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Author Topic: Episode 271 - Something in the Moonlight  (Read 2463 times)
Ken Hardin
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« on: September 04, 2015, 12:56:01 PM »

As always, I really enjoyed the show [not the story, so much], but I did want to offer a counter to the discussion of whether or not Lovecraft's vision of the Great Old Ones is that they want somehow to "rule" the Earth.

Personally, I think that their desire to "rule" the Earth is what distinguishes the Great Old Ones from the other creatures / aliens Lovecraft created.

When he introduced the term in "Call of Cthulhu," Lovecraft was overt in having the cultists repeat that all that other weird, alien, unnameable menace you are likely to stumble upon if you go to science class are NOT the Great Old Ones -- they are just other weird monsters / aliens. Lovecraft goes so far as to introduce the white, polypous thing in the swamp as yet another example of an alien entity you don't want to meet, but that is not a Great Old One. "No man had ever seen the Great Old Ones." When the stars are right and Cthulhu wakes and releases the Great Old Ones, it's Armageddon. The aren't coming back to hang out in a swamp or under a ghostly fishing village.

In "The Dunwich Horror," the Old Ones are actively conspiring with hillbilly wizards and Yog-Sothoth to break through whatever dimensional barrier has them at bay to reclaim the Earth, for whatever purpose. "Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now."

I realize Lovecraft himself played fast and loose with the term "Old One" in his own writing, eventually using it to describe the starfish-headed Antarctic alien species in "Shadow Over Innsmouth" and other later stories. But I do think later "mythos" writers kind of lost the point of what he was going for with the GREAT Old Ones in his key stories that reference them by simply labeling any monster from outer space a Great Old One.

The Great Old Ones are Game Over, at least where humans are concerned -- when whatever weird force that keeps them in hibernation, etc., is no more, they will take back the Earth and end humanity's brief reign.

Other weird alien stuff is out there, too, and some of it just doesn't care about the Earth particularly ["The Colour Out of Space," "From Beyond"], but those aren't the Great Old Ones. The Great Old Ones aren't necessarily more powerful than this other stuff -- in fact, they are sometimes called "the weak Gods of Earth." But they do have a jones on for the planet, for some reason. And they can't be contained in a fish tank in the basement of a museum.

As always, thanks.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2015, 08:50:17 PM by Ken Hardin » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2015, 06:42:39 AM »

There is some evidence in Lovecraft that the Great Old Ones want their world back, and have been disabled by a change in the "stars". Derleth's big change was to attribute that "imprisonment" to the Elder Gods (he too is imprecise on terminology, referring the Elder Gods as the Old Ones or Ancient Ones and the Great Old Ones as the Evil Ones at various stages). It is the idea that there are gods "on our side" which annoys some people who see this as counter to Lovecraft's nihilistic philosophy. Carter follows Derleth to the letter.

Carter slavishly follows Derleth, even passing off his own "collaborations" under other bylines (some of his Eibon tales appear in "Fantastic" under Smith's name, while at least one heavily rewritten R. E. Howard story appeared in "Weird Tales" when Carter was editor). He continued to codify the Mythos, add extensive lists of Mythos creatures and books to his stories, and rewrite the same plots over and over again.

If Chris and Chad a looking for a good Lin Carter story because he was so frequently published, they are in for a shock. I can't think of anything he wrote I'd recommend to a friend, with the possible exception of "Dreams from R'lyeh" -- the Arkham House book containing his copy-cat Lovecraftian sonnet cycle. A couple of his poems are OK ("The Death-Song of Conan" is not bad).
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