“The Trap”

The Lovecraft series continues with another one of his secondary revisions.

Raw Feed (2005): “The Trap”, Henry S. Whitehead [and H. P. Lovecraft], 1931.hm

An interesting fantasy  involving a magic mirror. I suspect Lovecraft not only provided the details of Axel Holm, master of glassmaking, science, and the occult, but also provided the many details (complementary colors, reversal of chirality, the merging of the worlds the mirror has reflected and captured) of the magic world in the mirror.

These carefully thought out details of the world and how to escape from it, the references to how Holm’s studies of the fourth dimension anticipated Einstein, not only reminded me of Lovecraft’s own “The Dreams in the Witch-House” (in fact the stories were written back to back with this one coming first), but Robert A. Heinlein’s later mathematical fantasy “And He Built A Crooked House”.

 

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“Two Black Bottles”

The Lovecraft series continues with another of ghostwriter Lovecraft’s clients.

Raw Feed (2005): “Two Black Bottles”, Wilfred Blanch Talman [and H. P. Lovecraft], 1926.hm

The main point of interest in this story about a church that falls under the sway of a devil worshipping cleric who stole and bottled the soul of the sexton who learned his secret — and the sexton in turns steals the soul of the following cleric — is that the corrupted church reminded me of those in Lovecraft’s own “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and “The Haunter of the Dark”.

S. T. Joshi says the evidence from correspondence says Lovecraft wrote the middle of the story, but he doesn’t say who plotted it.

 

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“Deaf, Dumb, and Blind”

The Lovecraft series continues with another secondary revision.

 

Raw Feed (2005): “Deaf, Dumb, and Blind”, C. M. Eddy, Jr. [and H. P. Lovecraft], 1924?.hm

This has the flavor, with its plot of its wounded protagonist — deaf, dumb, and blind — sensing some hideous presence, of an unfinished story since the horror his furious typing relates is inchoate.

 

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“The Loved Dead”

The Lovecraft series continues with another secondary revision.

S. T. Joshi’s H. P. Lovecraft: A Life (yes, I will be doing a blog post on it eventually) relates some interesting details about this.

Eddy wrote the first draft, and Lovecraft the second draft ending the story with, in Joshi’s words, “perfervid free-association”.

Lovecraft was “thoroughly delighted” with this story so much that Muriel Eddy, C. M.’s wife, said he came to their house and read it aloud. Joshi suggests Lovecraft’s lurid prose was a conscious parody.

The story gained some infamy with rumors (though Joshi’s book says he found no evidence) that the May-June-July 1924 issue of Weird Tales, where it appeared, was banned in some locations. About a decade later, a Lovecraft cryptically mentions that he had the experience of seeing a magazine with one of his client’s works being banned by the police. In fact, Lovecraft said he went to a police station “several times” about the matter.

Joshi states the story may have gotten banned in some Indiana locations.

Raw Feed (2005): “The Loved Dead”, C. M. Eddy, Jr. [and H. P. Lovecraft], 1923.hm

This 1923 story is actually a rather creepy character study in to the mind of its narrator who finds himself increasingly obsessed with the dead and energized by being around them and their funeral rites. His stints as an undertaker aren’t the only unsavory thing about him. 

Eddy and Lovecraft all but write the word “necrophilia” with

… to find me stretched out upon a cold slab deep in ghoulish slumber, my arms wrapped about the stark, stiff, naked body of a foetid corpse!  He roused me from my salacious dreams …  

The narrator eventually turns to murder to satisfy his obsession. 

An effective story that has echoes of Lovecraft’s own “The Outsider” in its alienation and “Pickman’s Model” in its ghoul obsession.

 

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Stealing Other People’s Homework: “The Wizardry of Freud”

This one is somewhat off topic but will partially explain why I have no time for Freudianism or Freudian criticism.

Ms. Schaefer does note that Freud was a skilled writer of fiction. He just didn’t call it that.

Stealing Other People’s Homework: “The Wizardry of Freud“, Margret Schaefer.

Sigmund-Freud-1926-by-Ferdinand-Schmutzer-with-signature-added-2x

 

“The Ghost-Eater”

The Lovecraft series continues with another secondary revision.

Raw Feed (2005): “The Ghost-Eater”, C. M. Eddy, Jr. [and H. P. Lovecraft], 1923.hm

A horror story using the old plot about the protagonist staying in a mysterious house at night where he sees mysterious things — not just a werewolf but a ghostly werewolf who recreates his attack on the house’s previous owner — only to discover in the morning, from the locals, that the house hasn’t existed in years.

Nothing surprising here.

 

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The Year of the Quiet Sun

Well, in America it’s the final hours of Thanksgiving.

So, how does this blog honor the occasion?

By interrupting the Lovecraft series with a cranky riposte to a recent mention of The Year of the Quiet Sun.

Raw Feed (1990): The Year of the Quiet Sun, Wilson Tucker, 1970.Year of the Quiet Sun

This is one of those minor sf classics that has not aged well. (It did win the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.).

I’m sure that, in 1970, a future of race war and conflict with China leading to apocalypse seemed imminently plausible. It seems very … quaint now, a charmingly naïve nightmare of childhood [or a not-so-charming political callowness].

To be sure, the novel does have some points of interest: the tone is lonely and bleak and the time travel mechanism is rather novel. Tucker’s contention that the Book of Revelations is an example of Hebrew “biblical fiction” using biblical concepts and characters is intriguing. The last encounter between Brian Chaney and Kathryn van Hise was poignant though their romance and the triangle of them and Arthur Saltus is rather dopey and hackneyed.

The book is almost worth reading for an oblique reference to Ronald Reagan. He is described as that “actor” who lost in a landslide presidential election in 1980 — the year Reagan won in a landslide.

However, this book commits a monumental literary sin, a colossal cheap shot ending.

We find out that our protagonist, Brian Chaney, is black just like the “Ramjets” who, in collusion with China, brought America down. Now the white folk who survived are terrified of him.

To withhold, purely for literary shock, an obvious fact which is not concealed for any logical reason and would have been evident if this story were, for instance, a movie, is a massive, unconvincing contrivance.

I think I know why he did it.

Given a tale of racial war, Tucker probably wants us to question are values of race. Here is a character treated well all throughout the book by the other characters. He is intelligent, smart, not sexually perverted.

At the end, others of the future see him as a monster.

It still doesn’t work though.

 

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“Ashes”

The Lovecraft series continues with another secondary revision.

C. M. Eddy, Jr., like Lovecraft, lived in Providence, Rhode Island, and I’ve talked a bit about him before.

Raw Feed (2005): “Ashes”, C. M. Eddy, Jr. [and H. P. Lovecraft], 1923.hm

With this story, it’s pretty obvious we’re in the “secondary revisions” section of the collection.

This story is very un-Lovecraftian in its 1920s’ slang and story of a man, working for a mad scientist, worried that said scientist has killed the game girl (She’s great in chemistry as well as beautiful!) with his superacid.

The biter-bitten plot has the scientist — whose malevolent motivations are unexplained — disolved in his own acid and the implications of his invention utterly unexplored.

As Joshi’s textual notes state, Lovecraft’s hand in this tale was very light. Eddy was a writer of many pulp stories solo.

 

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“The Horror at Martin’s Beach”

The Lovecraft series continues, but we’ve moved into what Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi calls “secondary revisions”, stories where Lovecraft’s hand is light.

Yes, it’s that Sonia H. Greene, the future Mrs. Lovecraft.

The inspiration for the story was Lovecraft and Greene strolling the beach at Magnolia, Massachusetts one evening in 1922.

The two, under a full moon hear a “peculiar and unusual noise … a loud snorting and grunting” with a rope connecting the submerged piles. Greene suggested the view could inspire an “interesting weird tale”. Lovecraft demurred and said Greene should write it, “Tell me what the scene pictures to your imagination”.”

So she stayed up that night and wrote a “general outline” which Lovecraft revised and edited.

Joshi says in H. P. Lovecraft: A Life the “wild and improbable story” of Greene’s was propped up with Lovecraft’s “typical verbal flamboyance.”

Raw Feed (2005): “The Horror at Martin’s Beach”, Sonia H. Greene [and H. P. Lovecraft], 1922.hm

It’s not a bad story.

It has, in its account of a sea monster fatally hypnotizing the men trying to drag it to shore by ropes and dragging them to their deaths in the sea, a certain weirdness which is perhaps spoiled by a rather explicit description of one of the monster’s relative in the beginning of the story.

I feel comfortable stating that he definitely wrote the penultimate paragraph which shows, in this 1922 story, typical Lovecraftian vocabulary.

 

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“The Diary of Alonzo Typer”

The Lovecraft series continues with another primary revision.

Raw Feed (2005): “The Diary of Alonzo Typer”, William Lumley [and H. P. Lovecraft], 1935.hm

This is a Cthulhu Mythos story primarily, according to S. T. Joshi, written by Lovecraft. It is another story that mentions Shub-Niggurath.

Lovecraft uses his typical device of telling the story via the diary of a man who has a fatal encounter with an entity from another dimension in a sinister old house.

 

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