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Thursday, December 13, 2012

More HPL short summaries


Celephais - This story is, I suppose, part of the Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft. In it a man, called Kuranes in his dreams (we know not what his real name is), becomes obsessed with his dream world, where life is so much nicer and more exciting than the real world. He begins spending more and more time asleep, visiting a city called Celephais that seems to represent a cross between Arabian Nights and King Arthur. Anyway, he starts taking drugs to spend more time in the dream world and eventually, in the real world, ends up a penniless junkie. A knight comes to him in real life at the end to escort him to Celephais so he can rule as their king and god. Kuranes goes with him, where he rules for all eternity. Meanwhile, his mortal body is found smashed on the rocks below a high sea cliff. Meh. I don't really like the dream world stuff. At least, not so far. However, this is a notable story for being the first mention of Innsmouth (though a diffferent Innsmouth, as it's set in the UK) and it's the origin of Kuranes, who will make a brief appearance later in "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" (which, as Lovecraft's longest work and a dream world story, I am dreading reading).

Cool Air - One of the first stories few stories I read in this collection, "Cool Air" still endures as one of my favorites. A guy who lives in this boarding house in New York develops an interest in (and a budding friendship with) the tenant above him, who turns out to be a scientist suffering from a malady that requires him to constantly be in a climate controlled atmosphere. To that end, he has invented air conditioning, using an ammonia-based cooling system. As time goes on, he requires cooler and cooler temperatures to maintain his health. In the end we find out it's because he's a zombie and he's begun rotting. It's very cleverly and descriptively written. I really like this story. I've read it twice so far and also listened to a fantastic reading provided by the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast. I imagine this will be one of the first stories I will reread after completing my journey through all HPL's writings.

The Curse of Yig - I covered this one here.

Dagon - An American prisoner of war escapes from a German u-boat and gets lost at sea. After drifting in and out of consciusness, he awakens and finds himself on what he can only surmise is an incredibly large, sludgy segment of ocean floor that has broken off and floated to the surface. He gets out and explores his surroundings. Eventually he finds a great crevasse, which he scales downward to find the facade of an enormous temple. As he watches, an ancient, cyclopean monster comes to worship at the monolithic temple. After it leaves, the man makes his way back to his boat, but his mind has snapped and he remembers little. Waking in a hospital, he is told he was found afloat in his escape boat, where there is no sign of any chunks of the ocean floor floating on the water. But he knows it was real. And it scares him almost to the point of insanity to believe that there is possibly a race of great, monstrous beasts under the sea worshiping gods of their own. Meh. It was OK. I prefer "The Temple" when it comes to undersea adventures, but we'll get to that one later. Considered together, I think the two stories complement one another nicely, and when you throw in "The Call of Cthulhu" as well, so far that's a nice collection of stories that might have a deeper (no pun intended) relationship with one another.

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