Thursday, February 01, 2007

By H.P. Lovecraft

While H.P. Lovecraft’s name is indissolubly linked with tales of ancient, extraterrestrial races and the strange traces they left in antique New England towns, there was a bit more to his literary corpus. The Doom that Came To Sarnath collects a broad spectrum of Lovecraft tales, prose and poetry.

The title tale is a fantasy set in Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, a world that takes its existence in the dreams of Earth-bound dreamers. But here it pulses with life as Lovecraft ignores the “dream” aspect to bring a slice of Dreamlands history to eldritch life. The Dreamlands tales are well represented: “The Cats of Ulthar”, “The Other Gods”, “Polaris”, “The Quest of Iranon” are present, though some of the best Lovecraft fantasies are to be found in The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. “Cats” is a fantasy based on Lovecraft’s feline obsession. “Polaris” travels the borders of dreams to ask what reality truly is.

Many of the others, such as “The Festival”, may be considered as minor “Mythos” stories, with its delicious imagery of wonder and terror from the deeps of time in an old New England town. “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” develops the science fiction element that marked the best-known of Lovecraft’s work.

There is also straight up sf, “In the Walls of Eryx”, a planetary adventure in the vein of early scinetifictioneers like Jack Williamson, Edmond Hamilton, and Clark Ashton Smith. Brief vignettes and poetry round out the collection.

While few of these tales are well-known, they are a broad selection of Lovecraft work, a mosaic of HPL’s moods and interests. The Doom that Came to Sarnath is a must have for any collector of Lovecraft’s work, and worthy addition to the collection of any fan of fantasy and horror.
-Dave Hardy

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