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H. P. Lovecraft

"Arthur Jermin"
(also as "Facts Concerning...")
© The Wolverine, 1921
The Lurking Fear, 1971
--/ cool f story


"At the Mountains of Madness" (nv)
(Cthulhu Mythos)
© 1931, original
Astounding Stories, Feb 1936
novel: 1939, Gollancz
--/ third place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award
--/ shock value

Talking about an H. P. Lovecraft book is -- to paraphrase that old chestnut -- like singing about food, or writing about music. What makes it doubly difficult is that so many others have tried: Lovecraft’s probably been analyzed and dissected more than any other fantasy author. So much so that a comprehensive review has also to mention every other review, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

But putting aside the difficulty of a review, and every other review, At the Mountains of Madness is still a brilliantly told horror story. Best of all, it’s almost a "perfect" Lovecraft story, combining everything that makes Lovecraft … well, ‘Lovecraftian:’ constant impending dread, mysteries beyond time and space, characters driven to the brink of -- and then beyond -- insanity, science knocking at the doors of the nightmarish unknown, and tantalizing clues to a star-and-time-spanning mythology.

Told by William Dyer, of Lovecraft’s ubiquitous Miskatonic U (“Go Pods!”), At the Mountains of Madness is about an expedition to Antarctica, which, in 1936, might as well have been the dark side of the moon. While there, Dyer and the other members of the expedition encounter various dreads and haunting mysteries (this is Lovecraft after all: specifics isn’t what he’s all about) until they discover an ancient city and with it, the horrifying secret of the Elder Things, the once-great-but-now-extinct terrifying rulers of time and space.

For a book written more than 70 years ago, At the Mountains of Madness still has a dreadful power. Like the tomes so often mentioned by Lovecraft, the novel crawls under the skin before twisting around the knots of the spine before working its way to the brain and then straight into the mind. Hallucinatory and haunting, the book reads more like a narrative nightmare than what most people think of when they think of a novel.

What’s particularly interesting about At the Mountains of Madness is how it forms a ‘bridge’ between Lovecraft’s mythology. Before it, his "horrors from beyond" were more mythological, but with At the Mountains of Madness he instead moves in a more science fictionlike direction -- a change many other reviewers have called extremely significant for his very long-lasting popularity.

Dream, nightmare, hallucination -- Lovecraft and especially At the Mountains of Madness might be hard to pin down, hard to quantify, but the work, and especially its author, remain truly great legends of horror, and not to be missed … if you want to lose sleep.
(review by author M. Christian)


© 1922, 1938, Leaves
Dagon & Others, 1965
--/ cool f story

"Beyond The Wall Of Sleep"
© 1934, Fantasy Fan
also in - 1919, Pine Cones
1938, Weird Tales
Dagon & Others, 1965
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

"The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward" (nv)
(Cthulhu Mythos)
© 1927, Weird Tales
also - Weird Tales, 1941
Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, 1943
novel: 1951, Gollancz
--/ cool dark f novel

"The Cats Of Ulthar"
(Kadath series)
© The Tryout, 1920
The Doom That Came to Sarnath, 1971
--/ cool f story

(Kadath series)
© The Rainbow, 1922
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, 1970
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

"The Colour Out Of Space"
© Amazing Stories, Sep 1927
Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Oct 1941
The Haunter Of The Dark, 1951
--short fiction: 1971 Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll /12
--novellette: Locus All-Time Poll /26

--/ third place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award

© The Vagrant, Nov 1919
Weird Tales, Oct 1923
The Lurking Fear, 1971
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

"The Doom That Came To Sarnath"
(Kadath series)
© 1935, Marvel Tales
also in - 1919, The Scot
1938, Weird Tales
1970, Bizarre Fantasy Tales
Dagon & Others, 1965
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award


"The Dream-Quest of
Unknown Kadath" (nv)
© 1926, original
Arkham Sampler, 1948
Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, 1943
At The Mountains Of Madness, 1968
--/ FIRST place f novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award
--/ awesome scale

Reading this novella was a peculiar experience - a dream, or rather a trance, with sights floating by, wonder upon wonder, written in ornate, intensely descriptive prose; a narrative that - if you let it - will draw you in and leave you stranded inside this very dream. Which is exactly what happened to me. Can you believe it, I've never been able to finish reading it... Somewhere half-way along the quest the sheer weird beauty and the awe of thousands of wonders reached a critical mass in my head and prevented me from going further, prompting me rather to stop, to savour at length and to reflect on what I've read up to this point. Maybe one day I will try to read this book again, approaching it in a more jaded and indifferent way, and thus escaping a bizarre dream-like effect... But for now, all I can say is that nothing I have ever read before (not even Tolkien) produced such vivid images of strange worlds and stupendous exploration in my head.

H. P. Lovecraft modelled this novel upon Lord Dunsany's magical tales, and it ended up to be perhaps the ultimate in "high imaginative calorie" food. It has a minimal plot, and fulfills exactly the promise of the title: it's "a Dream Quest in a Mysterious and Haunted Land" with elements of dark and high fantasy intermingled. A painting, perhaps? A symphony? Any of these things, but not a novel per se, rather - a haunting poetry.
(review by Avi Abrams)


"The Dreams In The Witch House"
© Weird Tales, Jul 1933
At The Mountains Of Madness, 1968
--/ fourth place f novella
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

"Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermin"
(also as "Arthur Jermin")
© The Wolverine, 1921
The Lurking Fear, 1971
--/ cool f story

"From Beyond"
© The Fantasy Fan, Jun 1934
The Doom That Came to Sarnath, 1971
--/ cool f story

"The Hound"
© Weird Tales, 1924
Dagon & Others, 1965
--/ cool f story

"In The Vault"
© Weird Tales, Apr 1932
also in - 1925, The Tryout
The Lurking Fear, 1947
--/ cool f story

"In The Walls Of Eryx"
(with Kenneth Sterling)
© Weird Tales, Oct 1939
Dagon & Others, 1965
--/ fourth place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

"Innsmouth Clay"
(with August Derleth)
(Innsmouth / Dagon series)
© Dark Things, ed. A. Derleth, 1971
The Watchers Out Of Time & Others, 1974
--/ cool mer-folk sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find

"The Lurking Fear"
© Weird Tales, 1928
also in - Homebrew, 1923
Startling Mystery Stories, 1966
The Lurking Fear, 1947
--/ fourth place f novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

"The Moon Bog"
© written in 1921
Weird Tales, Jun 1926
The Lurking Fear, 1971
--/ cool f story

"The Other Gods"
(Kadath series)
© The Fantasy Fan, Nov 1933
also in - Weird Tales, Oct 1938
--/ cool f story

"The Picture In The House"
© 1924, Weird Tales
also in - 1919, National Amateur
The Lurking Fear, 1947
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

(Kadath series)
© The Philosopher, Dec 1920
Weird Tales, Dec 1937
The Doom That Came to Sarnath, 1971
--/ cool f story

"The Rats in the Walls"
© Weird Tales, Mar 1924
The Haunter of the Dark, 1951
--/ fourth place f story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ adventure award
--/ shock value


"The Shadow Out Of Time"
(Cthulhu Mythos series)
© Astounding Stories, Jun 1936
The Dunwich Horror, 1963
--/ fourth place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ awesome scale

In this particular case Lovecraft's attempt at science fiction ultimately disappoints. I approached this novella with a great expectation to find something of a magnitude of "The Mountains of Madness", but the pedantic and non-involving style of the narrative, combined with not enough tension and visuals, spoiled it for me. It is, however, a grand effort.

Here is a synopsis from Wikipedia: "It indirectly tells of the Great Race of Yith, an extraterrestrial species with the ability to travel through space and time. They switch bodies with hosts from the intended space or time destination.The Yithians original purpose is to study the history of various times and places, and they have amassed a "library city" that is filled with the past and future history of multiple races, including humans. Ultimately the Yithians use their ability to escape the destruction of their planet in another galaxy by switching bodies with a race of cone-shaped beings who lived 250 million years ago on Earth. The cone-shaped entities (now also known as the Great Race of Yith) live in a vast city in what would later become Australia Great Desert."


"The Shunned House"
© Weird Tales, Oct 1937
The Lurking Fear, 1947
--/ fourth place f novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ emotion award

"The Silver Key"
(Randolph Carter)
(Kadath series)
© Weird Tales, Jan 1929
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, 1970
--/ cool f story

"The Statement Of Randolph Carter"
(Randolph Carter)
© 1919, original
Weird Tales, Feb 1925, Aug 1937
Avon Fantasy Reader, #10 1949
At The Mountains Of Madness, 1968
--/ cool f story


"The Strange High House In The Mist"
© written in 1926
Weird Tales, Oct 1931
Dagon & Others, 1965
--/ fourth place f story
--/ wonder award
--/ emotion award

This is the mother of all "haunted house on a seashore" tales. Just try this short quote for size:

"And when tales fly thick in the grottoes of tritons, and conches in seaweed cities blow wild tunes learned from the Elder Ones, then great eager vapours flock to heaven laden with lore; and Kingsport, nestling uneasy on its lesser cliffs below that awesome hanging sentinel of rock, sees oceanward only a mystic whiteness, as if the cliff's rim were the rim of all earth, and the solemn bells of the buoys tolled free in the aether of faery".

As you can see, the wonder and mystery in this story are not confined to a singular "strange house" alone. In a most insidious way Lovecraftian tales will stay with you for hours, infusing your reality with a faery glow, and (in an even bigger measure) enhancing the shadows, till they grow to be sentient and grimly intent, bound to coalesce around you, if you do not swiftly flee into reality.


"The Temple"
© Weird Tales, Sep 1925
The Lurking Fear, 1947
--/ cool f story

Atlantis is the theme of the story, the mystery and dread associated with the lost world ruins. Somberly poetic narrative hints of the dangers of weird science and more of the trademark Lovecraft "unspeakables" (which turn out to be pretty tame after all). A curious diversion, as are all early Lovecraft efforts.
review: 30-Sep-06 (read in 1990)


"The Terrible Old Man"
© Weird Tales, Aug 1926
also in - 1921, The Tryout
The Lurking Fear, 1947
--/ cool f story

The fear of old age and eccentricities that go along with it, combined with a simple "robbery" plot and supernatural surprise at the end make for passable dark fantasy. There was a movie based on this tale; also it's the first story to make use of Lovecraft's imaginary New England setting, introducing the fictional town of Kingsport.
review: 31-Jul-06 (read in 1999)


"The Thing In The Moonlight"
© 1934, 1941, Bizarre
Dagon & Others, 1965
--/ cool f story

"Through The Gates Of Silver Key"
(Randolph Carter)
(Kadath series)
© Weird Tales, Jul 1934
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, 1970
--/ cool f story

"The Tomb"
© The Vagrant, Mar 1922
The Tomb and Other Tales, 1970
--/ cool f story

"The Tree"
© The Tryout, Oct 1921
The Doom That Came to Sarnath, 1971
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

"The Unnameable"
© Weird Tales, 1925
Dagon & Others, 1965
--/ cool f story

"What the Moon Brings"
© The National Amateur, May 1925
The Dream Cycle of H. P. Lovecraft, 1995
--/ fourth place dark f story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award
--/ rare find

"Witches Hollow"
(with August Derleth)
© 1939, original
1962, rewrite
The Phoenix Tree, ed. R. Boyer, 1974
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ emotion award
--/ shock value
--/ rare find

"The White Ship"
© The United Amateur, Nov 1919
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, 1970
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award


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"The Situation", "The Cookie Monster"
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"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.

All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

Our PERSONAL AWARDS (ratings) are highlighted in RED and PURPLE:
--/ first place :
--/ second place :
--/ third place :

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--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
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- story :
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Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
sense-of-wonder, "visual intensity" and inventiveness

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