Reading Wednesday

Mar. 29th, 2017 10:05 am
muccamukk: Lt Bush salutes ironically. (HH: Salute)
[personal profile] muccamukk
What I Just Finished Reading
Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie (Great Discoveries Series) by Barbara Goldsmith
This series seems to be short summaries of people's achievements, but even given that I really liked this book. It didn't have room to get very technical or go into great detail on any given era, but was well written, interesting and didn't idolise its subject.

The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution by Deborah E. Harkness, narrated by Kate Reading
This is going to be one of those books that makes me annoyed at a lot of other books. I've read a fair bit about the scientific revolution, and this is all completely new to me to the extent that I'm now irritated at all the other books I've read for not including any of it.

It's a wonderful exploration of scientific culture in the late 16th-century, including pushes to increase mathematical literacy for national economic development, collecting-comparing-publishing findings from experiments, in fights over priority and credit, and government support of large-scale scientific projects, mostly focusing on how individual practitioners fit into all this. The idea that this was all going on, and that Francis Bacon (who the author dislikes!) was more or less whining because he didn't get to be in charge of it and gentlemen shouldn't get their hands dirty doing actual work, was frankly a little mind blowing.

Really good, very enjoyably read by Kate Reading, would recommend.

Desire Wears Diamonds (Jaded Gentleman #6) by Renee Bernard
So I haven't read anything else in this series, but clearly stumbled on the best one anyway. The author sets up the intro pretty well, and then I just spent the whole book drawing hearts around Michael and Grace, so who cares about the big arc plot (other than Michael is angst about it! Oh noes!) Michael just wants to atone by dying for his friends! But then he might have to die for his wife! And he can't do both at once! It's a challenge! Grace just wants a room of one's own.

I'm not sure if I'll back read, since idk if Michael will be in them enough, and I wasn't as invested in any of the others. Will keep an eye out for Bernard stuff though.

Four Wars of 1812 by D. Peter Macleod
I think this must have made a very fine museum exhibit, but in terms of trying to get a handle on the war, it just didn't have enough information in it. The art and pictures from the display were very interesting though, and I always appreciate an O'Brian reference.

(Speaking of [as the book also mentioned Forester], just watched Captain Horatio Hornblower, RN with Nenya, since I'd seen it ten years ago, and she hadn't at all. To conclude: "Ioan Gruffudd grew up to be Gregory Peck. Bush got less gay and slightly less hot. But it works amazingly well in continuity.")

Tropical Tiger Spy (Shifting Sands Resort #1) by Zoe Chant
Fun read. It was a bit slow to start, but once the action plot kicked off, I really enjoyed it. I liked how resourceful Amber was, though Tony's agency should seriously hire her, because she's way better at spy stuff. The action (and the "action") was very well written. Could have used a little more angst.

Tropical Wounded Wolf (Shifting Sands Resort #2) by Zoe Chant
Oh there we go. THAT one is angsty enough. Enjoyed it even more than the first one (because angst!), though the plot itself was a little slower. However, I appreciate trapped in peril plots, and both characters were very likeable. I'm curious what's going on with the resort though, so I hope Zoe writes more of these. Oh and the gazelle. Really great setting for a series.

Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean by Adrian Tinniswood, narrated by Clive Chafer
Okay, look, I came into this researching English relations with pirates in the 1600s, which is what this book is about, and had the information I needed, and the Anglo-centrism STILL annoyed the crap out of me. I know that the author's area of study is England, but 100% of his sources are English, and he appears to have put zero effort into finding contemporary sources from any of the actual pirates or people who lived near them (unless they happened to be English), or anyone other than the odd note from the Venetian Ambassador to London , which leaves this book MASSIVELY one sided.

There's a lot of acknowledgement that okay, yeah, the English perspective is happening here, and that's not the whole story, and pointing out how the English were wrong about things, but very little quotes from primary sources from any other country. And we're talking Ottoman Empire here, so it's not like this stuff doesn't exist, they LOVED records.

So a lot of the information was interest, but the whole book was incredibly frustrating.

What I'm Reading Now
Audio: My Mother's Wars by Lillian Faderman about Faderman's mom living in NYC in the '20s to '40s. It's very engaging so far, though I just started it.

Library: Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812 by James Laxer, which I'm about 100 pages into and the war hasn't started yet. It's well written but also super depressing because genocide.

What I'm Reading Next
I have the next Selection book as a library e-book, so I'll probably buzz through that. I'm not sure for audio. Maybe that new romance novel about US Civil War spies.

Look at me, reading shit and all

Mar. 29th, 2017 12:58 pm
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
[personal profile] lunabee34
Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New EroticismPleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism by Deborah Lutz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this one. I knew a little bit about most of the people discussed in this book (you can't study Victorian literature without knowing bit about Richard Burton or Swinburne or the Rossettis, for example) but only the very superficial. This is a really interesting look at several loosely connected and intersecting groups of people (the pre-Raphaelites, the Cannibal Club, and the Aesthetes) and how their art and lives was focused on their sexual experiences. The book is written much more like creative non-fiction than the usual academic book, so it's incredibly readable. Every now and again, the author uses an awkward turn of phrase or says something in a confusing way or gets out her thesaurus just to remind us that we are reading the work of the erudite, but on the whole, the style is very readable and accessible and the subject matter is deeply interesting.

View all my reviews

Oronooko: The Royal SlaveOronooko: The Royal Slave by Aphra Behn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not one I'll be rereading. I somehow missed reading this college and wouldn't have read it now except that I'm teaching it. I know it's an important text, and I'm glad I've read it, but I found it very underwhelming. Also, the almost complete lack of dialogue made reading it fairly tedious.

View all my reviews
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Posted by Adam Clark Estes

Congress has moved to dismantle some Obama-era rules that would have protected the online privacy of everyday Americans. This sucks. The deregulation means it will be easier for huge telecom companies to track and sell their customers’ browsing history. This sucks! But not all is lost.


Digital Patrol defs 2017.03.29

Mar. 29th, 2017 04:37 pm
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Posted by hayc59

Latest malware definitions status
Urgent virus definition update released (EEST/UTC+2): Mar, 29 2017 18:32
Regular virus definition update released (EEST/UTC+2): Mar, 28 2017 15:32
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Posted by /u/soybeam

I made a bad experience with The Conjuring 2. I find that the movie itself was very great at the beginning and the middle part. But in the end. Oh god. How everythink was flying around and so on. I admit: As soon as i saw this i skipped everything. I just saw how he saved the kid from jumping. It's so Hollywood. I was really offended by this ending. But that's just a personal POV.

As a comparison: I loved the ending of The Babadook. I didn't expect such an ending and i found it to be very genius.

I also liked "Lights Out".

So my Q to you. Are there any movies you can recommend to me?

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beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
[personal profile] beatrice_otter
I was reading [ profile] LullabyKnell's Harry Potter notfic/meta collection (and wishing someone would actually really WRITE some of these ideas, or expand what she's got, because some of them deserve EPIC fic treatments), and came across this bit of meta on Delphi from the Cursed Child. Fair warning, my knowledge of Cursed Child is entirely fandom osmosis and not much of that. (Let's be real. 95.5% of my HP knowledge comes from fandom osmosis--I've never read the books and I know I saw some of the movies in the theater but can't remember which ones, I'm really only in it for the fanfic.)

Anyway! [ profile] LullabyKnell was reacting to an apparent trend in CC fanfic to make Delphi not actually Voldemort's kid, because someone polyjuiced into him to have sex with Bellatrix, and whoever that was is really Delphi's father. Delphi notes that:
if Delphi was conceived after Bellatrix’s breakout from Azkaban and born before the Battle of Hogwarts, then that means the biological component from Voldemort would have been from his second body. The resurrected-in-the-graveyard one that we only know to be made of a) MAGIC, b) Tom Riddle Senior, b) Peter Pettigrew, and c) Harry Potter. So is Delphi even biologically the original Tom Riddle Junior’s kid? Wasn’t that body destroyed?
Zie then goes on to speculate as to what would happen if, somewhere along the line, Harry and co. figured this out and realized that she was biologically his daughter?

My thoughts turned in a different direction.

The bones of that resurrection potion of Voldemort's came from his despised Muggle father.  And blood is made in bones, so while Harry's blood was a necessary part of the potion and no doubt provided a symbolic link, Voldemort's actual blood, once he'd been alive again for a while, all came from his bones ... which came from his father.  He is no longer a halfblood; on a biological level, he is now a muggle-born.  He has no blood connection with the Gaunts, and hence Salazar Slytherin, any longer.  (If he had realized the implications, he would have found a different way.)  There are some parts of him that come from Pettigrew, but they were mostly fuel and scaffolding.  The genetic bits came from Tom Riddle, Sr.

So he and Bellatrix have a kid.  Except that what neither of them realize is that, biologically, Bellatrix and Tom Riddle Sr have a kid.  (Really, Voldemort should consider himself fortunate that dear Bella never figured it out.  There is not much that could break Bella's loyalty to him, but causing her to bear a half-blood bastard would do it.)

But this is Bella and Voldie, here.  Not really parent-of-the-year material, and anyway, while Voldemort wanted an heir to show off, he doesn't care about them until they get old enough to get molded into what he wants.  Bella, meanwhile, even if she wanted to be a mother to the kid, is in a bit of a delicate spot with her husband, who is slightly less devoted to Voldie than she is.  So the kid gets dumped with a house elf for a nanny, while Bella and Voldemort are off fighting.  There'll be plenty of time later, right, once they've killed all those dirty mudbloods and blood traitors.

So, in the aftermath of the battle, there's a lot of mopping up to do--death eaters to chase down, DE strongholds to clear out, people to put on trial, etc.  The Trio pitch in, but Shacklebolt gives them the assignments least likely to lead to violence.  (He knows they can fight.  But he also knows they're kids and, now that the prophecy is over, they shouldn't have to.)  So that's how they're the ones clearing a DE safehouse when they come across a toddler and a house elf.

The house elf knows its master and mistress are dead, and its loyalties are free.  The house elf isn't a Black elf, so he has no loyalty to Bella that isn't compelled by its binding to her, and Voldemort's never had a house to have house elves for.  The elf's true masters were killed by Death Eaters, so he is perfectly willing--ecstatic, even!--to hand over his charge to Harry Potter, thank him for freeing him, and go off to see if he can find any relatives of his true masters.  Before he goes, he tells them everything he knows.

Harry and Ron, hearing that this kid's parents are Bellatrix Black and Voldemort himself, get grossed out.  Hermione, who knows a bit more about genetics and inheritance than the boys, gets a weird look on her face and starts doing tests.  (She has quite a strong interest in genetics and inheritance.  She has a whole lovely lecture pointing out just how WRONG and STUPID the whole pureblood notion of inheritance and blood purity is, to be used in response to a slur about mudbloods, which she's never gotten to actually use because what's the point in lecturing someone who won't understand how WRONG they are even after you tell them?)

The thing she's most worried about is that the baby might be Harry's, genetically.  That possibility would be the hardest to deal with, because of the personal implications.  But it is quickly ruled out.

A Pettigrew connection might be the best-case scenario, and it's easy to find his body, get a sample, and compare it.  That, too, is ruled out.

Hermione and Ron go back to the graveyard where Cedric was murdered without Harry.  Someone needs to watch little Delly, after all.  They get what they need.  It's a match.  Delly is, biologically, the daughter of the muggle Tom Rilddle, Sr, and thus the half-sister of Voldemort.

It's almost a good thing there are so many war orphans; Delly Riddle is very easy to slip in among them.  The story they give is completely true.  It's just missing a few details.  Delly Riddle, they say, is a muggleborn whose parents were killed by Death Eaters.  Delly Riddle, they say, was found by a witch and given over to a house elf to raise and keep safe.  That witch, they say, died in the war.  Delly Riddle, they say, has no living muggle relatives, so now she needs a new wizarding foster or adoptive family.

No eyebrows are raised.  It's a believable story, and more than they know about a couple of other very young war orphans.

(The irony is, a few years later, that one of those other war orphans with a mysterious past gets fingered as a possible Heir of Voldemort.  Nobody quite knows how the rumor starts, but once it does, people get hysterical.  The Trio watch with helpless fury, seeing what it does to that poor kid.  They do their best to dispel the rumors, frustrated that they can't prove how they know.  After all, they can't say "We know Melody Legato isn't Voldemort's kid because Delly Riddle is.")

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Posted by George Dvorsky

The giant deep-sea octopus Haliphron is so rare that marine biologists have seen it just three times in 27 years. Using a robotic sub, scientists have finally caught video footage of this animal at mealtime—revealing its distinct preference for gelatinous sea creatures.


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Posted by Patrick George on Jalopnik, shared by Sophie Kleeman to Gizmodo

No one really knows the environmental ramifications of scrapping hundreds of thousands of cheating diesel Volkswagens. That’s scary in and of itself. But the sheer scale of what’s going on is hard to imagine, and while you’ve probably seen still shots of the various places where those hordes of VWs are parked, this…


AV for Android Marshmallow?

Mar. 29th, 2017 03:55 pm
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Posted by Scott W

My iPhone 5s was a gonner so I decided to change-up and get a Samsung Galaxy S7 (Android Marshmalllow). Is it advisable to install an antivirus or other security app? ...and if so, please suggest a few good ones (preferably free).

selenak: (Bilbo Baggins)
[personal profile] selenak
In which we travel from the South lIsland to the North Island and visit the capital.

And some movie magic )
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Posted by Jason Kottke

Snails, particularly those shown in combat with knights, show up in the margins of medieval manuscripts copied around the turn of the 14th century…a sort of medieval meme that spread among scribes. In this video, Phil Edwards investigates what’s going on with those snails, drawing upon the work of Lilian Randall in The Snail in Gothic Marginal Warfare (a corker of a title for an academic work, to be sure).

Tags: books   Lilian Randall   Phil Edwards   video
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Posted by Anne M. Pillsworth, Ruthanna Emrys

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

Today we’re looking at Lovecraft and William Lumley’s “The Diary of Alonzo Typer,” first published in the February 1938 issue of Weird Tales. Spoilers ahead.

“I turned to flee, but found that vision of the titan paws before me—the great talons seeming to swell and become more tangible as I gazed. Out of the cellar’s evil blackness they stretched, with shadowy hints of scaly wrists beyond them, and with a waxing, malignant will guiding their horrible gropings.”


Editor’s notes: Occult researcher Alonzo Typer disappeared in 1908. He spent much time in India, Nepal, Tibet, Indochina and Easter Island, but his last known journey was less exotic, on the surface, being merely to a long-abandoned manor house near Attica, New York. It was built around 1760 by the van der Heyls, a family who left Albany under suspicion of witchcraft.

The van der Heyl reputation didn’t improve after relocation. Around their house rose Chorazin, a village filled with just the sort of rural folk to terrify Lovecraft’s provincial heart. Above both house and village rose a hill crowned with ancient standing stones, reviled by the local Iroquois. At certain seasons gentry and villagers gathered on the hilltop to chant, never a good sign. The rituals ceased with the 1872 disappearance of the whole van der Heyl clan. Their house stood empty and crumbling, for would-be tenants had a discouraging habit of dying, vanishing or going insane.

Typer arrived in Chorazin in April 1908. The diary of his time there, left as sort of a black box, wasn’t found until 1935, when it was excavated from the collapsed house. What follows is the diary verbatim.

Typer gets to the degraded village and dust-choked house as a storm breaks. He knows the Walpurgis Sabbat approaches and that it will be a dangerous time to spend in a witch-haunted ruin. Nevertheless, “prodded by some unfathomable urge, [he has] given [his] whole life to the quest of unholy mysteries” and comes “here for nothing else.”

He establishes “camp” in an upstairs room and starts exploring. Decay is omnipresent. More disturbing are the van der Heyl portraits, featuring people with unnaturally ophidian or porcine features. He also senses a malevolent presence, nonhuman, colossal. Semi-ethereal black paws periodically push him on the stairs, and sometimes the portrait subjects leave their frames for ghostly wandering. Villagers are supposed to bring his supplies to the estate gate. Too bad Typer can’t get there – the briars surrounding the house have merged into an impenetrable fence. Typer’s a prisoner, but an unseen someone gets through to deliver his necessaries anyway. He won’t starve before foul fate overwhelms him, probably on Walpurgis Eve.

Luckily Typer has plenty to occupy him. He uncovers a stepless chute to depths unknown. He finds obscure tomes hidden in every nook. In the fungoid basement, he stumbles on a brick vault with a locked iron door. The lock is engraved with undecipherable characters. Behind the door he hears faint padding, mutters, slithering. The unnerving sounds grow louder as Walpurgis nears, as do visits by the black paws and ghosts. And who is this Trintje van der Heyl Sleght, an “evil-faced” young woman in one of the portraits, and why does the name Sleght ring a dim bell in his memory?

The briars remain a prison wall, but allow him to climb the stone-crowned hill. Alonzo ventures to the circle, to be repelled by the monoliths’ clammy, scaly texture. Not much better is the wind that whispers around them—or is it sibilant voices?

In two separate hiding places Typer finds 1500s journals penned by Claes van der Heyl, ancestor of the New York branch. Puzzling out their ciphers, he learns about an “ancient forgotten One” who can show him the gateway he’s sought. He masters the “Seven Lost Signs of Terror” and the “unutterable Words of Fear.” With a “Chant” he can “transfigure” the Forgotten One at Sabbat time. But first he must find a way into the brick vault in the basement. It has a lock, so there must be a key.

And he finds the key, as queer an object as the lock. It’s wrapped in reptilian hide, on which is scrawled a Low Latin message in Claes’s hand. It confides that Claes has walked in Yian-Ho, the forbidden city of the primal Ones. There he learned how to “bridge a gap that should not be bridged” and to “call out of the earth That Which should not be waked or called.” Something follows him home which will not sleep until Claes or his descendent has “done what is to be found and done.” Many may be the strange “joinings” of his progeny, who’ll have to travel to some unknown land and build a house for the “outer Guardians.”

Now Typer looks on the key with “mixed dread and longing.” The night glows with green radiance, and he hears the Chorazin villagers chanting on the stone-crowned hilltop. Yet with all this going on, he’s still worried about that half-recognized name Sleght.

Walpurgis Eve. Storm breaks with “pandaemonic fury” under which the “hybrid, malformed villagers” chant and howl and leap with “diabolic ecstasy.” Typer sits in his “camp,” clutching the now-pulsing key, hearing muffled reverberations in the basement vault. Then (merciful God) he remembers! A Sleght was one of his own ancestors, a Sleght who’d married Trintje van der Heyl and thus linked him, Alonzo Typer, to the family of warlocks and nameless sin!

Must Typer finish what Claes started? He swears he will not. But too late! Black paws materialize and drag him toward the cellar.

And so, with the customary scrawl, Typer’s diary ends.

What’s Cyclopean: The old van der Heyl house is not merely filthy but “leprous.” The cellar is a “mass of nitrous encrustations” and “amorphous mounds.” House-tour vocabulary bonus for the portraits of “squamose” ladies.

The Degenerate Dutch: The van der Heyls—who are in fact Dutch—employed only servants brought directly from Africa who didn’t speak English. Clearly evil is afoot. Oh, and the Chorazin villagers are “decadent.” Also swarthy, simian-faced, Indian-like, stupid, and taciturn to a degree that baffles all students of the region. If you’re baffled by why they’d be taciturn after you describe them like that…

Mythos Making: Oh, hey, is that a sketch of Cthulhu in the van der Heyl diary?

Libronomicon: The evil thing in the house matches descriptions in the Aklo writings. Actually the family library is full of Aklo, as well as the Pnakotic Manuscripts (plural!) and the Eltdown Shards. Then there’s the trunk containing “a Greek Necronomicon, a Norman-French Livre d’Eibon, and a first edition of old Ludvig Prinn’s De Vermis Mysteriis.” Book collectors rejoice!

Madness Takes Its Toll: Four people who tried to take over the abandoned van der Heyl estate developed “cases of sudden insanity.” One later investigator develops amnesia.


Ruthanna’s Commentary

“Diary” is fundamentally a haunted house story. It would make a good B movie: idiot parapsychologist goes into the house where people meet awful fates, gets trapped by creepy townsfolk, researches his inevitable awful fate in the musty library, opens the forbidden vault, meets awful fate. Still writing, of course, in the grand tradition of “Dagon” and “Hounds of Tindalos.” (The window! Aaahhhh! Seriously, who scribbles in their notebook while being dragged away by monstrous claws?)

Although given the contents of that forbidden vault and the possibly moving portraits, maybe it’s just the dark version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?

Closer to home, this story reminds me most of “The Lurking Fear.” Objectively it’s not particularly good, and degenerate ethnic stereotypes are strewn in every possible direction, but the unselfconsciously manic flow of words still delights. When you can breathe between the degenerate Dutch lizard-men and the degenerate “simian” villagers, there’s a quick fix of cosmic horror fun to be found in the relentless onslaught of forbidden tomes, Venusian overlords, and sanity-threatening revelations.

While there’s nothing particularly original here, Lovecraft and Lumley throw in the kitchen sink. Every volume from Miskatonic’s locked stacks makes an appearance, along with the Book of Dzyan (new but seems kinda Pnakotic). Hidden cities galore: spiffy Shamballah and dread-inspiring Yian-Ho. Aliens who ruled before humanity and aliens who want to come back and rule again. Ancestral witches from Salem and Albany. The horrifying but inevitable discovery that your great-great aunt once removed was a hybrid snake-pig-human wizard.

And the bigotry. Dear lord, the bigotry. It doesn’t quite beat out either “Horror at Red Hook” or “Medusa’s Coil,” but it makes up for lack of depth with breadth. Lovecraft’s addresses his contempt to the full socioeconomic spectrum, and vaguely references all sorts of terrifying non-Anglo ethnicities. The van der Heyls are degenerate Dutch aristocrats, so degenerate that they’ve bred with inhuman civilization-destroying things a la Innsmouth. See what happens when the ruling nobles don’t take seriously their responsibility to deny reality’s true nature? The Chorazin villagers are “simian-faced,” “swarthy,” “mongoloid” hybrids, with a suspicious resemblance to American Indians. And they don’t want to talk to outsiders, the ultimate in rural horror.

The most obvious Lumley contributions are the attractive-repulsive serpent ladies in the portraits. The closest Lovecraft comes on his own to a femme fatale is Asenath Waite, or maybe Lilith, neither quite the usual thing for that category. And he never quite persuades in describing feminine beauty, let alone anyone “hellishly beautiful.” Snakes, or snakish things, creep Yig-like everywhere in this story, down to the standing stones that might, in fact, be standing serpents. Me, I used to own a boa constrictor. Snakes get a bum deal from humans most of the time, and snake/human hybrids seem likely to have it even worse. Eventually you’re going to decide that you’d rather just pour out your troubles to Cthulhu.

I still feel like mental peace and sanity are compatible with knowing about ancient alien life forms. Unless they’re just gonna eat you, which might be the case here. I also feel like you shouldn’t summon that which you’re inexplicably confident you can banish. When summoning dark and ancient beings, “just wing it” is maybe not the best plan.


Anne’s Commentary

Late in life, Lovecraft made epistolary acquaintance with William Lumley, enthusiastic fan, occult-steeped eccentric, “thwarted poet” (per HPL), and watchman at a Buffalo, New York chemical company. Howard and his inner circle found the fellow a little amusing, a little disturbing. Lumley claimed that Lovecraft and friends were “genuine agents of unseen Powers in distributing hints too dark and profound for human conception or comprehension.” Whoa, cool, because that’s kind of my fictional conceit about Lovecraft, that he knew the truth of the Mythos and sneakily leaked it in his stories. Yet core Mythosians weren’t quite sure how serious Lumley was about his belief in their invented cosmology.

Writing in 1932 to Robert E. Howard, Lovecraft confides of Lumley:

“He claims to have traveled to all the secret places of the world—India, China, Nepal, Egypt, Thibet, etc.—and to have picked up all sorts of forbidden elder lore; also to have read Paracelsus, Remigius, Cornelius Agrippa, and all the other esoteric authors whom most of us merely talk about and refer to as we do to the Necronomicon and Black Book. He believes in occult mysteries, and is always telling about ‘manifestations’ he sees in haunted houses and shunned valleys. He also speaks often of a mysterious friend of his—“The Oriental Ancient”—who is going to get him a forbidden book (as a loan, and not to be touched without certain ceremonies of mystical purification) from some hidden and unnamed monastery in India…Young Brobst (as I told you, nurse in a mental hospital) thinks a touch of real insanity is present, but I regard the case as a borderline one. I always answer his [Lumley’s] letters in as kindly a fashion as possible.”

Lovecraft did Lumley the greater kindness of revising gratis his “Diary of Alonzo Typer.” He called the man semi-illiterate, with “no command of spelling or capitalization,” yet he also found him “amazingly erudite in the lore of mediaeval magic, & possessed of a keen & genuine sense of the fantastic…with a streak of genuine weird sensitiveness not very far removed from a certain sort of blind, rhapsodic genius.” To “Typer,” Lovecraft added the editorial notes that introduce Chorazin and the history of the van der Heyl family. He also evidently urged Lumley to make Alonzo Typer an unknowing descendent of the warlock clan. Though Typer’s genealogical memory seems first too balky, then (at the climax) too forthcoming, his connection to the van der Heyls works plot-wise and brings in Lovecraft’s favorite themes of hereditary destiny and guilt.

Poor Alonzo. Because he perpetuates an alien-tainted bloodline, his whole life has been an unconscious imitation of Claes’s, down to the Asian pilgrimages and occult studies that have primed him for freeing the Forgotten One. He joins the blood-cursed ranks of characters like “Shadow Over Innsmouth’s” narrator, Charles Dexter Ward, Arthur Jermyn, and all those tunneling Martenses.

Speaking of the Martenses, “Typer” returns us to the haunted New Netherlands of “Lurking Fear.” In many aspects, it recalls its predecessor. There’s a house once belonging to a reclusive Dutch family, all of whom vanish without a trace. The fate of the van der Heyls remains a mystery, but if they weren’t killed off in a failed attempt to raise the Forgotten One, they might well have adopted subterranean life, enough changed by inbreeding (and way-out-there breeding) to thrive underground. Maybe they’ve become those slithery Guardians behind the iron door. We’ve also got sinister twisted trees, and sinister thunder-plagued hilltops, and sinister “degraded” villagers, though “Lurking Fear’s” villagers were no cultists, just hapless fodder for the Martenses. Both Typer and “Fear’s” narrator are scholars of the strange and fanatical seekers of weirdness type. “Fear’s” narrator escapes the curse of the Martenses, a sadder but wiser man. Typer can’t escape the van der Heyls, for they’re embedded in his genes. Do the black paws drag him off to his death, both priest and sacrifice? We don’t know – his diary ends with the dragging. Even though old Claes’s last lizard-skin missive didn’t sound too sanguine, I like to think Typer pulled an Innsmouth and found wonder and glory beyond the brick vault. I wouldn’t bet on it, however.

While searching for information on William Lumley, I ran across a very interesting post by Dennis P. Quinn: The (Unintended) Religious Legacy of H. P. Lovecraft. It mentions Lumley as a prime example of someone who found “religious inspiration” in the work of self-avowed atheist Lovecraft. Lumley at least seems to have found that Mythosian fiction meshed neatly with his other occult obsessions. If Lumley was obsessed, not just having Howard and friends on.

It sounds like Lovecraft didn’t think Lumley was insincere. He wrote to Robert E. Howard, re the mystery fan from Buffalo: “There is surely, as you say, a tremendous pathos in the case of those who clutch at unreality as a compensation for inadequate or uncongenial realities.”

I wonder if Lovecraft didn’t do some clutching of his own. When he jettisoned God and intellectually embraced an uncaring cosmos, he didn’t leave that cosmos empty – instead he peopled it with tremendous deities and fascinating aliens and even Dreamlands that really do come true, if you dream hard and skillfully enough.

Well, of course, though. Don’t imagination, and fiction, abhor vacuums?


Next week, there are many fine Innsmouth artifacts in Ann Schwader’s “Objects from the Gilman-Waite Collection.” You can find it in Book of Cthulhu II. (Also next week, Ruthanna’s novel Winter Tide comes out! You can find her either squeeing about it endlessly or hiding under the bed.)

Ruthanna Emrys’s neo-Lovecraftian stories “The Litany of Earth” and “Those Who Watch” are available on, along with the distinctly non-Lovecraftian “Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land” and “The Deepest Rift.” Winter Tide, a novel continuing Aphra Marsh’s story from “Litany,” will be available from the imprint on April 4, 2017. Ruthanna can frequently be found online on Twitter and Dreamwidth, and offline in a mysterious manor house with her large, chaotic household—mostly mammalian—outside Washington DC.

Anne M. Pillsworth’s short story.The Madonna of the Abattoir” appears on Her first novel, Summoned, is available from Tor Teen along with the recently released sequel Fathomless. She lives in Edgewood, a Victorian trolley car suburb of Providence, Rhode Island, uncomfortably near Joseph Curwen’s underground laboratory.

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Posted by /u/MagicJasoni

I have seen a LOT of "cult classics" and sometimes, they're considered that for a reason. Other times, I'm missing the reason completely. I can think of two:

The Last House on the Left, and Phantasm. Couldn't stand either of them, and I've seen each of them three or four times to figure out why they're so adored by many, but I can't see it.

What films that are "cult classics" have wholly disappointed you?

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