Monday, January 26, 2015

FRIGHTFUL ABOMINATION

FRIGHTFUL ABOMINATION
"Below she caught glimpses of misty plains and valleys with mountain peaks rising far away. And at her feet a ravening circle of small, slavering, blind things leaped with clashing teeth.
They were obscene and hard to distinguish against the darkness of the hillside, and the noise they made was revolting. Her sword swung up of itself, almost, and slashed furiously at the little dark horrors leaping up around her legs. They died squashily, splattering her bare thighs with unpleasantness, and after a few had gone silent under the blade the rest fled into the dark with quick, frightened pantings, their feet making a queer splashing noise on the stones."

"She could see the top of the hill above her, dark against the paling sky, and she toiled up in frantic haste, clutching her sword and feeling that if she had to look in the full light upon the dreadful little abominations that had snapped around her feet when she first emerged 
she would collapse into screaming hysteria."
C.L. Moore, The Black God's Kiss


Friday, January 23, 2015

Happy Birthday C.L. Moore


This coming Saturday is C.L. Moore's birthday and to celebrate, next Monday, I'll be posting an monster from her psychedelic short story The Black God's Kiss.

C.L. Moore was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1911. She dropped out of college to get a job as a secretary to help her family during the Great Depression.  Around this time she started writing and had stories published in Weird Tales and Astounding Fiction.

Supposedly, her story Shambleau was so well received by Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright, that he gave the entire staff the day off. Whether or not this is true, it speaks to the power of her writing. People loved it.

She's probably most well know for her character Jirel of Joirey, a Medieval French woman who's defining characteristic is her unrelenting rage. Jirel goes on some really trippy adventures to strange dimensions and meets some really disgusting monsters! 
It's great stuff!

Moore went by the more ambiguous "C.L." because she was well aware of the fact that male writers were paid more than female writers. She may have even had a harder time getting her work read at all if she hadn't done this. Most readers didn't know that Moore was a woman, including fellow weird fiction author Henry Kuttner.

He wrote her a fan letter and later, struck up a romantic relationship. They frequently collaborated using their own names as well as multiple pseudonyms. They collaborated on the story Mimsy Were the Borogoves which was later turned into the movie The Last Mimsy.

She was also part of the "famous" round robin story The Challenge From Beyond which featured H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long and A. Merritt.

Moore's work is pretty unappreciated but you should check it out if you get the chance. She's not only a pioneer of female sci fi authors but sci fi and weird fiction in general.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

GROTH-GOLKA


GROTH-GOLKA
"The thing that pursued the fleeing girl was neither man nor beast. In form it was like a bird, but such a bird as the rest of the world had not seen for many an age. Some twelve feet high it towered, and its evil head with the wicked red eyes and cruel curved beak was as big as a horse's head. The long arched neck was thicker than a man's thigh and the huge taloned feet could have gripped the fleeing woman as an eagle grips a sparrow."

"This much Turlogh saw in one glance as he sprang between the monster and its prey who sank down with a cry on the beach. It loomed above him like a mountain of death and the evil beak darted down, denting the shield he raised and staggering him with the impact. At the same instant he struck, but the keen ax sank harmlessly into a cushioning 
mass of spiky feathers."

"The mighty blade sheared through one of the tree-like legs below the knee, and with an abhorrent screech, the monster sank on its side, flapping its short heavy wings wildly. Turlogh drove the back-spike of his ax between the glaring red eyes and the gigantic bird kicked convulsively and lay still."

"And we shall see if the god Gol-goroth shall stand against the sword that cut Groth-golka's leg from under him. Now hew the head from this carcass that the people may know you have overcome the bird-god."
Robert E. Howard, The Gods of Bal-Sagoth

"I stared at the weird, stylized profile figure of a monstrous thing like a hideous bird with weird staring eyes and gaping beak filled with fangs. There was a stark ugliness to the depiction that was quite unsettling.

"I looked up at him, a mute question in my eyes.
'Groth-golka,' he breathed."

"The moon was hidden by black, flapping shapes that circled and swooped like enormous fishing-birds, darting down to the altars to pluck and tear at the wriggling bodies bound there...and one of the huge, queerly deformed-looking bird-things emerged into the moonlight, and I stared with unbelieving horror at its hulking, horribly quasi-avian form, clothed with scales not feathers...one glimpse of the repulsive thing with its one leg and glaring Cyclopean eye and hideous, hooked, fang-lined beak-"

Lin Carter, The Fishers From the Outside

"It resembles a tremendous bird with one foot and one eye, and dwells under the mountain Antarktos, somewhere near the South Pole."
Daniel Harms, The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia


*There are some contradictory descriptions of Groth-Golka. Specifically, how many eyes and legs it has. I think this was originally a confusion with Howard's quote about the man that "cut the leg from under him". It appears that in Howard's story Groth-Golka had two legs and Turlogh cut off ONE of them. Lin Carter also added to the confusion by describing the servitors of Groth-Golka (the Fishers From the Outside) as being one legged. While it does seem that Howard intending Groth-Golka to have two legs, I think one leg looks way stranger and more alien, so I kept that aspect.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Happy Birthday Robert E. Howard


Tomorrow is Robert E. Howard's birthday and to celebrate I'll be posting a picture of a monster from his creepy adventure tale The Gods Of Bal-Sagoth.

Probably the most famous of the Weird Tales "Big Three",  Howard is most well known for creating Conan the Barbarian and helping to invent the Sword and Sorcery genre in literature. As if that wasn't enough he also created the enduring characters of Solomon Kane, Kull the Conqueror, Dark Agnes and Bran Mak Morn.

His high adventure stories masked a deeply troubled person. His childhood consisted of moving from town to town, bickering parents and a father notorious for bad investments which led to the family's poverty, and eventually, his mother decision to cut him from Howard's life. His mother became a huge part of his life and when she died of Tuberculosis in 1936,
he tragically decided to end his own life.

Howard's mark on weird fiction and pop culture is undeniable. He may not have enjoyed life, but he sure knew how to write about it. 




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RLIM SHAIKORTH

RLIM SHAIKORTH
"Something he had of the semblance of a fat white worm; but his bulk was beyond that of the sea-elephant. His half-coiled tail was thick as the middle folds of his body; and his front reared upward from the dais in the form of a white round disk, and upon it were imprinted vaguely the lineaments of a visage belonging neither to beast of the earth nor 
ocean-creature. And amid the visage a mouth curved uncleanly from side to side of the disk, opening and shutting incessantly on a pale and tongueless and toothless maw. The eye-sockets of Rlim Shaikorth were close together between his shallow nostrils; and the sockets were eyeless, but in them appeared from moment to moment globules of a 
blood-coloured matter having the form of eyeballs; and ever the globules broke and dripped down before the dais. And from the ice-floor of the dome there ascended two masses like stalagmites, purple and dark as frozen gore, which had been made by 
the ceaseless dripping of the globules."
Clark Ashton Smith, The Coming Of the White Worm

 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Happy Birthday Clark Ashton Smith

This Tuesday is Clark Ashton Smith's birthday. To celebrate, I'll be posting a creature from his truly weird story The Coming Of the White Worm. 

Smith was a sculptor, painter, poet and the most under appreciated of the the Big Three. He wrote some of my favorite weird tales of all time (The Empire Of the Necromancers, The Master Of Crabs, The Colossus Of Ylourgne, Mother Of Toads, The Testament Of Athammaus) and managed to infuse a sense of sensuality and beauty that's not as apparent in HPL or REH.

His stories are also ridiculous...in an amazing and epic way. On the Smith dedicated podcast The Double Shadow they describe it as escalation. For example:

In another weird tale you may have a monster that eventually gets killed. In a Smith story, you have a man that gets killed by decapitation and comes back monstrous only to be decapitated again and again coming back more horrible each time. AND THEN HE EATS SOMEONE ALIVE IN A CROWDED STREET!

In some other story you may have a necromancer raise the dead. In a Smith story, you have a necromancer raise the dead, employ demons to boil them down to their essentials, sculpt a GIANT corpse from said material, inhabit it, carry around 10 other necromancers on his back and DUMP MANURE ON A CHURCH!

While he may not have a Conan or a Cthulhu, he concocted many things that mythos lovers will recognize. The wizard Eibon, as well as the Great Old Ones Tsathoggua and Atlach Nacha were Smith's creation. 

He's made a more subtle impact on pop fantasy. Mike Mignola cites The Colossus Of Ylourgne as a huge influence on Hellboy, The Return Of the Sorcerer was made into an episode of Night Gallery and The Book Of Eibon is featured in Lucio Fulci's gore epic The Beyond, and supposedly members of The Church Of Satan tried to communicate with Smith from beyond the grave!

The odd part of all this, is that Smith detested writing prose and thought it a menial task for a poet. However, at the start of the Great Depression his parents fell ill and he had to start writing Sci Fi and Horror for the pulps to help out. But doing jobs he hated was part of his not new to him. His family was poor for most of his life and at times he was a fruit picker, woodcutter, well digger, typist, journalist, editor doing whatever he could to keep his family afloat. He may not have loved writing prose but I, for one, am glad that he felt he had to. His work is classic.


Friday, January 9, 2015

INHABITANT OF XICLOTL

INHABITANT OF XICLOTL
"I had almost collided, I thought, with a metallically grey tree. Small in comparison with the average in the forest, this tree was about sixteen feet high with very thick cylindrical branches. Then I noticed that the trunk divided into two cylinders near the ground, and the lower ends of these cylinders further divided into six flat circular extensions. This might merely have been a natural distortion, and such an explanation might also have accounted for the strange arrangement of the branches in a regular circle at the apex of the trunk; but I could not reach for a natural explanation when those branches nearest me suddenly extended clutchingly in my direction, and from the top of what I had taken for a trunk rose a featureless oval, leaning towards me to show an orifice gaping at the top."

"Another instrument, a box-shaped crystal emitting a scintillating petal-shaped field, was used to subdue the counterparts of that oval-headed faceless being, which apparently were a race of enslaved workers used to perform tasks requiring strength for the relatively weak insect species."

"By some obscure method of teleportation they transported the entire temple, with themselves, to the nearest planet on which they had a colony - the world of the faceless cylindrical beings, called Xiclotl by its inhabitants."

"Nor did they turn in passing the cells of the Xiclotl labor force, even when the beings in them crashed themselves against the doors and extended their tentacles in helpless fury upon sensing the portions of their fellow slave."

"Not until a grey metal tentacle whipped through a grille to quiver within an inch of my face did I realize that here was the passage of the Xiclotl labour force cells."
Ramsey Campbell, The Insects From Shaggai