“Through the Gates of the Silver Key”

The Lovecraft series continues.

Raw Feed (2006, 2016): “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”, H. P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price, 1932 — 1933.277a820dd7a0f4d98d1dd010.L

I am curious as to how much Price contributed to this story.

There is a coherence here in tying this story and the cosmic voyages of Carter to not only the rationalistic background of the Cthulhu Mythos and also the Dunsanian dream stories of Lovecraft, much more coherence than the earlier “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath“.

To be sure, the links and explanation still are fairly loose though the story links pretty tightly to the other Carter stories making it quite clear that we’re talking about the same character. I suspect that the concept of a universe with stories set in different times with different characters yet featuring consistent geographies, histories, technologies, and concepts, came along after Lovecraft. Heinlein’s Future History may be the first.

The idea of other dimensions, other times, other worlds is rationalized via the analogy of conic sections. As a three dimensional cone takes on different appearances in a plane depending on how you cut it, so other dimensions and their beings look different to us depending on how they are projected into our world. Price may have come up with this idea.

On the other hand, the Lovecraft who the same year would write “The Dreams in the Witch House” with its combination of quantum mechanics, black magic, and non-Euclidean geometry was certainly capable of doing so as well.

This story may be Lovecraft’s first development of the bodyswitching idea since it is from 1932-1933 and “The Thing on the Doorstep” (1933) and “The Shadow Out of Time” (1934-1935) came later. However, it isn’t exactly bodyswitching since the consciousness of Carter and Zkauba, “wizard of Yaddith”, fight for control of the latter’s body.

Certainly, whoever contributed what, this story opened up a framework for unlimited cosmic adventure anywhere at any time.  While neither author exploited (at least Lovecraft didn’t, I don’t know much about Price) the possibilities in this, the direct sequel to “The Silver Key”, Brian Lumley certainly gave it a try in his five volume Titus Crow series.

On the second reading of this story, it felt a bit bloated in parts.


More Lovecraft related reviews are indexed on the Lovecraft page.

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