The mystic from Providence in “The Shambler from the Stars” by Leselwyn (www.deviantart.com)
Robert Bloch’s “The Shambler from the Stars” is the first of a trilogy of stories written by Bloch, Lovecraft and then Bloch again. Over the next month we will discuss the science associated with these three stories, starting with Bloch’s “The Shambler from the Stars.” In this tale the protagonist takes a book, the De Vermis Mysteriis – translated to be Mysteries of the Worm – written by Ludvig Prinn, to a friend in Providence, Rhode Island. While not explicitly stated, his friend “a mystic dreamer in New England” is supposed to be H.P. Lovecraft. While the friend is reading the book out loud, an entity appears and kills him by essentially draining all of his blood. When the entity first appears it is completely invisible to human eyes.
Ludvig Prinn by Greg P. Onychuk
Our perception of vision originates from light, which is a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, hitting an object, being reflected off its surface and entering our eye. The reason why most plants look green is that the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll absorbs the reds and blues and reflects the greens, which then enter our eye. However, if light is not absorbed or reflected an object may be invisible. In nature near-invisibility can be achieved by allowing light to pass through an organism. Examples include moon jellies (see below). Their nearly invisible, more transparent, appearance makes it difficult for predators, which may include tunas, sharks, swordfish, sea turtles and other jellies, to see the moon jellies. The transparent appearance of the jellies probably makes it easier for them to also capture zooplankton for food since these micro-animals are fairly light sensitive.
A moon jelly
Moon jellies floating in the oceanic plankton; note how difficult they are to see (www.richardmodlin.com)
Similar to the moon jelly, the freshwater, predatory zooplankter Chaoborus (also known as the glassworm or the phantom midge) is almost transparent, making it difficult for fish to visually find and feed on them, as well as making it difficult for smaller zooplankton to evading this predator. Both of these planktonic examples show that being nearly invisible has an ecological advantage in both avoiding being captured and consumed by predators as well as being able to capture unsuspecting prey. Given this ecological value to near invisibility, more than likely these values also apply to the invisible entity the protagonist’s friend calls up by reading aloud from the De Vermis Mysteriis. While not given a specific name in the tale, there are references in Prinn’s tome of “invisible companions” and “Star-sent servants,” the entity is frequently referred to as a “star vampire.”
Freshwater predatory zooplankter Chaoborus, also known as the phantom midge.
In “The Shambler from the Stars” it is suggested a number of times that the summoned star vampire is from distance space. However, I propose the hypothesis that the star vampire is similar to the entities experienced in the tale “From Beyond” when the resonator is turned on. After the mystic from Providence was done reciting the passage the protagonist states that they hear thundering tones that seem to original from far away and yet was burning in his brain. The room went cold with a sudden wind that shrieked through the house. These conditions are similar to what is experienced when the resonator is activated. Thus, the star vampire may be another planktonic denizen floating in the inter-dimensional plankton, where it cannot perceive us and we cannot perceive it. As we know, when the resonator is activated the inter-dimensional barriers are lowered and perception is achieved. Is it possible that some of the passages in the De Vermis Mysteriis lower these same inter-dimensional barriers? Perhaps the mystic from Providence did not summon the star vampire but instead lowered the barriers to allow a star vampire to see in our Space-Time.
Star Vampire by Clone Artist (www.deviantart.com)
Unlike the inter-dimensional plankton in “From Beyond,” the star vampire remained invisible even when the inter-dimensional barriers were lowered. However, once it begins to feed it unfortunately becomes very visible. Thus, next time we will discuss the feeding habits of the star vampire and make additional comparisons between it and moon jellies. Thank you – Fred.