Episode 76 – The Whisperer in Darkness – Part 3

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Join us for the thrilling conclusion in our coverage of The Whisperer in Darkness!

Thanks to guest Andrew Leman, reader Matt Foyer and composer Troy Sterling Nies for being the wind beneath our space wings! Check out their movie!

Next up, we take on the most feared story in Hollywood, At the Mountains of Madness!

Post Comment 22 comments on “Episode 76 – The Whisperer in Darkness – Part 3

  • Ollie on

    I’m glad Chris that you point out the ‘contreversy’ that it’s Nyarlathotep in the shape of a Mi-Go masquerading as Akeley. I read it in Joshi’s annotations in the Penguin edition. Personally I think it’s the Crawling Chaos having a laugh with us lowly humans 😉

  • Jim Barrett on

    Another point is that Akeley’s cylinder was connected to the vision and hearing instruments, so he was a witness to Wilmarth’s conversation with pseudo-Akeley. I think the mechanical voice Wilmarth hears from his bedroom must be Akeley’s, since it “seemed to be in a position of subordination and pleading.”

  • Antoine D on

    Hey guys, just a quick remark about Lovecraft’s reference to Daoism in this story. Actually in Chinese literature, there is often a strong supernatural element to Daoism (or Taoism). For example, in The Story of the Stone and Liaozhai (AKA Strange Tales From a Chinese Studio), there are many passing references to people (usually old hermits or monks living in seclusion) who became immortal after studying the Dao. Also, it seems that Lovecraft’s name-dropping of real and fictitious lore and superstition becomes WAY more self-indulgent with time.

  • Lugi on

    Having heard him several times as the reader and having seen him in The Call of Cthulhu I was wondering if it was possible to get Matt Foyer as a guest host some time?

  • catamount on

    Great show as always! I’m very sad that I’ll have to wait two weeks for ATMoM but I shall persevere!

  • Justin on

    “Our guest next time will be Tom Cruise.” LOL!!!

    Seriously guys great job as always. And I’m definitely one of the people in the “it was Nyarlathotep” camp.

  • JB Lee on

    Hounds of Tindalos was published in Weird Tales in March 1929 — Whisperer was written in 1930, so I’m gonna dare to say Long, not Lovecraft, invented the Hounds.

    In Joshi’s HPL biography he says that Long recalled, in an early version of Whisperer, that the Akeley cylinder did get a chance to clear things up a bit. Who knows if that actually happened, or if Long’s memory was playing games with him.. but if it was in the first draft, and Lovecraft was still going for the same conclusion, then the brain-machine conversation had to go. It’s easy enough to figure that finale out without such overkill.

    And I *always* thought it was Nyarlathotep in the chair, based on that excerpt of the Evil Rites. Lovecraft never settles exactly what Nyarlathotep is. He’s a Egyptian god in Rats in the Walls and Nyarlathotep, he’s the Devil in Witch-House, he’s some sort of emissary of the Other Gods (and a shapeshifter) in Dream-Quest, he’s got a three-lobed burning eye in Haunter of the Dark, and…he’s the leader of the Mi-Go here. Basically it was just a neat name Lovecraft got from a weird dream, and it stuck with him, so he used it often without really worrying about giving it a solid identity like Cthulhu has. IMHO, natch.

    The monstrous Old One Nyarlathotep, the faceless, tentacled demon from the stars that appears with his flute-playing batrachian minions and can turn into a human being — belongs to August Derleth’s “Dweller in Darkness.” Derleth codified the thing, not HPL, just as we have Derleth to thank for Hastur the Unspeakable. And in an unspeakable fanfiction crossover of my own delirious creation, I used “whisperer in darkness” as one of Nyarly’s titles, and had one of the characters from the other universe use the line “Prodigious surgical, biological, chemical, and mechanical skill.” Because it’s fanfic, and it doesn’t matter what you do. But I digress.

    As far as Whisperer being based on a true story: ON THE NOSE, guys! I’ve seen that tripe on SO MANY horror movies, and with just as much reason…


  • Andy on

    Spoiler ahead…

    I definitely thought it was a wax face, because of the earlier reference to “the waxen mask” and because he says the mouth never moved, he looked corpse-like. He says “the waxen products of a master artist” toward the end.

    Furthermore if they had literally cut off Akeley’s face and hands and left them in the chair I doubt he would describe them as having no “actual visual horror.”

    That sort of “technology” IS primitive, but I somehow find it more creepy than if the monster had just taken on the form of Akeley.

    I liked this one, my sort of sci-fi tale.

  • Phil on

    Please oh please include the “awful coffee” bit in the deleted scenes on the DVD!

  • […] up, we take on the most feared […] HPPodcraft.com – The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast Comments […]

  • Brown Jenkin on

    You could make an argument for Nyarlathotep being in the chair if you presuppose that he had already taken on a Mi-Go form to meet with them. In this case he would need additional accouterments, like the face and hands, in order to impersonate Akeley.

  • Reber Clark on

    Another great one guys. I felt this part (part 3) was the best of the lot.

    I hope that HPLHS is getting raves for Whisperer. I cannot wait to see it at the festival in San Pedro in September.

  • Marcus Good on

    Perhaps Nyarlathotep is akin to Marvel Comics’ Galactus – he appears (or chooses to appear) in a form *expected* by the audience he approaches. Galactus appeared to humans as a giant man in a funky purple hat, but to Beta Ray Bill’s people as a giant purple octo-starfish-thing.. maybe he appears to the Mi-Go as a form of Mi-Go, and to Wilmarth in another acceptable, useful form.

  • JB Lee on

    @Marcus Good: Maybe Galactus IS Nyarlathotep. I’d like that.

  • Eric Lofgren on

    Seconded on getting Matt Foyer on the show. That would be very cool. I love his vocal work. I really enjoyed this story a lot. It clearly shows HP getting a sure grip on his style and on his world building. And surely is one the earliest precursors (as much of his work tends to be) of Sci-Fi Horror. A sub-genre I very much enjoy.
    It’ll be a tough wait, but to get AtMoM at the end of that wait makes it very worth while.

  • Cult45 on

    That whole thing with the coffee conjured up images of Doppel-Akeley played by Nick Nolte trying to slip the protagonist a Nyarlatho-roofie.

  • Cthulhopher on

    Really great podcast. When you run out of stories please consider doing the “Fungi from Yuggoth” sonnet sequence. I think it is among his greatest work.

    My understanding of the Cthulhu Mythos is that Nyarlathotep is the manifestation of mankind’s (and other intellects’)interactions with Azathoth. His form(s) and actions are partially dependent on the qualities of chaos, partially dependent on mankind’s disposition, and finally on how mankind interacts with ultimate chaos.
    This quasi-definition explains how he can be lots of places at lots of times, why he would appear as a human at times, how he functions as the emissary of chaos, etc.
    His existence is partially allegorical but also manifests in a particular fashion to specific people and groups, including alien groups who are themselves interacting with chaos as well.
    This holds with the overarching Lovecraft concept of cosmicism, and explains witchcraft without needing a Christian “Devil”. It also explains why, in this story, Nyarlathotep might be in the shape of the fungi, or at least not in the shape of a human.

  • Dave Swan on

    Thanks for these shows, great stuff, I think Whisperer is my favorite Lovecraft story and has that most Lovecraftian of quirks, The Dumb hero, Nobody with 2 brain cells to rub together would go up into those mountains after reading an obviously fake typed letter, So so Dumb. He’s as dumb as the bird in the horror movie that takes the night time short cut through the cemetery.

  • Jake on

    I must have been very slow, I did not pick up on the ending at all, let alone 25 pages before the end!

  • K on

    I love the movie version of the ‘Whisper in the Darkness’, and it makes me appreciate and enjoy the story itself for all its scary goodness. In my experience, all of that buzzing and droning in the text belongs to a particularly nasty species of migraine that usually ends up involving some prayers to the great porcelain god.
    A fresh perspective was necessary.

    Thank you,

  • The Red Death on

    I loved this, and I also adored “The Whisperer in Darkness” film.

    By the by, Nyarlathotep IS a shapeshifter…but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he could take the form of Akeley. He might’ve been able to take one thousand forms – possibly including one of the Mi-Go – but while he may be able to take the form of Pharaohs and Tesla-like showmans, he cannot, as far as we know, take the form of anyone.

    I enjoyed this!


  • […] Comment by Jim Barrett here. According to Joshi, in his notes to the Penguin edition, it’s Nyarlathotep in the shape of a […]

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