The Lovecraft series continues.
Raw Feed (2005, 2013): “The Whisperer in Darkness“, H. P. Lovecraft, 1930.
I recall that Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi at one point said this was one of Lovecraft’s greatest stories. Upon the second reading, I’m inclined to agree.
It’s not only a horror story, but it also has the feeling of a creepy sf story. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu stories frequently boosted their verisimilitude with bits of science and history and literature, but Lovecraft is particularly skilled at that here.
He gives us the Outer Ones, an alien race conducting secret mining operations in the Vermont hills (sort of a predecessor to John Keel’s Mothman), and he describes their biology as well as motives. They could conquor the Earth if they wanted but aren’t about to bother unless we give them trouble. (Narrator Wilmarth and Akeley echo what must have been Lovecraft’s disdain for real estate developers when they talk about how the rural hills of Vermont must not be inhabited.) A particularly brilliant move is equating the Outer Ones’ home of Yuggoth (a favorite piece of fabulous geography in Lovecraft’s oeuvre) with Pluto which was discovered in 1930, the very year this story was written.
Lovecraft talks about how Einstein’s contention that faster than light travel is impossible is wrong. Oddly enough, he mentions the Outer Ones as flying through the ether with their wings when, of course, Lovecraft must have been aware that ether was disproved in the famous Michaelson-Morley experiment which laid the groundwork for Einstein’s work. Continue reading