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May 17, 2006

Dorky Idea

A while ago a commenter, DeeDaGo, suggested some sort of "book club" thing here.

I didn't know if that was really what the readership -- consisting, basically, of morons -- was into.

But I've been getting used to reading books and short stories on-line -- it's not that hard on my eyes, though your mileage may vary -- and I've been thinking about suggesting a book available on-line to read and comment on, as a group.

I've been reading some of the Sherlock Holmes stories and books lately, but that's not what I'm considering at the moment.

I drop a lot of references to Cthulhu here, and I was thinking that I might force myself to read some of those stories (a couple for the second time), as well as earlier stories by Ambrose Bierce and R.W. Chambers that inspired Lovecraft. I've read Chambers' The Yellow Sign, but I never read the real story about the (fictitious) play The King in Yellow, The Repairer of Reputations. Maybe a group thing would force me through it.

I've searched around, and the Bierce stories that inspired Chambers are availabe on-line (and quite short), as are the Chambers stories that, in turn, inspired Lovecraft. Which, in turn again, inspired a whole lot of writers to start writing "weird horror" in the 20's and 30's (and through the present, of course).

Together the stories would trace the beginnings of non-traditional, science-fiction flavored horror. No vampires or werewolves here; just Damned Things from other planets of a color the human eye cannot see, and insectoid fungus aliens from Pluto inhabiting the mountains of Vermont. They're linked by the idea of the ruined city of Carcosa, which seems to be on another planet; Bierce first mentioned the "famous" city (which wasn't famous at all), Chambers wrote a story about a madness-inducing play about the forlorn and eerie place, and Lovecraft decided it must be home to one of his strange gods.

I think it's kind of interesting that Chambers' story postulated a play that drove viewers mad and caused them to obsess about it. In a way, that's what Bierce's, Chambers's, and Lovecraft's stories did to an entire generation of young writers. The core ideas would create a whole subgenre of horror/fantasy/sci-fi literature, and a large "circle" of devotees cranking out story after story connected to what would become known as "The Cthulhu Mythos" or "Cthulhu Cycle."

Just an idea. Let me know if anyone's interested.

But, pace Gore and Olbermann, you have to pledge to actually read the stupid things. (Not really.)

Bonus Blogosphere Tie-In: Chambers' big idea in The Repairer of Reputations is about a meme disseminated through an evil play, a meme that colonizes the minds of people and drives them mad; this idea is recapitulated in various Lovecraft stories, and the stories written by the other writers in the "circle." So the idea of potent meme itself became a meme.

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posted by Ace at 06:14 PM

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