Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1949

I was able to obtain a copy of The Arkham Sampler of Winter 1949.

It's now weakly bound, so I almost hate to read it. That's one reason I sometimes shun buying a relic because I like to read things and share them, but if I wreck it by scanning or have an accident, I feel guiilty. :\

Anyway, here's what David H Keller says: At the Mountains of Madness ... currently available in Strange Ports of Call, ed. August Derleth ... one of the few science-fiction tales by Lovecraft. The Old Gods come from a distant planet to the Earth and create new forms of life. These work for a while as slaves, but finally rebel and drive their former masters into the ocean. These Old Gods also create man and start him on his heroic, though hectic career. Here is the struggle of good and evil; it can be considered the beginning of Lovecraft's thesis that forces of evil are very terrible and would destroy mankind if ever liberated. As this story tells of the creation of the human race, it is chronologically one of the earliest time-backward tales.

Wow. It is Derleth's magazine, but I'm astonished that in just 12 years, the dualism of Mythos was so firmly entrenched. In no way do I read this kind of thing into Lovecraft, however, Keller certainly had a strong opinion - the dominant one today.

While many mention Lovecraft in this same long article (A Basic Science-Fiction Library), only Wandrei also speaks at length about Lovecraft. The Outsider and Others, by H P Lovecraft, Lovecraft's tales are unique, in that while nearly all emphasize a mood of fantasy or horror, they are based on scientific fact or principle, the violation of which forms the story-theme. Lovecraft is the most distinguished literary name among the writers who could be classified equally well among science-fiction or fantasy. His short novel At The Mountains of Madness, is the only work whose cosmic-mindedness rivals {Olaf} Stapledon's, and whose prose style is superior.

Many mention John Campbell's Who Goes There as an instant classic. Not one hint at it's nearly identical concept and theme as Lovecraft's Mountains. I have been struck by it for years, now. The idea of an alien landing in Antarctica is so similar to Lovecraft, they could be twins. Often Who Goes There is considered the third of the trilogy with Poe's Gordon Pym and Lovecraft's Mountains.

Anyway, those are some interesting excerpts from near-60 years ago.

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