have a forehead at all; his chin slanted off right into nothing. His eyes were small and round with shallow, glazed, pale-yellow pupils, and they were set wide apart in his head and they were unwinking and staring, like a fish's eyes. His nose was no more than a pair of tiny slits in the middle of the yellow mask. His mouth was the worst of all. It was the awful mouth of a catfish, lipless and almost inconceivably wide, stretching from side to side. Also when Fishhead became a man grown his likeness to a fish increased, for the hair upon his face grew out into two tightly kinked, slender pendants that drooped down either side of the mouth like the beards of a fish (p. 127).
ability "he knew the waters and the woods of Reelfoot
better than any other man there" (p. 128), but he is superstitiously shunned
and feared (especially at night) by his neighbors, and lives alone, "a creature
of affliction and loneliness, part savage, almost amphibious, set apart from
his fellows, silent and suspicious " (p. 128). There are "ugly stories" about
him in his relationship with the catfish, who would
come at his bidding and swim with him.
Had the story ended at the half-way point, a good case could be made for its Lovecraftian quality of mood and suggestive terror. Then Cobb takes a deep breath and starts a plot: "The Baxters were going to kill him." This second half of the story is the setting up of the murder of Fishhead--who has run afoul of two reprobates--and its consequence, which involves revenge through the catfish. An element here is found in several Lovecraft tales, and that is supernatural comeuppance. The transgressors are punished because of their misdeeds. In various ways it wraps up the ending of "The Doom That Came to Sarnath," "The Terrible Old Man," and "The Hound." In other and maturer Lovecraft stories the idea moves away from moral justice to the philosophical or epistemological realm of what happens when someone discovers what man is not meant to know.
The journey of the story to publication is clouded. Wayne Chatterton, in his Irvin S. Cobb (Twayne Publishers, 1986), states the story began as a twelve-hundred-word descriptive essay for a newspaper column while Cobb was reporting on the Goebel murder, which took place in 1900. (I suspect that the part I consider Lovecraftian was the descriptive essay part, and the 1909 revision (see Anita Lawson, Irvin S. Cobb [Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1984]) was the Baxter murder plot.) Then, "Cobb sent 'Fishhead' to numerous editors, but it was not published until Bob Davis decided to include it in his Cavalier in 1913. Even Davis felt the need to preface it with a warning that readers might find it offensive. Cobb kept the letters of rejection that it attracted... At least twelve magazines rejected it as too experimental, too shocking and too sophisticated for their readers" (Lawson, p. 89). Years later, when "The Rats in the Walls" was sent to Argosy, editor Davis found it "too horrible," as HPL put it in a letter to Frank Belknap Long. Maybe Lovecraft reasoned that because Davis would accept stories such as "Fishhead" he might find something in a horror vein appealing.
It is likely that HPL made his acquaintance with the story when it premiered in the 11 January 1913 Cavalier, which also contained an installment of George Allan England's Darkness and Dawn, as it would come to be known. More significantly, the longest work in the issue was by Fred Jackson ("The House of Unrest").
Jason Colavito has written something on this story, reproducing an article from The Bookman. Also, under the label of "Tragedy"(!) the story is recommended with two others in a Cobb collection ("A Short-Story Reading List" by Raymond W. Pence, The English Journal [May 1920], p. 270-283) In the New York Times (2 February 1913) an article that contains the subheading "Short Stories of Distinction" puts it in a company of four others for that month. During Lovecraft's lifetime "Fishhead" had the honor of sharing an appearance with "The Call of Cthulhu" in the same anthology, Beware After Dark!: The World's Most Stupendous Tales of Mystery, Horror, Thrills and Terror (Emerson Books, 1929), edited by T. Everett Harré.
Lawson calls it " a gothic fantasy whose effect of horror is produced by Cobb's diction and style." In addition to Zevin, others have compared several of Cobb's stories to those of Poe. If there is a theme binding "Fishhead" and other stories of his I have read--"The Escape of Mr. Trimm"; "The Belled Buzzard"; "Darkness"; "An Occurrence up a Side Street"; "The Exit of Anse Dugmore"; "Faith, Hope and Charity"; and "Snake Doctor"--it is that justice will out in the form of fate as a grim comedian. Their tone and mechanicalness evokes a kinship to the Ambrose Bierce of "One of the Missing."
As a gratuitous end note, Cobb's middle name was "Shrewsbury," and so may have suggested the name of Laban Shrewsbury, Derlethian nemesis of Cthulhu.
Creeping Alzheimers is one partial explanation why I did not include this mailing in the previous issue, though I had it ready. Another is that I keep copies in two separate places--in Word and Google Documents, and I must've thought that I had transferred that portion of the issue to Word. But I hadn't.
Scott (Continuity): You justify the crucifix's effect on Keziah because of her experience with its wearers during the colonial era of persecution in witch-haunted Arkham. The word "crucifix" shows up ten times in the tale. It is presented as a protective aid, as seen by the "superstitious" Mazurewicz, who pushes it on Gilman. During the final encounter "At sight of the device the witch seemed struck with panic". HPL is purposely ambiguous concerning its effect, for he uses the word "seemed". I suppose the witch could actually be responding to its power. It is a "metal symbol"; though not necessarily religious. The story emphasizes geometric shapes and angles, which allowed the witch to move through dimensions. The cross is conjoining angles, and perhaps this recognition of its pattern affected her, though exactly why must remain speculative. On the other hand, it would seem that a cross might better represent this idea than a crucifix, which additionally contains a human figure.
Like Chekhov's pistol ("If in Act I you have a pistol hanging on the wall, then it must fire in the last act")--following the rules of parsimony--the crucifix proves unexpectedly, and ironically, useful. Its power is less a spiritual defense than a physical weapon.
Yet the effect on the witch could be for the most obvious and traditional reasons, similar to the cross vanquishing the vampire. As with "The Dunwich Horror" the story is a hybrid between magic and science fiction. HPL worked to keep Gothic trappings within a new imaginative framework.
This is not the first time that he used Christian traditionalism to make a point. There's "Old Christmas" (S. T. writes "Lovecraft pays an obligatory tribute--which he clearly did not feel--to Christianity" [p. 195, I Am Providence]), the aforementioned "Dunwich," and the believers who hold back the entity with candles in "The Haunter of the Dark." There's been at least one thesis on the subject (A Knocking at the Door: Christian Hope in the Horror Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft).
Look at it another way. In several stories Lovecraft recognized the existence of black magic or the occult--and that should be no harder to swallow than the recognition of white magic, as represented by the crucifix.
*** A good, Lee Brown Coye-like cover. It looks like scratchboard technique.
Danny and Margaret (The Nyarlathotep Phenomenon Newsletter): Re "May there be many more such rants"--call it "The Rants in the Walls."
T. R. (Redux): Re your disillusioning discovery that Carolyn (Morticia) Jones was really a blond--on the other hand, one eye was differently colored from the other (at least, that is what I recall reading decades ago).
Ken (Occasional Essay): That's an admirable professional bibliography produced by your other (non-EOD) self. *** (EOD Letter) The comparison of "best of" Lovecraft collections prompted me to look for a handful of stories in WorldCat to see how frequently they've been reproduced in anthologies; the winner by a large margin was "The Call of Cthulhu" (82; though I had to exclude the word "chaosium"). Others: "The Rats in the Walls" (52); "The Colour out of Space" (67); "The Shadow over Innsmouth" (67); "The Shadow out of Time" (61); "The Dunwich Horror" (65); "Herbert West" (44); "The Music of Erich Zann" (49); "Pickman's Model" (58); and "The Whisperer in Darkness" (37). The print on demand The Best of H.P. Lovecraft :Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre (Create Space) appears to be a reprint of the 1982 Ballantine Books title. *** While "The Colour out of Space" has never made it as a stand-alone volume, it came fairly close in Arkham House's 3 Tales of Horror.
Kennett (Lovecraftian Ramblings): That's a charming snow globe cover. Decades ago I had one snow globe with the Lone Ranger holding a dangling lasso near a spotted calf--if you shook the globe you might luckily lasso it round the neck--and another with Santa Claus emerging from a chimney. One winter I had them on the ledge of a window, open just a crack. That was enough to freeze them and burst the glass.
Jim (Sidereal): I cannot read music, but the lyrics were cute in "Hymn to Bacchus" by W. Paul Ganley.
Don (The Morgan and Rice Gazette): You mention that you turned 70 on New Year's Eve (i.e., 31 December). That reminds me of the Eddie Cantor routine: "I was born on the last month of the year, the last week of the month, the last day of the week, the last hour of the day, the last minute of the hour, the last second of the minute--I almost didn't get here at all." Mollie: To prevent getting lost, have you considered a Garmin or something similar in GPS for your car? Also, you might consider copying your photos onto cd's, which would limit the damage for any future computer meltdown.
Martin (Aurora Borealis): Master of typos and korrections that you are, I found that you reference "L. Sprague de Camp" as "De Camp." I recently discovered that he used "Abdul Alhazred" as a pseudonym (shared with several co-authors) for the 1973 Al Azif. *** "Regner Lodbrog's Epicedium" is the kind of thing that Robert E. Howard would appreciate.
David (Drake's Potpourri): You softly impeach your acquaintance for only publishing a few stories through the decades while attending various writers' workshops, teaching writing, and talking about being a writer. Maybe that is all that is required to fulfill him, that is what he considers as being a writer, rather than self-supported selling. After all, when is one a writer? When you make a living by it? When you sell a story or novel or poem? What about submissions published without remuneration? What about someone who does it part-time with minimal pay? Or someone who gets critical approbation without the compliment of money?
S. T. (What Is Anything?): Brief though your survey was of Lovecraft scholars, I think it might have found a few words for contributions by George T. Wetzel and the bibliography by Jack Chalker.
John (Hesperia): I do not grasp your objection. How can a letter by Derleth--not about him--be slanted? The more documentary evidence, the better (assuming the context is made clear).
David (Cthulsz): Yours is a fascinating account of bringing HPL from manuscript to a finished book and the choices that were required, if not dictated by circumstances. *** It was the early nineteen-seventies, perhaps, when I saw a letter to Clark Ashton Smith for sale in a Los Angeles bookstore with an asking price of some five-hundred dollars; the luxuriousness of the amount impressed me.
Son of Mailing 157 (i.e., 158)
Ken (EOD Letter): To answer your query about whether there is a single Lovecraft collection in Russian--look no further than the 2006 Probuzhdenie Ktulkhu (Azbuka Klassika). As for Lovecraft in Swahili--apparently not. However, neither is Harry Potter. *** I am unable to uncover more about the talk (in French) about amateur journalism by Samuel Coavoux. I did learn he is a graduate student majoring in sociology and has an article "Ruptures biographiques et écriture du fantastique dans 'L'affaire Charles Dexter Ward' de Howard P. Lovecraft" in Ce Qu'ils Vivent, Ce Qu'ils Écrivent. Mises en Scène Littéraires du Social et Expériences Socialisatrices des Écrivains, ["Biographical Ruptures and Fantasy Writing in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by Howard P. Lovecraft" in They Live What They Write: Literary Stagings of the Social and Socializing Experiences of Writers] (Éditions des Archives Contemporaines, 2011; p. 369-398). *** The site Tinyurl is a tool used to shorten long urls, and that is the reason to visit it. If 'aster were an online publication I wouldn't need to use the site, since the hyperlink would be in the text; but print is another matter.
*** The Hay does collect HPL in various languages. When I was there in 2007, coincidentally there was in the reading room a stack of new Lovecraft books not yet processed. I remember them as being in various languages, among them Turkish. I had a camera, and I could kick myself for not thinking to take a photo of them. *** After our death memory of each of us does fade within a generation or so--but I wonder if we are not like the stamped upon butterfly in "The Sound of Thunder" and what we have accomplished or not reverberates for untold generations?
Alex (Inane Titter): Due in part to circumstance and personal history, I nominate Henry Kuttner's "The Graveyard Rats" as the scariest story of all time, and it doesn't deserve your slight that his Mythos stories "are not much better." Yet, Kuttner's strength was in his humor rather than his horror. Since I have a copy of Terror in the House: The Early Kuttner and don't want the stories spoiled, I have read your essay very superficially. I will observe that "The Shadow on the Screen" appears a dark take on the humorous "Hollywood on the Moon."
Mark (Wraiths of Winnemucca): A stranger comes across a man up to his neck in quicksand. The stranger observes "You're in great difficulty." "But," the man replies, "at least I'm better off than my friend. I'm standing on his shoulders." That is the condition of Lovecraft and Howard scholarship and text (and Howard in turn is standing on Smith). There are Penguin editions for HPL, but for Howard the situation is dicey. I wanted to buy a collection of Howard for my university library, but I had trouble finding a collection that presented a good representation of the Howard oeuvre and had textual integrity. I finally decided on The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard. On the other hand Heroes in the Wind leaves too much out.
T. E. (The Cosmicomicon): Skimming "That Old Problem," I felt that something about the theme was reminiscent of the Emily Dickinson lines: “The mighty merchant smiled./Brazil? He twirled a button,/ Without a glance my way:/ ’But, madam, is there nothing else/ That we can show to-day?’” Of the story itself, I wish--a personal taste--that you were more parsimonious with your descriptive words; sometimes plainer can be more effective than being original or colorful.
David (Drake’s Potpourri): While The Arrogant History of White Ben may be unique, there are a number of stories featuring scarecrows, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Feathertop” (dramatized as The Scarecrow by Percy MacKaye). A number of works use the scarecrow to scare (or maybe these are the ones I remember): Thriller’s “The Hollow Watcher,” Night of the Scarecrow (not seen by me), John Metcalfe’s “The Feasting Dead,” and the Dr. Syn books--and was it you who recently discussed them? *** You are to be congratulated for your consistent writing success. Writing seems more important to you as therapy for your war trauma than it is a commercial outlet.
Leigh (Mantichore): I agree with the esteem in which you hold “Nemesis” and I’d disregard S. T.’s dismissal of it unless he provides detail and justification. His criticism, as you observe, boils down to a matter of taste. Also as you observe, HPL thought enough of the poem to have it open “The Haunter of the Dark.” The poem provides lots of fodder for interpretation. “Nemesis” deals with the most essential, most frequent Lovecraft fictional theme--the displacement of one mind by another. As for Winfield Townley Scott’s “to scare is a slim purpose in fiction,” like me you have substituted words to show the porousness of Scott’s argument.
*** While “Nemesis” has a melodramatic flourish, it is a fun poem. I don’t follow you that Blake’s curiosity is a form of hubris, if only because I bristle at the thought of impeaching the desire for intellectual discovery. It’d be interesting to see how many Lovecraft protagonists hear the siren call of curiosity. Beyond its sound color, I wonder why Poe created the word Yaanek? The word play of “sounded all things with my sight” is also attributable to synesthesia.
*** In re-reading (and re-appreciating) the poem, I find that landscape and place have a major role. There is surely some narrative development from stanza to stanza, but I can’t grasp it other than it seems to move from the general cosmos to the haunts of man, and then in the final two stanzas (excepting the last) shifts to the topic of time. So the poem deals with space and time. I fancy that aside from its “Ulalume” influence I spy in it “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
*** I hope to see your article in Lovecraft Studies or some similar journal. Bravo.
*** Concerning “Ulalume”--the Hallowe’en 1988 (mailing 64) ‘aster had my stanza-by-stanza parody of it, entitled “Fruit of the Loom®,” which included the washer woman Mrs. Yaanek scrubbing Fruit of the Loom brand underwear which to his detriment the narrator wore damp. It began:
The wash it was dirty and sober;
The sheets they were crisp and holed--
The sheets they were fading and holed;
It was chill on the wash day of October
Of my most immemorial cold;
It was hard by the wash tub named Auber,
In the clammy dim basement so old--
It was down by the dank tub named Auber,
In the sheet-haunted washroom so old.
[And so on]
His work appeared in several anthologies edited by the prolific Groff Conklin. Here's a list of all Conklin science fiction and horror anthologies and their contents.
The whimsical shade of Edward Gorey is glimpsable in John Kenn Mortensen's Post-It Monstres.
I had the opportunity to search through some old newspapers (courtesy of Newsbank) and discovered the following. The New York Herald Tribune (23 July 1898, p. 16) referred to Winfield Scott Lovecraft as "formerly a well-known resident" of Mount Vernon, New York. *** The 11 March 1917 South Dakotan Aberdeen American refers to H. P. Lovecraft as "a Boston critic" and features his poem, "To Mr. Lockhart, on His Poetry." According to An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2001; p. 150) "its appearance in a South Dakota newspaper has not been located."
Comic Books and Graphic Novels
The 90 year-old mangaka Shigeru Mizuki has in his hometown of Sakaiminato, Japan hundreds of bronze statues of the monsters that he drew, a museum dedicated to his work, and a statue of himself. In 1963 he created an unauthorized manga adaptation of "The Dunwich Horror," the setting being changed to Japan. (The author of the Mizuki article, Jason Thompson, has produced H.P. Lovecraft's Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.) *** The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 1 (SelfMadeHero, 2012) visualizes six stories from a variety of artists. *** CoastConFan Blog has covers after Hergé showing Tintin encountering HPL's creations.
There's a call for proposals for "Weird Lovecraft: H.P. Lovecraft, Weird Tales, and the American Horror Canon," a pop culture conference that will be at the College of St. Joseph in Rutland, Vermont. (via SF Signal)
Did this book's author read the At the Mountains of Madness? "The expedition's members were driven mad from their inability to comprehend the scope of the experiences. Although in the story the idea of 'ancient astronauts' was introduced, there was no direct contact between the expedition and the long-dead 'aliens'" (John Cheng, Astounding Wonder: Imagining Science and Science Fiction in Interwar America [University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012], p. 347). *** For his essay "We Recommend: H. P. Lovecraft" Britisher Geoff Holder has won the THRESHOLDS International Feature Writing Competition. *** In a short article Michael Martinez asks "Was J.R.R. Tolkien Influenced by H.P. Lovecraft?"
*** Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural (Harvard University Press, 2012) by Victoria Nelson has numerous references to HPL. It may be remembered that the author also has an essay ("H. P. Lovecraft and the Great Heresies") in her previous collection, The Secret Life of Puppets (Harvard University Press, 2003). *** In a look at horror literature and nightmares (as near as I can make out) the Russian language Koshmar: literatura i zhizn' ("Tekst", 2010) by Dina Khapaeva discusses Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Nikolai Gogol, Viktor Pelevin, and Thomas Mann, as well as HPL. *** Read Michael Dirda's perceptive review of Tales (Library of America, 2005).
The Providence Phoenix has a cover story "on Providence's failure to embrace native son H.P. Lovecraft."
If you are unfamiliar with Pinterest--collected images of things found on websites--here's one dedicated to HPL.
I found in a Prague bookstore Dunwichská hrůza (B4U, 2008), a Czech translation of "The Dunwich Horror." What makes it unique is the note "Přeloženo ze španělštiny" ["translated from Spanish"]. So you have here a translation from a translation. The illustrations by the Argentinian Santiago Caruso are splendid.
I also found an HPL title in a Czech public library. Velká kniha strachu [a rough translation is The Big Book of Fear (Albatros, 2006)], a collection aimed at children, contains "Věc na prahu" ["The Thing on the Doorstep"]. (In the foregoing I may be wrong about the capitalization conventions for Czech titles.)
Matt Cardin anticipated the Lovecraft connection before the release of Prometheus, a prequel to Alien, also directed by Ridley Scott. *** The Temple (by Alex Greenfield and Michael K. Eitelman) has a horror comic format with motion comic technology and voice actors. *** In The Love Guide Parker Posey plays Angelica Lovecraft, the host of a reality show.
Taken from Abdul al-Hazred, a Syrian who is a political activist and tech revolutionary uses the nom de guerre of "Hazrid".
Among the 80 some fish emblems for your car are Cthulhu, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Alien, Cat, UFO Saucer, and Vampyre. If you don't have a car, you can get them with magnetic backings for your refrigerator, computer case, etc. *** The Lovecraftsman features the action figure Lovecraft holding a small Necronomicon.
The Oxford English Dictionary quotes S.T. and David under its entry "rolling stone" (from The H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia).
In Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting(Baylor University Press, 2011) W. Scott Poole finds that “[Herman] Melville is the ancestor of H. P. Lovecraft.” He also calls HPL an “undeniably great writer.” *** Compiler of the translated Lovecraft’s Horror Stories (Suhrkamp, 2008), German genre writer Wolfgang Hohlbein has more than 200 works to his credit. *** The 7 June entry for The Blog That Time Forgot discusses such things in Robert E. Howard’s “The Phoenix on the Sword” as the contents of the first draft having the later-excised explicit identification of “Cthulhu, Tsathogua, Yog-Sothoth, and the Nameless Old Ones."
*** In 2008 Kelly Link stated “I'm assuming I'm not the only writer out there who loves both Lovecraft and [author] Lorrie Moore. What I get when I write is some Lovecraft, plus some Lorrie Moore, hopefully plus a little of me in there as well.”
Now out is Jules Verne's The Sphinx of the Ice Realm: The First Complete English Translation; with the Complete Text of the Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe (Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press, 2012). If only the publisher had added At the Mountains of Madness.
In a letter to Playboy (January 1969) Fritz Leiber comments on a September issue interview with Stanley Kubrick, stating that his speculations--presumably in 2001: A Space Odyssey--were anticipated by Olaf Stapledon. *** Virgil Finlay has been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame (Seattle). *** Other than the names who knew of a similarity betwixt Arthur Gordon Pym and Arthur Conan Doyle? Yet like Pym Doyle sailed to the polar region of the world. This is described in Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure (University Of Chicago Press, 2012), edited by Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower. *** In May BBC radio featured a priest who discussed parallels between the hidden presence of God and Walter de la Mare's "The Listeners."
Weird Tales (Lynne Jamneck) interviews S. T. on weird fiction and Lovecraft.
Dunsany and Clarke
Yog-sothoth.com has reprinted a section from Arthur C. Clarke & Lord Dunsany: A Correspondence (Anamnesis Press, 1998) which I've further edited down. In March 1948 Clarke wrote Dunsany "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath made a considerable impression on me when I first read it some time ago. Have you ever come across any of Lovecraft's work before? As you will see from the editorial note, he was strongly influenced by your earlier writings. His output was very large, and somewhat uneven, but his best stories were masterpieces in their genre. Although they only appeared in magazine form during his life many have now been reprinted in anthologies and collections." Dunsany responded shortly "Thank you very much for the Arkham Sampler. I see Lovecraft borrowed my style, and I don't grudge it to him. Indeed, I am glad to be able to read his tales."
In March 1952 Dunsany wrote to August Derleth, who had published The Fourth Book of Jorkens (Arkham House, 1948): "I have been told of an article which I never saw in print, written about my work by the late H. P. Lovecraft, in a book published by you called Marginalia. It would be very kind of you if you would give me a copy of this book because I cannot get one here, & have an odd interest in Lovecraft's work because in the few tales of his I have read I found that he was writing in my style, entirely originally & without in any way borrowing from me, & yet with my style & largely my material. It would much interest me to see the book if you would be so kind as to send me a copy." Perhaps Dunsany was genuinely interested, or he was just being polite. Also, that Dunsany had long given up writing in that fantasy vein.
Artist Leo Dillon has died. With his wife Diane he created the cover for the album "The Rats in the Walls" (Caedmon, 1973) read by David McCallum.
Like Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury went out with a celestial event, the transit of Venus, though of course Mars would have been more fitting. SF Signal has a collection of tributes to him. *** Via Yog-sothoth.com, a touching strip shows the meeting of Bradbury with HPL, based on the earlier version of "The Exiles," which had the title "The Mad Wizards of Mars," discussed by me in 'aster 49. *** In an article about the Bradbury-Derleth correspondence, Doug Moe (Wisconsin State Journal) quotes a 1939 letter concerning Bradbury's interest in the newly published (for $5) The Outsider and Others: "I am not a rich fellow by any means [...] In fact, I make only ten dollars a week. But I will give up half of my salary any day to buy a book such as this."
Ray Bradbury is an
author of reminiscence, one who evokes childhood and its experiences. So Damon Knight title his chapter on Bradbury (In
Search of Wonder) "When I Was in Kneepants". But
those who pay tribute to him also seem to associate Bradbury with their own
childhood or adolescence. For such, sentiment affects the literary judgement that many show for his work and the man himself.
My surmise is that part of the reason for Bradbury's popularity is that his
work was early able to get into school libraries when others--say Asimov--would
have a harder time gaining entry with their adult science fiction.
While I know I encountered Bradbury in high school--or maybe junior high--I cannot point to the book or story that captivated me as I can with HPL. My guess is The Best Science-Fiction Stories: 1952, which had "The Pedestrian." His talent was of sufficient impressiveness to persuade me to buy several paperback titles that he authored. One of his stories even made it into a school text of assigned readings ("The Flying Machine").
He lived long enough to not only gain acceptance for the genre--which in some ways rode his coattails--but also to become for decades an institution, which HPL has achieved recently. When readers talk about Bradbury they gravitate to a handful of books from the late forties to the mid sixties. These are Dark Carnival (retitled The October Country), The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes (based on a story "Black Ferris"), Dandelion Wine, and the politically correct Fahrenheit 451 (based on "The Fireman"). Whether his writing after that falls into obscurity time will determine. In the 1970's or maybe later Harlan Ellison wrote of an unnamed living author (Bradbury, I guessed) who retained an imagination as dark as ever, but no longer had a vital something in his art.
In the forest of pulp, Bradbury was the last living redwood, surviving long after Lovecraft, Smith, Howard, Chandler, and Hammett. With him goes the last major talent who appeared in Weird Tales, and maybe the last of the writers who made a name for themselves in its pages--or perhaps somebody can correct me?
The Cabin in the Woods
This satiric-edged horror movie is about horror movies. Whether there's a bow to the Lovecraftian is uncertain. Part of the revelation near the end of the story involves sacrifices to "giant, evil gods." While the concept was popularized by HPL, that doesn't mean its use is an intentional reference. As strong a case can be made that the story owes a lot to Philip K. Dick, with bureaucratic technicians manipulating reality.
Is it the At the Mountains of Madness killer that director Guillermo del Toro claims it to be? I don't think so. Only one scene reminded me of the novel. Early on the explorers are in an alien ship's passage looking at illustrations on the walls and learning some history of those who drew them. Other than that, the comparisons have to be looked for. In Prometheus--with a perverse take on the Dawn of Man section in 2001: A Space Odyssey--aliens created humankind, while in AtMoM the Old Ones were behind life forms, but Lovecraft presented it satirically ("It interested us to see in some of the very last and most decadent sculptures a shambling, primitive mammal, used sometimes for food and sometimes as an amusing buffoon by the land dwellers, whose vaguely simian and human foreshadowings were unmistakable.") While creation and the creator (called "Engineers") are the centerpiece of Prometheus, the idea comes close to a throwaway gag with Lovecraft.
There may be general touches that can be considered Lovecraftian. There is the menacing, weird atmosphere often successfully depicted when the humans venture in the ship. Much of this is conveyed thanks to the striking visuals. I guess there is also the sense that humanity is small and the cosmos is prodigious, and what is fathomable is hostile.
Looking at it as a movie, I find it weakest points involve tired story elements and unconvincing characterizations. A scientist privileged to see a new world would be highly appreciative of his (her) position and passionate to know more. These "scientists" are more concerned with money and sexual attachments, and act like jerks. Nor are the crew convincing as a set of professionals.
1851 in "The Haunter of the Dark"
Robert Blake discovers that reporter Edwin M. Lillibridge has died in 1893. The notebook found on his body gave a potted history of the Starry Wisdom church edifice. It concludes
"181 persons leave city before end of '77 -- mention no names.
"Ghost stories begin around 1880 -- try to ascertain truth of report that no human being has entered church since 1877.
"Ask Lanigan for photograph of place taken 1851..."
A logical interpretation of the final item is that Lanigan is a photographer for Lillibridge's newspaper and has taken and presumably had published photographs of the Starry Wisdom church building as a result of the church's suspect activities. If Lanigan is not a photographer one supposes that he can lay his hands on the photograph from 1851. However, there are problems with this date.
In 1851 photography was in its infancy and newspapers were not using photographs in their publications, as a visit to newspapers of this period show. I've looked at the New York Times and found no photos. To quote Wikipedia: "The practice of illustrating news stories with photographs was made possible by printing and photography innovations that occurred between 1880 and 1897. While newsworthy events were photographed as early as the 1850s, printing presses could only publish from engravings until the 1880s." So the most reasonable explanation--Lanigan as an 1851 news photographer--founders. Even if he were not a photographer, the inquisitive reader would have to put up a superstructure of speculation that Lanigan could lay his hands on a photograph from a time when photographs themselves were rare.
HPL states that the reporter's badge displayed "the old Providence Telegram." There was no Providence Telegram. There was The Evening Telegram, first published in Providence in 1880, ceasing under this title in 1906. Some time before, the publisher C.C. Corbett & Co. changed to the Providence Telegram Publishing Company, so one can see why HPL put the title the way he did. Possibly around his boyhood household the newspaper was referred to as the Providence Telegram. According to the vast bibliographic database WorldCat, in the early 1930's the newspaper's title was The Providence Evening Telegram, which may have added to the confusion. If the title was not a mis-remembrance, he may have been deliberately obfuscatory in order to create a fictitious newspaper that seemed to be real.
If Lovecraft was thinking of The Evening Telegram, which began in 1880, it is plausible that the presumably make-believe Lanigan was a photographer for this paper; and let us suppose that as a result of the ghost stories ("around 1880") he photographed the building, say in 1881. In 1893 (his year of death) Lillibridge may have remembered the ghost story notoriety and decided to investigate.
There is a third reason why the year 1851 is questionable. Take a look at the history of the church on the reporter's list (which I have not quoted in full, but can be found online or in whatever text you possess). It is composed of 17 separate lines of information, beginning with "Prof. Enoch Bowen home from Egypt May 1844 -- buys old Free-Will Church in July -- his archaeological work & studies in occult well known" and ending with the phrases already shown. All of the items are dated, and those are placed in chronological order. The exception is "Ask Lanigan for photograph of place taken 1851...". Logically, it should have appeared as follows:
"7 disappearances 1848 -- stories of blood sacrifice begin.
["Ask Lanigan for photograph of place taken 1851...]
"Investigation 1853 comes to nothing -- stories of sounds."
Yet the ellipsis after "1851" suggests the final position is the correct one, the place where the author trailed off. So as presented, the chronology of "1851" is wrong. A date after 1880--the previous entry--and no later than 1893--the date of Lillibridge's death--would fit the historic narrative.
I've suggested the date "1881" because it comes after the approximate date of the ghost stories, 1880, and a typo of a single digit--from "5" to "8"--is the simplest explanation. It could also be "1891," though why a photograph of the church would be taken then is less explicable. When typos are numbers they present a special problem. A misspelling of a word is typically obvious, but a number may be far less so. It may not be possible to detect, for example, a date typo that is off by years and does not suggest narrative inconsistency.
I hope to have shown that there is enough evidence to make suspect the year presented as "1851". From a history perspective, there is little chance a newspaper photograph of the church existed then; that a photograph by the Telegram would most likely have been taken from 1880 and after, assuming Lovecraft meant The Evening Telegram, which had begun publication at the start of that decade; and the fact that "1851" is out of chronological order. My solution of replacing "1851" with "1881" may not be satisfactory, but keeping the text at "1851" is no less so.
What for the visions of the night? Our life is so safe and regular that we hardly know the emotion of terror. Neither public nor private violence, neither natural catastrophes, as earthquake, volcano, or deluge; nor the expectation of supernatural agents in the form of ghosts or of purgatory & devils and hellfire, disturb the sleepy circulations of our blood in these calm, well spoken days. And yet dreams acquaint us with what the day omits.--Ralph Waldo Emerson (Emerson in His Journals, p. 282)
Keep out of the Past. It is haunted: ...
In place of its beautiful rivers,
Are pools that are stagnant with slime;
And these graves gleaming white in a phosphoric light,
Hide dreams that were slain in their prime.
"Keep out of the Past"--Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Following is one answer to the question, Is H. P. Lovecraft readable?
Thanks for reading the 7,800 words of issue 73 of The Criticaster (Summer 2012, Esoteric Order of Dagon mailing 159) by Steve Walker. In Georgia font, size 11. Eventually published on the Net as The Limbonaut (no 44).