Tag Archives: The Shadow Out of Time

Lovecraft’s Use of Dinosaurs

With the opening of Jurassic Park: Forbidden Kingdom a few weeks ago I thought I would review Lovecraft’s thoughts on dinosaurs and his use of these ancient organisms in his tales.  In S.T. Joshi’s biography of H.P. Lovecraft, I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft (2013), Joshi did note that in his diary Lovecraft mentioned that on 6 October 1925 he went to see the film The Lost World, which is based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel of the same name. The film features some stunning stop motion special effects that were amazing for its time and actually hold up even today. These special effects were achieved through the efforts of Willis O’Brien who also worked on King Kong (1933) and Might Joe Young (1949). O’ Brien was also the mentor to special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen. It would have been interesting to hear Lovecraft’s opinion of the film The Lost World. However, Lovecraft did mention seeing King Kong and only stated that it had “good mechanical effects” (Joshi, 2013).

kingkong King Kong vs. a T. rex in the original 1933 film.

Additionally, Lovecraft recorded in his Common Place Book in 1919 the statement, “As dinosaurs were once surpassed by mammals, so will man-mammal be surpassed by insect or bird – fall of man before new race.” (Collected Essays: Volume 5: Philosophy, Autobiography and Miscellany – H.P. Lovecraft, edited by S.T. Joshi; 2006). In the revision of Zealia Bishop’s tale “The Mound,” Lovecraft cites that an “altered” George E. Lawton emerged from the mound and was muttering a variety of things including, “…always down there, before there were any living things – older than the dinosaurs…” In both instances Lovecraft is using the dinosaurs as some type of indicator organisms to exemplify the extremely large spans of geologic time associated with rise and fall of species or civilizations.

yith2.jpg A member of the Great Race with a Velociraptor.

Our species (modern humans), Homo sapiens, is said to be at least 200,000 years old, although some studies that came out in 2017 indicate that, based on fossils recovered in Ethiopia, that modern humans may be as old as 350,000 years old. Our genus, Homo, is estimated to be a little over two million years old. In sharp contrast, dinosaurs are said to have been around from 250 to 65 million years ago (Dinosaurs: A Very Short Introduction by David Norman, 2005); essentially the Mesozoic Era. Thus, while our genus has been around for a little more than 2 million years, dinosaurs as a group were around for approximately 177 million years ago. While we consider ourselves to be the dominant organism on Earth as this time, from a geologic perspective, dinosaurs were far more successful. No wonder that Lovecraft used the dinosaurs as a sort of “geologic time stamp.”

Lovecraft used dinosaurs as a means of conveying cosmic horror not associated with outer space but with geologic time; in other words, our time being in existence is but a fleeting second in the grand scheme of the history of Earth and the universe. Carl Sagan put this within a context that we could understand – a calendar year. If the history of the Universe was scaled into a calendar year, where the Big Bang occurred on the first second of midnight on the 1st of January and the end of the year was the present, our cosmic insignificance from a temporal perspective is demonstrated. For example, in the history of the Universe all of human history would be limited to within the last minute of the last day of the year, the 31st of December. Again, within the temporal scale of the Cosmos humans are literally just a minor blip.

1280px-Cosmic_Calendar A graphical view of Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar

To get back to the dinosaurs, Lovecraft continues to use these organism as geologic indicators several times in At the Mountains of Madness, where the Elder Things cities were said to have existed at the time of the dinosaurs, during the Mesozoic Era. Additionally, compared to the Elder Things the dinosaurs were described as “…almost brainless objects…”. Indeed, in Lovecraft’s time dinosaurs were considered large but stupid ancient reptiles. While investigating what was known about dinosaurs in Lovecraft’s time, it was revealed that unlike most fields of science and technology (e.g. integrating genetics with evolution; the theory of relativity; quantum mechanics, etc.) in the early 20th century, paleontology was a fairly stagnant field. Bones and fossils were still being discovered but very little was being done to further this type of science (Norman, 2005). It would not be until the later part of the 20th century (the 1960’s and 1970’s), when paleontology would reveal that instead of being mindless brutes, dinosaurs were highly intelligent, many being social creatures who in a sense are still with us today as birds.

In Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Out of Time,” while being in the body of a member of the Great Race in the distant past, Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee remembers recognizing “…dinosaurs, pterodactyls, ichthyosaurs, labyrinthodonts, plesiosaurs…”. The one group I was not familiar with on this list was the labyrinthodonts, which is an extinct subclass of amphibians that evolved from lobe-finned fishes in the Devonian and is a key ancestor to all extant land-living vertebrates. Again, the reference to dinosaurs and other animals helps to put Lovecraft’s story into the proper perspective relative to geologic time.

8SDM-Labyrinthodont A labyrinthodont (http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~imw/Sidmouth-Devon.htm)

To summarize, while dinosaurs were never the primary focus of any of Lovecraft’s stories, he would occasionally use them as indicator organisms of immense spans of geologic time; unlike labyrinthodonts, dinosaurs are recognized by most people. However, what a dinosaur was thought to be in the Lovecraft’s day, in the early 20th century, is very different than what we know about these extinct organisms today. I’m sure Lovecraft would be absolutely amazed what we know about dinosaurs today. It makes you wonder what humans will know and understand about dinosaurs in 50 to 100 years from now. Will there truly be a Jurassic Park someday?

B00003CXXS_JurassicParkIII_UXNB1__V142727186_RI_SX940_.jpg A scene from Jurassic Park III

Next time I will go back to reviewing some of Stephen Hawking’s ideas on multiple universes. Thank you – Fred.

Comparing Great Race Technology to the Trapezohedron

In “The Shadow over Time” the economics professor Wingate Peaslee of Miskatonic University has his mind exchanged with a member of the Great Race against his will. Years later after the member of the Great Race collected a large amount of information on our world and time it then reversed the mind exchange by using a “…queer mixture of rods, wheels and mirrors, though only about two feet tall, one foot wide and one foot thick. The central mirror was circular and convex” (The Shadow over Time by H.P. Lovecraft).

               The strange technology used by the Great Race to transport their consciousness through time and space

It is interesting to note that some current research into measuring or detecting gravitons involves the Casimir effect; that is, the attraction or repulsion force between two mirrors that are placed a few nanometers apart in a vacuum. The reflective surfaces may actually move as a result of virtual photons (packets of light) that appear and disappear from the vacuum between the two mirrors (www.livescience.com).

In principle, a graviton should behave like a photon but is substantially weaker, which is why they are more difficult to detect. Thus, with conventional mirrors, made in our Universe out of the matter we are familiar with, such graviton activity will be too weak to detect. In fact, the gravitational Casimir effect is so weak that it exerts only a hundredth of a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of the amount of pressure exerted by Earth’s atmosphere at sea level (wwwlivescience.com). However, this may be possible with superconductors, which are materials that conduct electricity with zero resistance.

Given the dual particle / wave nature of gravitons, if gravity waves could be collected and utilized the way photons, radio waves or X-rays are used in our Universe, their possible applications could be incredible. For example, the wavelength of a laser beam is microscopic and you can compress vast amounts of information on its wave pattern; however, even more data can be transferred onto a beam of X-rays, which has a wavelength smaller than an individual atom (Kaku, 2014). Imagine how much information can be compressed onto a gravity wave! Possibly the collective consciousness, experiences and personality of an individual?

untitledThe Great Race examining some text on a future civilization (artwork by Tom Ardans)

The strength of gravity in other Universes is more than likely substantially stronger than what we experience in our Universe; many of the ideas associated with Super String Theory point to this conclusion. Thus, the Great Race may be using technology from another universe to collect gravitons, either from our Universe or another one, and use gravity waves to conduct the mind exchange. The queer mixture of rods, wheels and mirrors may be the means of harvesting the gravity waves and direct them. However, the technology of the Great Race may be limited to just transporting information and consciousness through space, time and beyond. The transfer of matter may require substantially higher amounts of energy and that may be possible through the shining trapezohedron.

the_shining_trapezohedron_by_jasonmckittrick-d5uzf3e                                                     The Shining Trapezohedron, created by Jason McKittrick.

 

The shining trapezohedron may operate in a similar capacity but on a substantially larger scale. First, the trapezohedron may be composed of matter that does not originate from our Universe. Second, the energy that the trapezohedron is tapping into is substantially larger than that used by the Great Race, which in their case limits their transport to information and consciousness, possibly riding on gravity waves. In contrast, the trapezohedron appears to create “wormholes” outside of our Space-Time, possibly using higher dimensional mathematics to achieve this goal. Thus, the other worlds that Robert Blake sees in the trapezohedron may not be limited to our Space-Time laws (e.g. looking at light from far away means you are looking into the distant past). Instead, the other worlds observed in the trapezohedron may be “real time.”

More importantly, the trapezohedron can actually transport matter and entities through these temporarily created wormholes. However, as previously mentioned, some acknowledgement or mental contact is needed between the user of the trapezohedron, in this case the Haunter, and a sentient entity on the other side (our Universe). As previously mentioned, darkness is required as well. We will discuss this requirement for darkness for the Haunter to enter our Universe, as well as some history on the trapezohedron, next time. Thank you and Happy Halloween! Fred.

H.P. Lovecraft and Time Travel, Part 2

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Einstein’s theories of relativity combined the three dimensions of space with time to create four-dimensional Space-Time. As part of the special theory of relativity, the closer you reach the speed of light, the slower the rate of time so if you could travel at the speed of light you could travel into the future relative to everyone else.

While traveling into the future is possible within the confines of Einstein’s relativistic Space-Time, assuming one could achieve at least almost fast as the speed of light travel, traveling into the past does not seem feasible, particularly due to the paradoxes than can be generated when thinking of time as linear flow that has only one pathway.  For example, the “grandfather paradox” is an example of if you could travel into the past and prevent your grandfather from meeting your grandmother.  In such conditions, one of your parents would not be born and therefore you would not exist.  Another example is the “free lunch paradox” where you invent a new technology – say a time traveling machine – go back in the past and give the plans to your younger self. If you give your younger self the plans to the time machine did you even design / invent it in the first place?

In a more deterministic Universe of Einstein’s Relativity such paradoxes are perplexing.  However, as described in the previous article, additional work on Einstein’s equations by others, coupled with additional insights provided by quantum mechanics, have indicated that time is more like a meandering river than an arrow shot into the air.  Small inlets that easily break off the main stem of the river and can even flow back into the river further upstream.

lightconebig                                                    A two-dimensional lightcone diagram showing space and time (www.einstein.stanford.edu)

Taking the river analogy a little further, a small inlet that separates from the main stem may be another parallel universe with its own Space-Time. Thus, in the case of the grandfather paradox both occur – there is a Universe where you accomplished your goal and you were never born and there is another where you failed and you were born and there is probably another where you did not even build the time machine in the first place.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, time was generally perceived as always moving forward and in one specific, linear direction.  Traveling into the past or future was generally thought of the stuff of science fiction popularized by H.G. Wells in his influential novel The Time Machine, which Lovecraft called “thoroughly entertaining in every detail” (I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft (by S.T. Joshi; 2013).  In the novel the narrator can travel into the distant past or future with the aid of a machine or vehicle as it’s called in the novel. Well’s stated in the novel that time is the fourth dimension, which means one would need a timeship to move through it as one would need a spaceship (or plane) to travel the three spatial dimensions. The use of a timeship was a fairly common troupe in science fiction literature in the early 20th century; however, for Lovecraft traveling through time and even space did not require a vehicle.

wells_maxresdefault George Pal in the 1960 movie version of H.G. Wells The Time Machine.

A frequent method of Space-Time travel used by Lovecraft was the exchange of consciousnesses between two entities as demonstrated in “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” and extremely effectively in The Shadow Out of Time. Essentially, the consciousness of an individual is a huge amount of information that is downloaded into the body of another. The Yithians appeared to master this on a species level, where they would avoid destruction by transferring their collective minds into another species from a distant world as well as from a distant time (past or future). In the case of The Shadow Out of Time the Yithians transferred their collective minds into the Cone-Shaped Beings who resided on Earth in the distant past, becoming what was then known as The Great Race.

great-race_AJ_Jankins_hatesnack.com.jpg A member of the Great Race by AJ Jankins (www.hatesnack.com)

By having the consciousness and not the material body travel through time Lovecraft avoids the compilations of removing matter from one time-stream and dumping into another. Essentially, information and not matter travels through time. As has been discussed in previous articles on The Shadow Out of Time such technology may be a possible way for humans to travel through interstellar space and possibly become immortal (The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind by Michio Kaku; 2014).

michio-kaku-future-of-the-mind

This form of time travel, particularly on a species level, avoids the need for the physical transport of an individual or individuals from one time to another, thus avoiding paradoxes with meeting oneself from a different time. This concept of time traveling and avoiding the paradox of meeting one’s self will be further reviewed in next week’s discussion of “The Silver Key.” Thank you – Fred.

 

H.P. Lovecraft and Time Travel

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“I think I am probably the only living person to whom the ancient 18th century idiom is actually a prose and poetic mother-tongue.”

“-leaving the sunny downstairs 19th century flat, and boring my way back through the decades into the late 17th, 18th and early 19th century by means of innumerable crumbling and long-s’d tomes of every size and nature – “

“I am certainly a relic of the 18th century both in prose and in verse.”

Based on these quotes, taken from S.T. Joshi’s I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft (2013), H.P. Lovecraft felt trapped in the future. He frequently talked about “the supremely rational 18th century” when great strides in physics, astronomy, chemistry and biology were made. A large part of Lovecraft’s own philosophy of life was based on Hugh Samuel Roger Elliot’s Modern Science and Materialism (originally published in 1919), which in turn is largely based on the rational thought and science of the latter half of the 18th century and 19th century.

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By the end of the 19th century, it was thought that the Laws of Nature and Life were fully understood. This is why Einstein’s Theories of Relativity were initially distressing to some scientists as well as Lovecraft. While Lovecraft did eventually resolve his view of the Universe with Einstein’s theories, as can actually be seen in the evolution of his stories, he experienced this same concern over his view of the cosmos with quantum theory. While Lovecraft’s view of the cosmos was indifferent and uncaring relative to humanity and all life, it was based on the cosmos functioning under well-established rules and laws of nature (Newton’s Laws of Gravitation, Darwin and Wallace’s Theory of Evolution, etc.) like a large machine. The Theories of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics shook this up and thus Lovecraft’s philosophy. Such “strange science,” coupled with his preference for the literature of the previously centuries (see above), made Lovecraft pine to live in the 17th, 18th or early 19th century.

finlay_lovecraft H.P. Lovecraft as an 18th century poet by the great Virgil Finlay.

Given Lovecraft’s wish to live in a simpler time, it is not surprising that time travel would periodically show up in his stories. As previously discussed, tales such as “The White Ship” and The Shadow Out of Time, are examples of moving out of our perceived linear, Newtonian flow of time. Einstein essentially linked Space with Time, which means that if a stable and large enough wormhole could be created, time travel may be possible. Suddenly, time was not simply linear.

yith-2014 The Great Race were expert time travelers (illustration by Steve Maschuck)

To Newton and the physicists that followed, Time was thought of as an arrow; once shot it can’t change its course and moves linearly in one direction. With Einstein’s Space-Time as described in his Theory of General Relativity, space (and therefore time) could be warped. Thus, instead of Time being thought of as an arrow, it was more like a meandering river; gently speeding up in riffles and slowing down in pools with small eddies of backflow (Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions and the Future of the Cosmos by Michio Kaku; 2005).

This concept of Time having backflows, whirlpools or forks did worry Einstein, particularly when one of his contemporaries, W. J. Van Stockum, in 1937 found a solution to Einstein’s equations that permitted for the possibility of time travel (Michio Kaku, 2005). Other mathematicians and physicists, for example Kurt Gödel in 1949 and Kip Thorne in 1985, identified various solutions to Einstein’s equations and potential ways to travel in time. Beyond the equations, the methodologies to achieve time travel vary from traveling around an infinitely long cylinder close to the speed of light to traveling around the circumference of the known universe a little faster than its rotating, to the creation of two wormholes traveling at the speed of light, connected with a “bridge” of negative energy. Matter can be thought of as positive energy, gravity can be thought of as negative energy (Michio Kaku, 2005).

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Based on these mathematical calculations, using Einstein’s equations, General Relativity does allow for the possibility of time travel. However, in all cases the problem is one of energy. The amount of energy needed to bend, twist or warp time (Space-Time) is so high that Einstein’s equations actually break down and quantum theory takes over (Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universe, Time-wraps and the 10th Dimension by Michio Kaku, 1995). Thus, while on paper time travel is possible, it’s the engineering that limits its development.

hyperspace_kaku_1995

In many of the potential scenarios for time travel, such as using the gravitation forces of a black hole for the needed energy, the forces / energies would surely destroy us before any time travel occurred. However, many of Lovecraft’s entities are either from Universes with a different set of natural forces and laws or possibly from outside the known multiverse altogether. Thus, the Old Ones may have the ability to harness these forces and energies and use them to travel multiple Space-Times. However, as I have previously hypothesized the “weakness of the Old Ones” is the fact that they cannot form a stable and consistent form of matter in our Space-Time. This is why I believe the Old Ones have not yet dominated our Universe and why they even have any dealings with humanity. We need to provide them with something within our Space-Time, whether its “opening a door” on this side of reality or providing a part of us (e.g. DNA); both of these scenarios are exemplified in “The Dunwich Horror.” However, the one story that I believe best supports the “weakness of the Old Ones” hypothesis is “The Dreams in the Witch-House.”

Walter Gilman, a student at Miskatonic University, is working on some multidimensional mathematics and quantum mechanics for his graduate work. Indeed, for time travel since General Relativity begins to break down into the quantum level, both need to be united in higher dimensions – in fact up to 10 or 11 dimensions; our four dimensions plus six to seven others folded and tucked out of our reality. Accessing these higher dimensions may be a way of entering hyperspace, a means to travel vast distances and times. Indeed, this is what both Walter Gilman and the witch Keziah Mason succeed at doing. However, the vast amount of energy needed to open these higher dimensions are not available to us so how do they do this?  Essentially, the available energy is provided by Nyarlathotep. Thus, using math or magic (to the Old Ones probably the same thing), one gains access or the attention of the Old Ones. The Old Ones provide the energy needed for this hyperspace travel and get something in return. Signing Nyarlathotep’s book in blood may be providing a sample of DNA the Old Ones need to attempt to enter and remain in our Space-Time. Of course the question remains – if we truly want to time travel, is it only achievable if we establish some sort of pact or agreement with the Old Ones? Will we as a species be able to harness, control and utilize the enormous forces and energies needed for interdimensional, interstellar and inter-time travel?

the-dreams-in-the-witch-house-jhc-by-h_-p_-lovecraft-2-2120-p The Dreams in the Witch-House, illustrated by Pete Von Sholly

I would like to conclude with a quote from Michio Kaku (1995) that every much sounds like Lovecraft:

“Einstein’s equations, in some sense, were like a Trojan horse. On the surface, the horse looks like a perfectly acceptable gift, giving us the observed bending of starlight under gravity and a compelling explanation of the origin of the universe. However, inside lurk all sorts of strange demons and goblins, which allow for the possibility of interstellar travel through wormholes and time travel. The price we had to pay for peering into the darkest secrets of the universe was the potential downfall of some of our most commonly held beliefs about our world – that its space is simply connected and its history is unalterable.”

 

I believe Lovecraft would absolutely agree with this – we are finding out the universal machine does not necessarily operate the way we think it does. Next time we will talk about time paradoxes and how Lovecraft handled them in his stories. Thank you – Fred.

The Nature of Ubbo-Sathla and Time Travel

Previously we discussed how Ubbo-Sathla is a seething sea of slime found on early Earth and obliviously guards the tablets of the gods. As an archetype of proto-life on Earth it is hypothesized that Ubbo-Sathla was the original material used by the Elder Things to create complex life on Earth, including the shoggoths. In fact, Ubbo-Sathla, or at least a piece of it, may have been the proto-shoggoth mentioned toward the end of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. The Elder Things arrived on Earth sometime between 4.0 and 2.5 billion years ago (S.T. Joshi, 2001). The oldest microfossils of bacteria are estimated to be as old as 3.43 billion years old, while the oldest microfossils of eukaryotic cells are estimated to be around 1.85 billion years ago (Benton, 2008). Thus, if Ubbo-Sathla was on Earth before the Elder Things, it is entirely possible that the Elder Things utilized material from Ubbo-Sathla and its sea of slime to engineer prokaryotic cells (archaebacteria and eubacteria), the more complex eukaryotic cells (plants, protists, fungi and animals) and super-eukaryotic cells (shoggoths). Additionally, the instructions or “recipe” for the creation of life from the organic sea of slime may have been inscribed on the tablets that Ubbo-Sathla was guarding.

Ubbo_brawlofcthulhu.blogspot.com           Ubbo-Sathla (from http://www.brawlofcthulhu.blogspot.com)

It has been alluded by Clark Ashton Smith that the gods who left their wisdom and lore upon the ultra-stellar stone tablets may have been residents from a previous or other universe. This suggests the hypothesis that life itself, at least on Earth, may not have originated in our universe but came from another, only to be deposited as “slime-seeds” in the form of Ubbo-Sathla. The Elder Things stumbled upon this sea of proto-life slime on Earth and used both the instructions and material to create life on Earth. This may also explain how, over the centuries, the Elder Things would have lost the ability to create life from this raw material. A combination of exhausting the supply of Ubbo-Sathla material, as well as losing the ultra-stellar stone tablets that outlined the methodology, could have easily resulted in the Elder Things losing the ability to create life.

h_p_lovecraft__s_old_one_by_coq92 The Old One, also known as an Elder Thing, by Coq92 (www.deviantart.com)

In addition to the origins and use of Ubbo-Sathla in the creation of life on Earth, a brief mention should be made of the technology associated with time travel, as experienced by Paul Tregardis with the use of the strange milky crystal. As has been discussed in past articles, time travel may only be possible through the transport of a consciousness. Removing an actual, physical entity from one portion of the timeline and depositing it into another may not be possible without either disrupting that timeline for a new one or the destruction of the traveling entity. Thus, a way around this would be to transport a consciousness through space-time and have it displace an entity living’s consciousness in that desired timeline. This methodology is employed by the Great Race of Yith in their space-time travels.

In Lovecraft’s The Shadow Out of Time, the Yithians, in an effort to avoid extinction, moved their entire collection of minds “en masse” into an ancient species on Earth called Cone Shaped Beings (CSBs), switching physical bodies with that species. Combined this symbiotic entity was called “The Great Race.” This transfer of one species consciousness into an others was done through time as well as space; specifically, the Yithian minds flow back through time to ancient Earth to inhabit the bodies of the CSBs.

yithian_communication_m-wayne_miller               Yithian Communication by M. Wayne Miller

The Yithians were known to use strange technology, based on some type of crystalline material, to communicate with others of their kind through space-time.  Perhaps this same type of technology was used to transfer their minds through time and maybe this is what Paul Tregardis stumbled upon when he found the strange milky crystal in that curio shop in Clark Ashton Smith’s tale “Ubbo-Sathla.” What is most interesting, as I have discussed in past articles, is that this transfer of one’s collective consciousness into another vessel may be feasible for humans in the future.

In The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind (Michio Kaku, 2014), Kaku states that sometime in the distant future it may be possible to “reverse engineer” the human brain (which means reproducing a product – in this case the brain – following a detailed examination of its parts) and download this consciousness into some type of supercomputer. Once a mind is digitized and downloaded into a device, it may be possible to transmit these minds into space-time on a laser beam.  As Kaku points out, trillions of pieces of digital data are transmitted routinely on laser beams via fiber-optic cables every day.  The wavelength of a laser beam is microscopic and you can compress vast amounts of information on its wave pattern; even more data can be transferred onto a beam of X-rays, which has a wavelength smaller than an individual atom (Kaku, 2014). The crystalline technology of the Yithians may do exactly this; downloading their minds into the crystal’s configuration and then using laser beams or X-rays (or even gamma rays?) to beam them into some type of controlled microscopic wormhole that opens up hyperspace and then downloads the data into another device or compatible organism.

Yithcomm_nightserpent Yith Communication by Nightserpent (www.deviantart.com)

So what happened to Paul Tregardis’s consciousness when it was transferred into Earth’s distant past? Well first, his consciousness became merged with other past consciousnesses as it traveled back through time, which may have “mudded” his consciousness signal. Second, and probably most important, is maybe Paul’s consciousness ended up being transferred into Ubbo-Sathla and the human mind is just not compatible with this entity. The result was a consciousness that lost all sense of “self” and became part of the blind spawn within the sea of slime that is Ubbo-Sathla.

ubbo_sathla_by_veniaminnavin-d7zdbjc Ubbo-Sathla by Veniaminnavin (www.deviantart.com)

Before we move onto another subject, the next article will briefly discuss the potential mechanisms that may have been utilized by the Elder Things in creating the first life on Earth with Ubbo-Sathla. Thank you – Fred.

Lovecraft’s Use of Evolution, Part 4 The Shadow Out of Time

A member of “The Great Race” by Steve Maschuck

Since “The Shadow Out of Time” has been extensively discussed in pervious articles on this site, this current article will be relatively short.  While “At the Mountains of Madness” is HPL’s origin story and interpretation of Darwinian evolution, “The Shadow Out of Time” is HPL’s example of a dramatic and radical example of natural selection.  As has been previously discussed the Great Race is a fusion of two entities or species – the Cone-Shaped Beings (CSBs) who are natives of Earth and the Yithians whose minds travel time and space, “jumping” from one corporeal species into another.

Based on HPL’s writings the CSBs are Terran in origin and not alien.  In fact the CSBs may actually be another “by-product” (similar to humans) of the Elder Things tinkering with the creation of multi-cellular, eukaryotic life on Earth.  Pervious discussions focused on whether the CSBs are some type of complex mollusk, possibly a member of the Gastropod (snails, slugs) or Cephalopod (octopus, squid) class, an unknown class of mollusk, an unknown phylum of animal life or possibly even an elaborate form of fungi.  Whatever the classification of the CSBs, it is hypothesized that like all multicellular life on Earth, Darwinian evolution gave rise to these creatures.  However, did the merging of the CSBs with the Yithian minds, thus creating the Great Race, alter their course of evolution?

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The major types of mollusks.  Are the Cone Shaped Beings a member of this phylum of life or something completely different?  (Sharon-taxonomy2010-p2.wikispaces.com).

Very little is known about the CSBs before their merging with the Yithian minds.  Were they simple, mindless, passive fungi, exuding exoenzymes into the environment to break down and accelerate the rate of decomposition of organic matter as a source of food and energy?  Or were they fairly intelligent mollusks with the curiosity and cognitive abilities of an octopus?  We may never know.  However, once the Yithians started to occupy the CSBs – thus creating the Great Race – this “new” symbiotic species was sentient and immediately developed technology and a civilization.  Such a punctuated form of evolution has never before been documented in the history of live on Earth.

From a Darwinian point of view this creation of a new symbiotic species was like either inserting a set of beneficial genes into the species or drastically changing the environment, either one driving natural selection into another direction.  An example of this later idea can be found in the peppered moth (Biston betularia).

The peppered moth is a nocturnal moth found in England.  Prior to the industrial revolution, the majority of the peppered moths in England had light-colored wing patterns so they resembled the trees and lichens.  This form of camouflage was effective to avoid being eaten by birds.  However, after the industrial revolution was in full swing, many of the lichens died and the trees were covered with black soot.  This resulted in a shift in the gene frequency from light color pigmentation to darker colors.  Thus, over time the moth population was dominated by darker individuals since they were better adapted to be camouflaged against predators on the soot-lined trees (Evolution: The First Four Billion Years, edited by Michael Ruse & Joseph Travis, 2009).  A similar dramatic shift in the course of evolution may have occurred when the Yithian minds merged with the CSB bodies.

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Peppered moths (Biston betularia) on light and dark colored trees (www.truthinscience.org.uk)

While the merging with the Yithian minds was an “internal” change in the CSBs, it does not appear to include a direct change or modification in the CSB genome.  Thus, this change operates more as a change in the environment than a change in the species genome.  However, if the merging of the Yithian minds only occurred with a sub-set of the CSB population, it may be possible that this symbiosis does end up being selective on a genetic level.  To answer this question, it needs to be known if all CSBs merged with Yithian minds or if there was some degree of selection with this symbiotic merger.

Once the CSBs had the advantage of immediately acquired intelligence, it “freed” them in a sense from many of the previous selective pressures such as competition for resources and possibly predation / parasitism.  At a minimum the creation of the Great Race substantially reduced these selective pressures.  However, new, selective pressures came into place such as the creation of communities and a civilization that interacted, and at times clashed, with others species on Earth.  Indeed, such a relatively quick change in the course of their evolution and the development of their civilization / technology must have perplexed the Elder Things.

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Yithian by the talented artist Mike Bukowski (www.lastchanceillustration.com)

Next time we will be moving into a series of formal discussions on HPL’s “The Call of Cthulhu.”  Thank you – Fred.

 

 

Lovecraft’s Use of Evolution, Part 2 The Shadow Over Innsmouth

 

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Charles Darwin (from http://www.amillionlives.net)

In the pervious article we discussed how evolution was integrated into HPL’s early stories.  This article focuses on the use of evolution in his later tales.  Evolutionary-based themes can be detected in HPL’s earlier tales and two were particularly common.  First, since the Earth, and in fact the solar system, will not be in existence for all of eternity and will eventually be swept away, means the process and outcome of evolution is a relatively minor component of the “cosmic machine.”  Second, and more obvious, is the internal horror’s of one’s past or ancestry.  While HPL probably knew very little about the science of genetics and the role of DNA in the transfer of traits from parent to offspring, the fear of how such hidden genotypic traits may arise and manifest themselves in one’s phenotype was apparent in many of his early stories.

In contrast, HPL’s later stories moved from the horror’s of one’s past to larger themes of cosmic and evolutionary horror.  Examples of this are provided through brief discussions on three of HPL’s later stories:  “The Shadow Out of Innsmouth”, “The Mountains of Madness” and “The Shadow Out of Time.”  Since I have covered these stories to varying degrees in previous articles I will focus primarily on how HPL used evolution in these stories.  While “The Shadow Out of Time” was covered in detail over a series of past articles, the other two stories were not.  “The Shadow Out of Innsmouth” and “The Mountains of Madness” were only covered in past articles relative to the biology of the entities featured in those stories, so I will return to them sometime in the future.  Thus, for this article the specific focus is on the use of evolution on one of these later stories – “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”  However, before we do this, I would like to briefly review what was known about genetics and its role in evolution in HPL’s time.  A forthcoming  article will discuss  “The Mountains of Madness” and “The Shadow Out of Time.”

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“Shadow Over Innsmouth” by the great artist Allen Koszowski

While Darwin’s idea of natural selection was presented as the driving force of evolution, in his day very little was known of the mechanisms behind the transfer of the traits or characteristics from parent to offspring. It was casually thought that offspring were a “blending” of traits from each parent but there was little empirical data that supported this idea. In his heart Darwin knew this was not the case, particularly due to his work on artificial selection; that is, the breeding of domesticated plants and animals. However, around the same time Darwin was developing his notes and ideas to publish The Origins of Species, an Augustinian monk was performing hybridization experiments on the garden pea that would represent the birth of modern genetics and provide a plausible hypothesis in the transfer of an organism’s traits to its offspring.

Gregor Johann Mendel was born in 1822 in Czechoslovakia. He was a monk but was also a teacher and scientist with interests in both physics and botany. From 1854 to 1868 Mendel preformed a series of detailed and meticulous experiments that developed into the concept of units of inheritance. Offspring were not a blending of the parents. Instead, discreet units were transmitted to offspring, some dominant and some recessive, which dictated the traits the offspring received. These units are called genes (Concepts of Genetics by William S. Klug and Michael R. Cummings; 1983).

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Gregor Mendel with a display of one of this genetic experiments with garden peas (www.undsci.berkeley.edu)

In spite of his incredible findings, Mendel’s work was largely forgotten until the early 20th century.  However, an integration of Mendelian genetics with Darwinian natural selection was to come to fruition in HPL’s day thanks to a talented mathematian / biologist named Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890-1962).

Fisher was one of the first individuals to suggest that statistics can be used to reduce / analyze data and published a book in 1925, Statistical Methods for Research Workers, that outlined and discussed methods in the design and evaluation of experiments (Evolution: The First Four Billion Years, edited by Michael Fuse & Joseph Travis, 2009).  In addition, he published a seminal paper in 1922 on the mathematical synthesis of Darwinian natural selection with the recently rediscovered laws of Mendelian heredity.  Subsequent to this, his book The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection (1930) was published.  This book along with the work of others in the field reconciled Darwinian natural selection with Mendelian heredity (Michael Fuse & Joseph Travis, 2009), which contributed toward the birth of quantitative genetics.  While much of this work was being developed and published in the 1920 – 1930’s there is no indication in HPL’s stories or in S.T. Joshi’s biography (I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft, 2013), that HPL was familiar with, or even exposed to, the emerging science of genetics.  With that said, it is impressive how HPL used concepts that mirrored many of the ideas that were being developed through quantitative generics.  This was particularly the case with “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

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Ronald Aylmer Fisher (www.blackwellpublishing.com)

By the time he was working on the “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” HPL had a fairly decent understanding that evolution works on the level of the population and not the individual.  In stories such as “The Beast in the Cave” and “Pickman’s Model” evolution appeared to be working on the level of the individual.  By “The Lurking Fear” HPL identified that the population was the level at which natural selection operates even though most of the changes were completely internal – an isolated community where inbreeding is high.  However, by “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” HPL expanded on this by integrating external forces and environmental factors in the operation of natural selection.

From a genetics and evolutionary standpoint “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” is about the hybridization of two closely related species.  Given the fact that Deep Ones can breed with humans and produce viable offspring indicates that they are closely related species, which is why I suggested that Deep Ones and humans should be placed in the genus, Homo aquatium and Homo sapiens, respectively.  Of all of the hypotheses I have suggested on Lovecraftianscience.wordpress.com, the origin of the Deep Ones generated the highest level of debate.  In fact, I suggested four hypotheses:

1.  The Deep Ones are part of the “spawn of Cthulhu” and thus are truly alien.

2.  The Deep Ones were bioengineered by the Elder Things – like humans – but as a separate line of speciation.

3.  The Deep Ones and humans share a common ancestor the way humans and the Great Apes do.

4.  Humans are simply the part of the Deep Ones Life Cycle, the way tadpoles are the larval stage for frogs.

Deep One Hybrid Skull Evolution (by Vonmeer-d5vnle3 from deviantart.net)

Of these hypotheses, I suggest that most of the existing evidence points to hypothesis #3, we share a common ancestor.  While many people feel the Deep Ones are truly alien and are part of the spawn of Cthulhu, I disagree.  The fact that Deep Ones and humans can breed and produce “viable” offspring means that from a genetic and evolutionary perspective, they must be closely related.  To support that hypothesis it would need to be determined if indeed the hybridized Deep Ones (the ones that are born human and become Deep Ones) can reproduce.  Also, it is also not known if the Deep Ones that do breed with humans are “pure” Deep Ones or originating from being hybrids themselves.  If these breeding Deep Ones are “pure” then that would support hypothesis #3; however, if the breeding Deep Ones start out as hybrids themselves, then that would support hypothesis #4.

In any event, to lend support to any of the four hypotheses listed above, genetic studies(e.g. gene sequencing and phylogenetic comparisons) of some Deep Ones would be required.  Preferably such screening would include both fully developed Deep Ones as well as hybrids that have yet to go through Deep One metamorphosis.  Also, it needs to be confirmed if there is genetic difference between “pure” Deep Ones and the hybrids and, if so, can the hybrids breed?  Such studies would have been extremely intriguing to both Gregor Mendel and R.A. Fisher, although the actual implementation and “on the ground” research itself would have indeed horrified them.

Day of the Deep Ones (by Cryptcrawler on deviantart.com)

Next time we will discuss the role of evolution in “At the Mountains of Madness” and “The Shadow Out of Time.”  Thank you – Fred.

Beyond the Wall of Sleep, Part 3 – The Co-Habitation of Joe Slater

In the pervious article we discussed the possibility that Joe Slater had schizophrenia, which would explain his violent mood swings and hallucinations.  However, in HPL’s “Beyond the Wall of Sleep,” the intern at the unnamed New England institute discovers that Joe is actually “possessed” by another entity.  Thus, it is possible that the symptoms of schizophrenia have manifested in Joe as a result of his mind trying to copy with his body housing two consciousnesses?  Is it possible that all or most people suffering from schizophrenia are trying to cope with a similar situation?  Are Joe’s auditory and visual hallucinations actually the thoughts or experiences of the entity nested and dwelling within his body?  And what of this parasitic entity?  What is it and where does it come from?

Relative to the actual entity within Joe, HPL gives very little information.  A similar story by another author could have easily shifted into pure supernatural, where Joe is being possessed by a demon and an exorcism is required.  Such ideas were not of interest to HPL and his philosophy of materialism.  However, Beyond the Wall of Sleep is one of HPL’s earliest literary expressions of cosmic horror, something he will master later in life.  In addition, as S.T. Joshi has cited Beyond the Wall of Sleep is one of HPL’s first “quasi-science-fiction” tales, a term Joshi uses since “science-fiction” itself would not be properly defined until a little later in the 20th century (I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft by S.T. Joshi; 2013).

Again, little is known about this entity but the fact that its consciousness has been trapped in Joe Slater’s mind his whole life indicates it must have been with Joe either before or immediately after his birth.  HPL discussed similar mind transfers in “The Shadow Out of Time” and there situations were discussed where the mind of a member of the Great Race would switch with the mind of the species they are studying.  Without the strange crystalline machines that aid in transferring the minds through space-time, a member of the Great Race could be marooned in a species, in a particular time and place.  So, is the entity in Joe Slater a member of the Great Race?

The Great Race (from the Lovecraft Tarot by David Wynn and D.L. Hutchinson, Illustrator)

I think this is very unlikely for fourth reasons.  First, the Grate Race typically switch minds with an individual; they do not cohabitate the same body.  Second, while I suppose a member of the Great Race could enter the mind of a new born child I think this extremely unlikely since the members of the Great Race back on ancient Earth would then have to deal with a large Cone-Shaped Being with an infant’s mind!  Third, I can’t imagine a member of the Great Race actually communicating with the intern.  The Great Race made every effort to avoid being exposed to other species.  Fourth, the behavior of the entity did not have the scientific perspective of the Great Race.  To be blunt, the entity was kind of a jerk and was obsessed with getting revenge on Algol, the daemon-star.  More on that in a future article.  Thus, based on the evidence we have it is highly unlikely that the entity is a member of the Great Race.  However, the entity may have used similar technology or principles that the Great Race uses but for some reason ended up stuck in Joe Slater.

The entity itself does not have a distinct corporal form and is described as a luminous thing.  In addition, the enemy that the entity is so obsessed with appears to a member of the same luminescent non-corporeal species.  The strange, luminescent appearance of the entity apparently gives it the ability to fly through space and “burn” (pass through?) matter.

An illustration for “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” from Weird Tales, Volume 31, March 1938 – the luminescent non-corporeal entities.

When the intern makes “cosmic radio” contact with the entity, he becomes a , luminescent non-corporeal thing as well. He calls the entity his “brother of light” and after a period of time traveling through space and exchanging thoughts the intern ends up back in his human shell. At that point Joe Slater is dead, which frees the alien entity. However, before the entity leaves for the cosmos he mentions that Joe’s body “could not undergo the needed adjustments between ethereal life and planet life.” The entity also tells the intern that he is his brother of light and that floating with him in the efflulgent valleys, they are now fellow wanderers in space and time. This obviously is HPL’s blatant “classism” coming into play.

According to HPL, while a rural resident of upstate New York would not be able to mentally cope with the cosmic sights and sounds the entity provided, an educated, upper class, city-dweller such as the intern surely can. I feel that the idea of one’s status in society dictating how one would mentally process the mental invasion of an alien entity is simply incorrect as a functioning mechanism. While some minor genetic differences between Joe and the intern may account for this difference, such a mechanism is based on biology and not social status (evolution through natural selection vs. social Darwinism).

More importantly, the intern had a brief encounter with the luminescent entity, while Joe has had to deal with it occupying his brain his whole life, providing sights and sounds he could not comprehend; sights and sounds that no one else was exposed to in Joe’s life. The intern was looking for answers while Joe had no choice in the matter.  Thus, isn’t it possible that Joe was not equipped to deal with the ethereal life as a result of an entire lifetime of mental erosion from sharing his mind with the entity?  Who knows how the intern would begin to react to entity if it constantly occupied his mind?

Next time we will talk about the technology the intern invented and used to communicate with the entity from beyond the wall of sleep.  Thank you – Fred.

Beyond the Wall of Sleep by Soldeus Trenton Shuck

 

Lovecraft’s Visit to the Moons of Jupiter

Jupiter and its four major moons (from http://www.wikipedia.org)

In 364 B.C.  the Chinese astronomer Gan De may have been the first human in history to observe one of the moons of Jupiter.  However, it was in 1610  when Galileo was the first to person to observe and document the four major moons of Jupiter (The Planets by Dava Sobel; 2005).  Ranking the major moons first through fourth by their order from closest to furthest away from the planet they are Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

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First major moon of Jupiter – Io (solarsystem.nasa.gov)

In HPL’s time there was a flurry of activity relative to the discovery of new Jovian moons.  From Galileo’s time till the late 19th century no new moons were discovered.  However, in 1892 E.E. Barnard discovered Amalthea.  With the use of telescopic photography other moons were soon discovered.  HPL documented some of these discovers in his astronomical articles.  For example, in the Providence Evening News, 31 October 1914 HPL mentions the discovery of a ninth moon orbiting Jupiter by Seth B. Nicholson earlier that same year (Collected Essays: Science, Volume 3 by S.T. Joshi, 2005).  Currently, the total number of moons orbiting Jupiter is more than 60 and counting.

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Artist’s concept of a view of Jupiter and the sun from the surface of Europa (solarsystem.nasa.gov)

In his tales HPL mentions Jupiter once and its satellites twice.  In Through the Gates of the Silver Key (co-written with E. Hoffmann Price) in the same passage where Swami Chandraputra is describing the travels of Randolph Carter’s and he references Mars, he also talks about how he “learned an untellable secret from the close-glimpsed mists of Jupiter…”  What strange secrets do the mists of Jupiter hold?  Was Randolph Carter talking about the Great Red Spot; is the Spot some vast entity feeding on the hydrogen and helium of Jupiter.  Or, is the Spot entity slowly dying, which is why its shrinking in size.

Swami Chandraputra, an alias of Randolph Carter’s in Through the Gate of the Silver Key (megamitensei.wikia.com)

In The Shadow Out of Time in the same passage where Peaslee mentions a mind that will live on Venus in the distance future, he also talks about “one from an outer moon of Jupiter six million years in the past.”  The two outer moons of the major four are Ganymede, and Callisto.  Is it possible one of these satellites was a way-station for the Yithians in the transfer of their minds eventually to Earth?

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The third major moon of Jupiter – Ganymede (solarsystem.nasa.gov)

In a previous article about HPL’s The Shadow Out of Time we discussed, using much of the physics described in Michio Kaku’s The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind (2014), how it may be possible to transfer the collective memories of an entity through time and space.  However, to do so would require beacons or way-stations to accept the information, download it and then transfer it to the next station until it can be finally “downloaded” into a biological entity.  Is the mind on the outer Jovian moon a Yithian who got lost in the cosmic transfer of minds, only to make it back to our solar system millions of years later?  Or, is the mind something else?

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Yithian communication or the transfer of a mind through time and space?  (by M. Wayne Miller)

Probably the most intriguing mention of the Jovian system in HPL’s stories is in Beyond the Walls of Sleep.  In that tale the entity or mind that possesses Joe Slater talks about his travels through time, space and dimensions, which includes dwelling in “the bodies of the insect –philosophers that crawl proudly over the fourth moon of Jupiter.”

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An insect-philosopher from the fourth moon of Jupiter (from the talented artist Michael Bukowski; yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

With the ranking of the major moons previously described, the fourth moon would be Callisto.  Thus, do the insect –philosophers crawl over Callisto?

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The fourth major moon of Jupiter – Callisto (solarsystem.nasa.gov)

Of the four major moons, Europa is the one that has the highest potential for life.  While an icy moon, Europa is thought to have a global ocean of water in contact with a rocky seafloor.  While it has some oxygen in its atmosphere it is far too thin to breathe.  However, with abundant liquid water, and energy provided by tidal heating, Europa could be the best place in the solar system to look for life beyond Earth (solarsystem.nasa.gov).

In contrast to Europa, Callisto is thought to be a long dead world with minimal geologic activity on its surface.  This is in sharp contrast to Io which is one of the most volcanically active bodies in the solar system.  Callisto is the most heavily cratered object in the solar system and has a surface age of about 4 billions years, making it one of the oldest landscapes in the solar system.  Does this ancient landscape still harbor the insect –philosophers or do they now dwell deep within this rocky moon?  Or did Joe Slater’s trip to the fourth moon of Jupiter to see the insect –philosophers occur millions or even billions of years in the past?  Were the insect –philosophers the first sentient entities of our solar system?  Maybe Joe Slate was and will be the only human to know for sure.

Next time we move to the second gas giant, the “jewel of the solar system” as Carl Sagan called it – Saturn.  Thank you – Fred.

A shot of Jupiter and its four major moons (www.wikipedia.org)

 

 

 

Smith and Lovecraft’s Use of the Asteroid Belt in their Fiction

Before we move to Jupiter, I did want to make a few notes on the Asteroid Belt, which is the zone between Mars and Jupiter occupied by a large number of rocks of varying size.  There are tens of thousand of asteroids, also known as planetesimals or planetoids, orbiting the sun between 1.52 and 5.2 astronomical units (the Earth is 1.0 astronomical units away from the sun).  For reasons generally unknown, although there are a number of hypothesizes, these planetesimals never coagulated into a planet (Cosmology: The Science of the Universe by Edward R. Harrison; 1981).

First full picture of an asteroid (243 Ida) and its associated moon.  243 Ida is about 35 miles long while its moon is about a mile across (jpl.nasa.gov).

In HPL’s day the general thought was that asteroids were the fragments or pieces of an exploded or destroyed world that existed between Mars and Jupiter (Collected Essays Volume 3: Science, H.P. Lovecraft; edited by S.T. Joshi, 2005).  Currently, the prevailing hypothesis why the asteroids never formed into a planet is that they were prevented from coalescing due to the large gravitational pull of Jupiter (The History of Astronomy by Michael Hoskin; 2003).  In other words, due the immense size and mass of Juipter, the asteroids are a planet that failed to be.

New asteroids were being identified through the late 19th and early 20th century and HPL reported on a number of these new discoveries in his astronomical articles.  The identification of new asteroids continues to this day.

In HPL’s fiction, there is one reference to asteroids and that is in The Shadow Out of Time.  This involves the recovered memories of Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee when his mind occupies one of the Cone-Shaped Beings.  Peaslee recalls that the hieroglyphs and language in one of the books of the Great Race was used by a captive mind living on or in a large asteroid.  HPL eludes to the fact that this mind is a form of ancient life that once lived on a primal planet that existed between Mars and Jupiter but was destroyed sometime in the past.

An illustration from HPL’s The Shadow Out of Time by Howard V. Brown

This reference to an ancient mind surviving in one of the asteroids is very intriguing.  Since the Great Race can travel through time and space, I wonder if they somehow warned the beings on the anicent planet located between Mars and Jupiter of their impending doom.  Maybe this is one the minds that survived the catastrophe thanks to the Great Race; forever trapped in the remains of it’s extinct world slowly orbiting the sun.

This 1988 Arkham House edition of Clark Ashton Smiths A Rendezvous in Averoigne includes the story Master of the Asteroid.

Clark Ashton Smith has a story called Master of the Asteroid, originally published in Wonder Stories; October 1932.  Again, like many of his solar system tales it is dark and forbidding, reminding one of the ALIEN universe.  In the far off distant future year of 1980, three psychologically unbalanced men decide to leave a Mars colony, for one of the moons of Jupiter.  They never make it to their destination and end up on one of the larger asteroids (called Phocea in the story by CAS but probably referring to 25 Phocaea, which was discovered in 1853 by J. Chacornac) populated by a strange race of intelligent walking sticks, similar to the Terran insect family of Phasmidae, as well as another alien presence.  Another excellent, yet dark, story by Clark Ashton Smith.

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The October 1932 issue of Wonder Stories; the cover features a scene from Clark Ashton Smith’s story Master of the Asteroid

I would like to conclude this article by mentioning that Mars has two moons – some of the smallest moons of any of the planets in our solar system.  These moons were discovered by Asaph Hall in 1877.  A prevailing hypothesis is that these moons, Phobos (meaning panic / fear) and Deimos (meaning terror / dread) are thought to be asteroids that were eventually caught in Mars gravitational field.

Next time we will definitely move onto the first of the outer gas giants in Lovecraft’s solar system.  Thank you – Fred.