Review of At the Mountains of Madness (1936)


H. P. Lovecraft (writer).

With the mountains—huge, stable and eminently observable—Lovecraft finally breaks out of the weird tale mold and into science fiction proper. It’s a techno-thriller of Antarctic exploration, with predictable history-altering consequences considerably larger than the general fever antidote in “The Last Test” (1928), and more believable detail than “The Mound” (1930).

Appropriately, there is a practicality, intelligence and nobility to the Elder Things that puts them well above mere monsters. Not evil, they are instead “fearfully great” in the manner that ancient Greek tragedians called deinos. I would have liked for their society to be fleshed out more. The whole story is quite schematic, with the undescribed final horror and turn against scientific curiosity merely tacked on.

References here: Tolkning av Cthulhukrig, Who Goes There? (1938), Childhood’s End (1953), The Mote in God’s Eye (1974), “Memory: The Origins of Alien (2019).

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