Post Comment 37 comments on “Episode 8 – The Doom That Came to Sarnath

  • Andrew Leman on

    Hey guys. Nice job, as always, except I can’t believe you didn’t mention the Morlocks from George Pal’s 1960 version of “The Time Machine”. The Morlocks are clearly Beings of Ib: gelatinous green skin, flabby lips, not so much with the talking, giant spooky statue. Also horrible dancers. With the whole civilization crumbled into ruins theme working there must be a real connection.

  • Chad Fifer on

    This is the second time I’ve forgotten to mention The Time Machine – I thought the Eloi/Morlock caste system was suggested in Polaris as well. I haven’t seen the film from ’60 but now I’ve GOT to check it out!

    And thanks for listening to the show, Mr. Reason People Listen to the Show.

  • John D. Corrado on

    The World of Warcraft has a lot of Lovecraftian influences. One particular creature in the game that seems very similar to the description of the creatures of Ib is the Murloc. That’s how I picture them.

    Do you guys record the whole story being read or just excerpts? I’d love to hear the whole story be read.

    I started reading a book I got last Christmas called H.P. Lovecraft’s Book of Horror. It’s great. The first part is an essay by Lovecraft called “Supernatural Horror in Literature.” The rest are stories by various authors he mentions in the essay. You guys might want to check it out.

  • Phil on

    Another great podcast! Just had to comment on how much I am enjoying Andrew’s readings and the background music … well done. I also think you did a great job on Sarnath – the beings of Ib would be proud!

  • Genus Unknown on

    Good show. Looking forward to next week’s, even if the story is perhaps the hokiest, clumsiest horror story in the Lovecraft canon. What’s after “Randolph Carter?”

  • Chad Fifer on

    After Carter, it’s The Terrible Old Man, my friend. You’ll never be able to enjoy an early bird special again.

  • Genus Unknown on


    This is clearly the stage of HPL’s career in which he came up with really cool scenes and fragments, and then built really corny stories around them, trusting on his stockpile of exotic adjectives to see him through.

    After 7 weeks of studiously following the early stages of HPL’s career, I’m beginning to reconsider my fandom. HP Lovecraft sucks… or maybe I’m just bitter about “Randolph Carter.” Gad, what a cheesy story.

  • Julie H on

    I like the way you address the festival of the defeat of Ib. By modern standars, it would be pretty tacky – but we still have V-J day (not that anyone runs around burning anime or anything).

    Lovecraft had something serious against decadence – in all the meanings of the word. Whether it’s the more archaic “decaying” definition (such as the decadent inhabitants of just about any part of New England more than spitting distance from a college) or the “luxury on display to the point of absurdity” decadence of the upper class more associated with Rome and 18th century France [and many other places just before a revolution].

    Sorry to rant. I had a train of thought there, but I think it derailed.

  • Ben Mueller-Heaslip on

    I just subscribed to your podcast a couple days ago and wanted to send a bit of appreciation your way. I thought I was subscribing to ‘dramatic readings of Lovecraft stories’, and when you guys came in with the opinion/analysis I though “oh $^#*&$^*#&$^@*#$&^!!!!! Nooooo!”

    But I was wrong. It’s a really great show and I’m really enjoying it. Keep making them!

  • J.B. Lee on

    SO this time out, the racists get theirs! You touched on that with your “Native American Annihilation Celebration” analogy, but I expected an epiphany on the theme somewhere along the line. This tale is the perfect antithesis of POLARIS; the people of Ib, for all their physical grotesquerie and mysterious religion, are clearly the victims of the vicious human colonists, and Sarnath definitely Had It Coming.

    Despite HPL’s atheism, he was undoubtedly familiar with the Bible — we’ll see a lot more of that when we come to “The Dunwich Horror” — and “The Doom that came to Sarnath” seems to reflect a little of the King James Version. The long-deferred justice delivered by Bokrug The Water Lizard(TM) reminds me of certain Old Testament passages, such as the Exodus story, wherein God waited 400 YEARS to free his people from the tyranny of Pharaoh…who was NOT the Pharaoh who STARTED the oppression, obviously. Sound familiar? These gods, they just have no sense of time; they’d be late for their own Ragnarok.

    Next week, we finally come to a “classic” from Our Hero’s pen. HPL finds the motherlode of horror, and digs up a great honkin’ squamous eldritch chunk. Fun for everyone!

  • Rodonn on

    I’d say that TDH also indicates a pretty good familiarity with the Synoptic Gospels. Whateley’s nativity through to the ascension is more or less Matthew/Mark style narrative… The Passion of the Whateley Twins…

  • Danial on

    Great work as usual, but you forgot to mention “The Street” which I’m pretty sure was written around the same time. Not the greatest story, I know, but you’ve been mentioning the other “duds” along the way, so I think it should be included

    I’m not looking forward to next week as much as others would I don’t think as I find “The Statement…” to be pretty boring, but it was the start of his horror phase, so I guess it’s good for that reason. I know that due to its simplicity it is surely THE most film-adapted of HPL’s work!

  • chrislackey on

    The Street is coming up and we’re going to talk about it. We going to be doing more than one story an episode in the near future. Some of these are very short and I don’t think could fill up a whole half hour with just one. I mean, we could… it just wouldn’t be very good.

  • JulieH on

    I’m still lobbying for The Temple (also written in 1920).

    For all that it’s a flawed story (falling into the category of “much build-up / no particular satisfying ending”), the hero, Leutnant Karl Heinrich, commander of the U-boat U-29, is nearly singular among Lovecraft’s works, being macho and uber-rational – you NEVER see that in HPL. Even his other functional (i.e., non-going-insane) heroes, like Armitage in Dunwich Horror, are still intellectual types.

    It is arguable that Heinrich’s very rationality and unwillingness to accept the presence of the supernatural IS a form of madness (sometimes called panzaism, though I’m not sure this is a technical psychological term or more a pop culture creation).

    I fell in love with this story when I recorded an audio book version of it, then absolutely HAD to adapt it for my show (

  • chrislackey on

    We’re gonna get to The Temple. We’re going chronologically with the HPL stories. So you get them as he wrote them!

  • JulieH on

    Cool – it was also written in 1920, though apparently not published until 1925. That’s why I was fretting, since you’re “in 1920” now…

  • Kevin on

    FYI, Sarnath wasn’t just any historical city in India but the one where the Buddha allegedly gave his first sermon.

    Also, in addition to Dunsany I think this story betrays significant Robert W. Chambers influence—he of “The King in Yellow” fame.

    Good work guys, keep it up.

  • chrislackey on

    I don’t know how I failed to mention that Sarnath is where Buddha allegedly gave his first sermon, but I sure did. Thanks for the catch.

  • Piotr - Demi on

    I am famous! Woo-hoo! \o/

  • Wowser on

    I wish more book cover design was like this:

    Makes those fish-men seem sort of cute.

  • J.B. Lee on

    Boy, that brings back memories. I remember how excited I was to find that book, and quite a few others with art by the same guy. I actually prefer that stuff to the famous Whelan covers.

  • JulieH on

    Cute? Yeah – still wouldn’t want to sleep with one. [That’s always been the truly horrorific part of Innsmouth et al. to me!!]

    Hey! That picture on the cover! isn’t that Bokrug (the water lizard)TM?

  • Genus Unknown on

    One thing I really like about this story is the mysterious nature of the DOOM. Even at the end, we just aren’t sure what really happened at Sarnath; all we know is that it was definitely strange and… doomy. The “people” of Ib don’t storm in with weapons and slaughter; instead, they dance horribly and carry those platters with the rubies and the “uncouth flames,” whatever that could mean, and somehow, at the end of it, Sarnath is no more. It’s the same kind of “shaggy dog” trick HPL uses a lot, especially in “Randolph Carter” and “Erich Zann,” but used to a much less infuriating effect here.

  • fishy on

    Yet another great podcast…loved the Lexx-inspired music (for it cannot be anything other than that, can it?). The dissection of the story was superb, as usual. Keep up the good work.

  • Gregory K. H. Bryant on

    This is not a story, but a poem in prose. Lovecraft’s simple, though epochal, tale of revenge is the but the wire hanger upon which he drapes his lush and decadent imaginings. It is strictly symmetrical – it opens with mass murder and ends with mass murder, intimating neither beginning nor conclusion, nor moral, but endless, eternal cycles. The poem is, itself, is a `… vast still lake that is fed by no stream, and out of which no stream flows.’

    I like the model of time that Lovecraft presents. He suggests vast depths, immeasurable beyond all possible reckoning, of which that we call ` time’, itself, is but the briefest flickering.

    This poem exists only for the sake of the visionary and the hallucinatory, and every word is redolent of the sickly-sweet scent of opium. And I must say that it was impossible for me to read this without the words, “In Xanadu did Kubla Kahn a stately pleasure dome decree..” keeping a steady backbeat in my mind.



  • Tulse on

    I know I’m very late to the party, but man, what an excellent podcast! I’m hooked!

    You guys commented on the single piece of iron used for the throne, and wondered where such a lump might be found. One such source, in keeping with the flavour of the story, would be “iron meteorite” — those suckers can be fairly large, and would essentially be a single lump of iron. I have no idea if Lovecraft intended that association, but it seems somehow appropriate.

    Another point that was raised in the podcast and here in the comments is the phenomenal tardiness of the “DOOM”. I mean, really, 1000 years? Honestly, how many big civilizations last much longer than that, anyway? Heck, perhaps the US itself is labouring under a similar doom cast by the Native Americans, and we won’t know until about 2500 AD. Is it really DOOM if you get to party for a thousand years in the meantime?

  • Justin on

    If you want a movie version of the The Doom that Came to Sarnath watch Toho’s Varan the Unbelievable. In fact I’m surprised that you didn’t mention how much Doom seems to be a foreshadowing of Godzilla and all those other giant reptilian monsters to come along all those years later.

  • Shankar Abeir on

    You do have a celebration of the conquest and destruction of the native peoples in the USA; it is called Thanksgiving. What the “Pilgrims” gave thanks for was the plague the Europeans had brought that decimated the population. They thought it as an Act of God, and affirmation that they were to conquer the continent.

    Some modern scholarship on separating history from myth is always in order. The modern consensus on early colonial history is definitely worth studying, instead of the myths told in school.

  • Elderac on

    It’s probably a small thing, but when I was listening to this again recently, I happened to notice that a “green stone” was mentioned. I couldn’t help but think about the idols in the Call of Cthulhu and how they were green stone as well.

    It may just be Lovecraft thinking that green stones are weird and there is no real connection, but I thought it was cool.

  • Timothy Dean on

    Ya know, I haven’t read this story. But It keeps screaming at me about the animated movie/graphic novels of Heavy Metal.

  • […] comic of his choice. I’m glad he chose it: I really like this story, and the folks at HP Podcraft did an excellent reading-and-commentary on it. It’s a lot of fun to […]

  • jdac on

    I have no problem seeing a connection with Dream-Quest in this one; it’s the moon creatures! Only in Sarnath there are no feline paratroopers to carry the day against the aggrieved flabby ones.

    Of course, if you accept that link, there are new questions: why would they be attached to this place? Are the water-lizards some larval stage in their reproduction? Did Bokrug call them back to exact it’s revenge, or was this their own agenda? If the latter, why did they not re-establish Ib (New Ib?) after Sarnath was obliterated?

    Actually, in reading this I was reminded of Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique story, “The Dark Eidolon” (Caution: immediate spoilers at But that’s probably because Smith and Lovecraft had very similar influences, including each other and R.E. Howard.

  • Nathan Tarantla on

    As usual you guys did a great job on what I’ve always considered was a rather lackluster story, aside from Lovecrafts’ rich descriptions. The “subtle” culinary masters made me grin when I read this story years ago,and I’m amused that you found the same section just as interesting.

  • Danyell on

    Great podcast.
    I agree with the thought about the possibility of it being related to rich people.
    But yeah I felt sorry for the alien moon things from Ib. They had the right for revenge no doubt.

  • TheNikus on

    Love the podcast.

    Here’s some research I’ve done on this story that people might be interested in. It correlates the Sarnath story with the history of ancient Babylon:

  • Christopher Snape. on

    The 1000-year reign is another Rome allusion I believe. The kingdom was founded 753BC and the western empire collapsed 476 CE.

  • Itkovian on

    I realise I’m late for even the ten year anniversary of the party, never mind the party itself…

    I may have missed it but I haven’t noticed anyone mention the idea that the king and his guests/slaves were turned *into* the creatures of Ib. It isn’t clear but I read it that way:

    “Men whose eyes were wild with fear shrieked aloud of the sight within the king’s banquet-hall, where through the windows were seen no longer the forms of Nargis-Hei and his nobles and slaves, but a horde of indescribable green voiceless things with bulging eyes, pouting, flabby lips, and curious ears; things which danced horribly, bearing in their paws golden platters set with rubies and diamonds containing uncouth flames.”

    I think its the fact it refers to no longer seeing the ‘forms’ of the king but this instead. You’d think there would be bodies or something if they’d killed them – I think the inference is the men *became* the creatures.

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