The Use of Saturn in Lovecraft’s Fiction

HPL mentions Saturn twice in his fiction.  One is fleeting but very interesting, the other is in reference to one of the most interesting creatures created by HPL.  The first is in Pickman’s Model when the narrator, Thurber, is exposed to Pickman’s artwork.  When Thurber tries to describe Pickman’s work in one of the passages he says, “There was none of the exotic technique you see in Sidney Sime, none of the trans-Saturnian landscapes and lunar fungi that Clark Ashton Smith uses to freeze the blood.”

Pickman revealing his latest “ghoulish” masterpiece to Thurber (artist is Joshua Hoffine)

As we will be discussing in an upcoming article, Clark Ashton Smith mentions Saturn in a number of his stories.  However, in Pickman’s Model, the “trans-Saturnian landscapes and lunar fungi” may have been referring to Smith’s strange artwork, which included sketches and sculptures.  Some examples of Smith’s work is shown below and more can be found on http://www.eldritchdark.com.

Saturnian by Clark Ashton Smith (from http://www.eldritchdark.com)

Sculpture of a Young Ghoul by Clark Ashton Smith (from http://www.eldritchdark.com)

The second mention in HPL’s fiction of Saturn is in The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath.  This novel is very different than most of HPL’s other work and has more of a fantasy feel.  I will not go into the story; someday I would like to possibly to a treatise on the ecosystems of the Dreamlands but that is for another day.  In any event, in the story Earth cats rescue Randolph Carter who is imprisoned on the moon by a strange race of creatures called Moon Beasts.

A Moon Beast by Grumble Putty (daily-steampunk.com) 

In the Dreamlands cats are a fierce and proud race who help Carter out of his dilemma since he has shown a kitten some kindness in the past.  However, once they rescue him the cats are careful not to spend too much time on the moon because the one foe they fear the most likes to inhabit the dark side of the moon – the cats of Saturn.  HPL provide no other description or detail about the cats of Saturn.  We only know they are “large and peculiar” and like the “charm” of the dark side of the moon.  We also know that Terran cats are afraid of the cats of Saturn.  Since Earth cats were not afraid of Moon Beasts, the cats of Saturn must be terrifying creatures.  A few artist conceptions of these creatures are shown below.

Cat from Saturn by KingOvRats (kingovrats.deviantart.com)

A cat from Saturn (from Michael Bukowski; yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

Next time we will briefly discuss Clark Ashton Smith’s references to Saturn in his stories and then its on to Uranus.  Thank you – Fred.

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9 thoughts on “The Use of Saturn in Lovecraft’s Fiction

  1. A natural history of the Dreamlands sounds like a wonderful idea! Sort of a combination of Darwin’s ‘Voyage of the Beagle’ and ‘Dreamquest.’

    While we’re on the subject of the Dreamlands, has anybody else seen Sidney Sime’s map of dreamland? There are so many elements that show up in HPL’s novel that I can only conclude it was a direct inspiration.

  2. I have never seen some of Smith’s artwork so this was a real treat. Also, this post is great. The artwork is getting better and better (speaking of that, kudos for using KingOvRats!)

    BRIAN

    1. Over the last year I have been becoming more and more of a fan of Clark Aston Smith’s work. Yes, I think KingOvRats artwork is fantastic! Fred

    1. Hey King Ov Rats. Absolutely! My apologizes. Just to confirm the website is kingovrats.deviantart.com, correct. If this is the correct website I will immediately make the update. Thank you for allowing me to put some of your great artwork on the site! Fred

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