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At the Mountains of Madness
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At the Mountains of Madness

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 498 comments Not sure why no one's initiated this thread yet, but I'm glad to get the ball rolling.

If I had to describe the book in one word, that word would be -- Cyclopean. Or possibly decadent. Definitely one of those.

Pros: Gradually unfolding horror. The history of a culture told entirely through sculpture and murals. Narrator Dyer's believable conveyance of his own fascination, then fear, awe, and... empathy?

Cons: Cumbersome and repetitive prose. Emphasis on biology, geology, and pre-history is understandable in a tale told from explorer-scientists' POV, but it made for long stretches of very dry reading. No truly memorable characters.

This was my first long-form Lovecraft exposure. My understanding is that he created a mythos of Cthulhu/Necronomicon/The Old Ones, to which many of his stories self-refer.
In ATMOM, the frequent references to names, places, books, etc., which are familiar in this world -- but entirely of Lovecraft's creation -- give the story a texture that the long descriptive passages do not.

Overall impression: Sluggish in parts but well worth the trouble. This was a very different "horror" story from what I'm used to, having cut my teeth on Barker and King. Enjoyed it, but not sure when I'll return to Lovecraft's world.

Next?


message 2: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (last edited Oct 30, 2011 11:18PM) (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
We kinda jumped the gun and made the "Halloween's a Scream" thread that absorbed most of the pre-reading talk.
I'll second your analysis. I dug it, but wouldn't recommend for first-time readers. There were times in the first third or so, where I was anxiously turning the page, but that definitely ground to halt once the archaeology kicks in.
If someone asked me what to read to see if the dig HPL, I'd say "The Statement of Randolph Carter," "The Haunter of the Dark," "Dreams in the Witch House," and "The Whisperer in Darkness."
Thanks again for gracing us with your presence, Jim. You set the bar high for any future guests!
Have a great Halloween.


message 4: by Dave Alluisi, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dave Alluisi | 1047 comments Mod
Hey, Jim. As you'll hear in the podcast, we all pretty much agreed with your assessment of Mountains. Moments of inspiration, a lot of creepy atmosphere and world-building that proved ultimately unsustainable in a long-form project. Thanks for your thoughts, man.

It was really cool hearing Jim Nelson's voice for the first time last night. We've had many conversations over the years, but have never chatted live. Thanks again, Jim N!


message 5: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Jeepers Creepers! I forgot one. We never mentioned it by name or anything, but we definitely alluded to this collection a couple times, indirectly:
Cthulhu - The Mythos and Kindred Horrors by Robert E. Howard
This is my favorite non-Lovecraft mythos stuff.


message 6: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim N | 8 comments It was my pleasure, gents. I appreciated the invitation and I really enjoyed participating in the discussion. I hope people will enjoy listening to it.

Thanks for including the link to my blog above, Matt. I can't believe I blanked on my own Twitter handle last night. LOL! Thanks for the assist.

As for the best stories to introduce people to HPL, I agree that ATMOM isn't an ideal introduction. Matt, the tales you listed above are definitely good starters, although I think I'd substitute "The Dunwich Horror" or "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" for "The Whisperer in Darkness". Everybody would probably choose something a little different...

By the way, the people who created that "Call of Cthulhu" silent movie filmed "Whisperer" as their next film project. However, it's a "talkie":

http://www.cthulhulives.org/Whisperer...

It's already premiered at a film festival and is due to be released on DVD this fall. Fun!


message 7: by Jason, Walking Allergen (last edited Oct 31, 2011 02:51PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "Cons: Cumbersome and repetitive prose."

Lovecraft obviously isn't known for the sparkling nature of his prose, but I do think there are some stories that have some pretty effective writing. Those moments are few and far between in ATMOM, though.

One stylistic thing that really bugs me about his writing is that, for a guy who's known for a verbose writing style, he really could have used a Thesaurus. Once he finds an adjective he likes, it seems to become inseparable from the noun he first used it with. In "The Haunter of the Dark", he almost never refers to the downstairs tenant without also mentioning his "whining prayers."

Nice work with all the links, Matt! Instead of racking my brain trying to remember a fraction of the stuff we talked about for the show notes, I should have looked here instead.

Jim N., I'm glad we've been able to move our conversations, always a highlight of my 2+ years over at the Forum That Shall Not be Named (okay, it's 11 o'clock comics...), to a new venue. You're welcome anytime, here and on the show.


message 8: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
The episode is HERE.


message 9: by Robert (last edited Oct 31, 2011 08:33PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Robert (vernson) | 592 comments Cyclopean effort, guys!!

Seriously, enjoying the episode as I'm typing this so I want to thank you all for doing this. I also want to congratulate and thank Jim for appearing on the podcast. It was great to hear him and listen to his insights on the ATMOM.

I agree with the sentiments shared about this tale. It seem a bit long-winded at parts, in particular, while they were meandering through the maze. True, his writing reflected this in a way, but it got a bit too tedious for my taste. And to be honest, I was a bit relieved to hear everyone feel this way to some extent, as this was my first time reading ATMOM. I also couldn't help but ruminate about the comparisons to John Carpenter's The Thing while reading the story which is only a good thing, in my opinion.

My first exposure to Lovecraft was probably through Call of Cthulhu also. Still my favorite RPG because of the flexibility in it's core rule system compared to other RPG'S, but since my first experience, I'd say it still creeps around my soul.

The Dunwich Horror, Pickman's Model, Music of Erich Zann, and The Haunter of the Dark rate high on my list of read Lovecraft tales.


message 10: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (last edited Nov 01, 2011 07:32AM) (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Thanks, Robert! Glad you enjoyed the show. We sure had a blast making it.
Here's the Michael Whelan art Jim & I were discussing.

And here's the '70s cover artist I was thinking of. His name is John Holmes (not him!) and I've always loved his weird Lovecraft paintings


message 11: by Dave Alluisi, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dave Alluisi | 1047 comments Mod
One more link: the oft-mentioned Nicholas Roerich's online art museum site. A fascinating guy. Loads of art and writing there, so you can get an idea of what Lovecraft was talking about.

http://www.roerich.org/


Robert (vernson) | 592 comments I agree with the comment, and I am paraphrasing here, that Lovecraft is at his greatest when leaving the dark as the dark, and not trying to describe what lurks within. The readers' imagination is left to fill the void left by the ambiguous text, and I believe it is then that it is most frightening.

"What's around the corner?" or "What lurks beneath the waves?" becomes more suspenseful when left with the aftermath or effects of that "thing" that is often felt but never seen.


message 13: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)


message 14: by Jim (last edited Nov 02, 2011 11:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 498 comments Damn, this thread has become Hotlink Central, and I have one to add.

Matt, that Vincent Price "To Raise the Dead" clip brought me way back to my childhood. Every Halloween I would take out this LP (yes, I said "LP," I'm fucking old, okay?!) from my library and get good and freaked out. I haven't thought of that in at least 25 years. So a million thanks to Matt.


message 15: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "I haven't thought of that in at least 25 years. So a million thanks to Matt."
Yay! That made my day. Really glad you dug it. It was fun to make.


message 16: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "Damn, this thread has become Hotlink Central, and I have one to add.

Matt, that Vincent Price "To Raise the Dead" clip brought me way back to my childhood. Every Halloween I would take out this L..."

My response to this disappeared. Weird. I said that I have mp3s of that LP and all of the Vincent Price Caedmon LPs if you need them.


message 17: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Oh, and Dave? I was wrong. Oliver Onions was a pen name for George Oliver. I think you should read the story "Beckoning Fair One." Pretty sure you'd dig it. I found it to be genuinely creepy and psychologically complex. It's easily found online (PD).


message 18: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 498 comments Matt wrote: "My response to this disappeared. Weird. I said that I have mp3s of that LP and all of the Vincent Price Caedmon LPs if you need them. "
You are teh awesome, as the kids say.

And your post did not disappear. Robert and you responded to my Price album recollection in the Halloween thread.

Glad to hear from you post-surgery; hope you're doing well.


message 19: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "Matt wrote: "My response to this disappeared. Weird. I said that I have mp3s of that LP and all of the Vincent Price Caedmon LPs if you need them. "
You are teh awesome, as the kids say.

And your ..."


Painkiller fog. Sorry, bro. :)


message 20: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Jim's description of The Resurrected was spot-on: it was dated (late '80s), low budget, and very faithful to the story ("The Case of Charles Dexter Ward") and spirit of HPL. We enjoyed it.


message 21: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
I watched as much of the face removal scene in Dagon today on Youtube as I was able. Yeah, I made the right call years ago not watching that. It was NASTY.


message 22: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (last edited Dec 06, 2011 02:17PM) (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
I'm raising my child Lovecraftian (except for the race/ethnicity stuff, I'll use that as an opportunity for a history lesson). ;)
What a great place to start her off:
"The Call of Cthulhu" a la Dr. Seuss: http://drfaustusau.deviantart.com/gal...


message 23: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 498 comments Matt wrote: "I'm raising my child Lovecraftian (except for the race/ethnicity stuff, I'll use that as an opportunity for a history lesson). ;)
What a great place to start her off:
"The Call of Cthulhu" a la Dr. Seuss: http://drfaustusau.deviantart.com/gal... "


Matt, I don't know how you find this stuff, but I'm awfully glad that you do.

Where is that goddamned Karma button???


message 24: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "Matt, I don't know how you find this stuff, but I'm awfully glad that you do."

I have help finding stuff like that. I bookmarked this and check it every morning while I have my first cup of coffee.


message 25: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 498 comments Nice! I love the animated comic covers by Kerry Callen, creator of Halo and Sprocket.
In fact, I recognize two of those gifs as current avatars for a couple of longtime 11 O'clock Comics forumites.

Anyway, I'll be keeping an eye out for those last few Cthulhu pages now.


message 26: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Cthulhu coloring book (slideshow)
http://marswillsendnomore.wordpress.c...


message 27: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
This sounds like a good extra-curricular read for me:
(from http://www.vanityfair.com/fanfair/jus...)
In Pym (Spiegel & Grau), Mat Johnson cleverly spins a comic satire of race in America with a sci-fi adventure story. (Imagine Kurt Vonnegut having a beer with Ralph Ellison and Jules Verne.) His hero is Christopher Jaynes, a black academic recently relieved of his job for calling bullshit on his college’s diversity committee, who is fascinated by Tsalal, a mythical land that features in Edgar Allen Poe’s freaky novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. On the premise that Tsalal, a tropical isle implausibly situated near the South Pole, not only exists but is inhabited by a lost society of African diaspora, Jaynes assembles a crew and sets sail with an Ahab-like intensity to find it and to reach the whitest place on Earth: Antarctica.


message 28: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
This came out today, y'all: http://www.tfaw.com/Profile/HP-Lovecr...


message 29: by Jeppe (new)

Jeppe (jmulich) | 315 comments I hadn't heard about Johnson's Pym, but reading over that article, it sounds just up my alley. I love Poe's original, so I'll have to add this one to my to-read list. Thanks, Matt!


message 30: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (last edited Sep 20, 2012 09:31PM) (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Does anyone do the RPG games? I haven't played one since whatever Final Fantasy was on the NES, but while looking for a Lovecrafty app for my iPad, I discovered http://cthulhuquest.com/web. I don't really know much about it, but it said you go on campaigns with friends. I made an investigator (journalist Carter DeKinsey) but haven't had a chance to read over any of the FAQs or anything yet. If anyone's down with facing down man's utter insignificance and ultimate annihilation and losing his/her sanity with me, drop me a line.


message 31: by Jason, Walking Allergen (last edited Sep 20, 2012 09:42PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
I would kill (nameless horrors) for a chance to play a Lovecraftian RPG with friends. I know Jeppe has played Chaosium's game in the past.

This doesn't look too promising, though. It's Facebook based (strike one), I don't have an i-anything (strike two), and the last update for an unfinished game was a year and a half ago. :( (I'm out, reluctantly)


Robert (vernson) | 592 comments Cthulhu is my fave, yo!

I will actually be playing a Cthulhu campaign with some college mates next weekend, including the Keeper, who will actually be directing via his computer as we use google plus.

We've used this in the past with very good success.

I forget the software which is akin to a very basic drawing program he, the Keeper, uses. But for certain applications such as mapping, it has been extremely beneficial.

Things such as character sheets have simply been duplicated and so both the player and keeper have copies and those have been rolled live usually and on the first day of the campaign though there wouldn't be any reason to not create a character in advance.


message 33: by Dave Alluisi, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dave Alluisi | 1047 comments Mod
Even though I've never played an RPG to completion, it probably wouldn't be too difficult for us to design our own Lovecraft-inspired RPG. Basically, no matter who you are or what you do, you go bonkers in the face of inevitable doom. The winner of the game would be whoever has the least flesh flayed off their body by tentacles, I guess.


Robert (vernson) | 592 comments Dave wrote: "Even though I've never played an RPG to completion, it probably wouldn't be too difficult for us to design our own Lovecraft-inspired RPG. Basically, no matter who you are or what you do, you go bo..."

Are you SURE you've never played?! HA!


message 35: by Jeppe (new)

Jeppe (jmulich) | 315 comments Oh man. I love the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, as well as many of the various and sundry other Lovecraft-inspired games out there. I even wrote most of a manuscript for a sourcebook to the game, basically an alternative setting in 17th century London. Then graduate school happened and I lost any and all free time.

I participated in a CoC session using Google+ about a year back, it's really ideal for such things! Hope you have a smashing time, Robert :)


message 36: by Robert (last edited Sep 21, 2012 11:16AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Robert (vernson) | 592 comments Jeppe wrote: "Oh man. I love the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, as well as many of the various and sundry other Lovecraft-inspired games out there. I even wrote most of a manuscript for a sourcebook to the ga..."

Thanks, Jeppe!

One aspect about roleplaying that too often is overlooked by any and many "outsiders" is the healthy camaraderie which occurs. I've been playing Cthulhu for roughly 25 years, on and off, with roughly the same group of friends. It's an excellent opportunity to play catch up with old friends. It's quite amazing to reflect upon our lives and how much things have changed personally during that span and yet still drawn together by this silly little experience call CAll of Cthulhu roleplaying.

I'd love to start a Cthulhu group with our goodreads group some day! There is always room for more madness in my life.


message 37: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Playing with Google+, that's interesting; kind of the modern day equivalent of play by mail (but obviously quicker.)

If we ever got a few people interested in playing, I'd definitely be down for that.


message 38: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Currently reading Fall of Cthulhu, Vol. 2: The Gathering. I saw that a GR user gave it two stars. His review starts out this way: "I had my doubts when I picked up Fall of Cthulhu: The Gathering at the public library. Maybe there was something I missed, another volume that I could've read before picking up The Gathering..." He then goes on to say it didn't make sense and isn't very true to HPL and blah, blah, blah. Um, guy? There was another volume you could've read. It's called volume ONE , moron-athon!

Another 2-star review (complete): This was gruesome and creepy. I'm not sure I'll read any more of these.

Wow.


message 39: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
I don't like gruesome, creepy things and so this gruesome, creepy thing isn't very good. I'll give it two stars.

This is why I don't put any stock in user reviews, on any site. Ever want to slit your wrists, try the ones on Metacritic. "I'm giving this a zero to balance out the high reviews that [company here] bought."

I'm pretty sure I freaking adored volumes 2-4 of FOC.


message 40: by Dave Alluisi, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dave Alluisi | 1047 comments Mod
Ha ha ha ha ha maybe there was something I missed ha ha ha ha....


message 41: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
That's always been a peeve of mine, when reviewers should recuse themselves from reviewing, but press on bravely anyway. "I've never liked ska music. I always found the music itself obnoxious and the culture around it ridiculous, so I was not looking forward to writing up the new Ska-ingtons' album..."
I have been the guy on the other side of that review. It sucks.


message 42: by Jeppe (new)

Jeppe (jmulich) | 315 comments I can't help but be reminded of this:
http://xkcd.com/937/


Robert (vernson) | 592 comments Matt wrote: "Currently reading Fall of Cthulhu, Vol. 2: The Gathering. I saw that a GR user gave it two stars. His review starts out this way: "I had my doubts when I picked up Fall of Cthulhu: The Gathering at..."


I may have to find this collection.

I recall reading the first trade-ish some years ago, upon its initial release into the world, but it seems worthwhile going back and reading its conclusion.

If you haven't seen it, here is a post from another thread;

Matt wrote: "I just re-read the first volume of 'Fall of Cthulhu' (it makes me really happy that auto-complete suggested 'Cthulhu' to me) and picked up the 2nd one from the library. I think I liked it as much t..."

Was that Andrew Ritchie on art duties for the Dreamland sequences? If so, yes, my favorite illustrations in that series. He also illustrated, Pieces of Mom, written by Steve Niles. Not sure if you've read that one, but yowzas, disturbingly beautiful stuff.

http://undercard.typepad.com/.a/6a010...

I think you can still download a free pdf of Pieces of Mom at Steve Niles' website.

http://www.steveniles.net/2011/10/hap...

Pleasant dreams!


message 44: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Yes, Robert, it was ANdrew Ritchie'e Dreamland sequences that really impressed me. I'll check out that PoM by Niles & Ritchie soon. Thanks.


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