Who wrote this book and when?
The acclaimed horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft published this novella in serialized form first in 1936.
Has there been a movie made from it?
There was a movie made with the same title but the two are unrelated. However, Guillermo del Toro (Mimic, Pan’s Labyrinth) is making his own version of the film that he says will be very closely following the book’s plot.
Who are the main characters?
Professor William Dyer – a geologist who is part of an expedition from Miskatonic University to the Antarctic, he is also the narrator
Dr. Lake – a biologist who is part of the team
Pabodie – the inventor of a new type of geological drill, part of the expedition
Danforth – a man who accompanies Dyer on the search for Gednes, later has a nervous breakdown
What’s it about?
This story is told in past progressive form – Professor Dyer is recalling the events of the Miskatonic expedition to Antarctica under the pretense of warning another group of explorers who is planning to visit the same location. He relates most of the story to us in a reluctant tone of voice – what he and his cohort, Danforth, experienced was highly traumatic. Danforth has since had a complete mental breakdown.
The group arrived with 20 scientific members as well as the crew necessary to direct the two large boats down to the continent of ice. The party was traveling down there in search of new archaelogical discoveries by means of new drilling technology. A much more powerful and efficient ground drill had been invented by a man by the name of Pabodie, who also accompanied them on this expedition.
They establish several bases to work from; one at the main boats, and one about six or seven hundred miles south of the boats. After finding a few interesting rock samples at the bases of a few mountains (and a lot of boring geographic reading…) they find a strange triangular imprint in a rock sample. Lake, the company’s biologist, is more and more intrigued by this specimen and eventually sets out on a westward mission with his own team. He dates the triangular imprint at 500 hundred million to a thousand million years old.
From here on out, we are thrown into a situation which is completely unbelievable (which makes it a story!) and will completely rewrite earth’s history. Dyer and Danforth experience things which will change them forever and are so horrific, some of them they cannot even express.
Why is this book a classic?
This book is supposed to be the classic of classic horror/sci fi novels. It is a cult classic because it has, in a sick sense, established a new religion. Many people have … I don’t want to say converted, that’s not the right word, but … supported the ideology that Lovecraft espoused in many of his books – the Ctulhu mythology. Basically, it claims that life was created by indifferent alien races – there is nothing supernatural in existence. The history explained on the walls of the star-shaped rooms of the Elder ones is one of the most detailed explanations of their “theology” that Lovecraft ever provided.
Why should I read this book?
Unless you’re really into deep sci fi mythology, I wouldn’t really recommend this one. It’s classified as horror, but it didn’t frighten me. And I scare easily.
Has it won any awards?
“Little by little, however, they [the mountains] rose grimly into the western skey; allowing us to distinguish various bare, bleak, blackish summits, and to catch the curious sense of fantasy which they inspired as seen in the reddish antarctic light against the provocative background of iridescent ice-dust clouds. in the whole spectacle there was a persistent, pervasive hint of stupendous secrecy and potential revelation. It was as if these stark, nightmare spires marked the pylons of a frightful gateway into forbidden spheres of dream, and complex gulfs of remote time, space, and ultradimensionality. I could not help feeling that they were evil things – mountains of madness whose farther slopes looked out over some accursed ultimate abyss. That seething, half-luminous cloud background held ineffable suggestions of a vague, ethereal beyondness far more than terrestially spatial, and gave appalling reminders of the utter remoteness, separateness, desolation, and aeon-long death of this untrodden and unfathomed austral world.” – p30
This was supposedly the basis for the video game “Eternal Darkness.” I don’t really see it. Maybe if I read more Cthulhu mythology – but I don’t really want to. And the Necromonicon book mentions in this book is actually something he wrote about this mythology. I suppose that would be something that’s in the game. *shrugs*
This book was sooooo insanely boring for the first few chapters. It was hard to stand it. But I kept at it because its so short. After Lake moves into his expedition, it got a little better. I’ll admit, I was intrigued by the concept of the book, but I was also overwhelmed by all the technical stuff that got in the way. It seemed this story could have been told with a lot less words. (What can I say, I’m a blunt and efficient person…) Once the story got going, I liked it, but at the point where the modern novel would really start becoming something you could sink your incisors, canines, bicuspids, AND molars into…the men run away and the story ends. *snaps* Just like that. Maybe I’m just ingrained with the idea that if there’s a chance for special effects you should exploit it. Thanks a lot, Hollywood…