We’re back and we’re setting our long-range scanners to search the cosmos for the insidious influence of the Mythos. One of the things that set Lovecraft’s work apart from the Gothic tales that had previously dominated the genre was the way it incorporated elements of science fiction. This isn’t to say that Lovecraft was the first writer to mix horror and SF—they have been kissing cousins since Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein.

Charles Ogle as Frankenstein's monster

Pucker up!

Instead, Lovecraft used science fiction elements to make a kind of supernatural horror that had no reliance on the supernatural itself. By using aliens as his gods and monsters, he created something that felt both familiar and utterly different from anything that had gone before. H G Wells’s Martians may have had tentacles and travelled to Earth on meteors, but no one ever worshipped them as gods.

Maybe they would have inspired more awe had they looked less like testicles.

Our discussion focuses on how a number of classic science fiction tropes are used in Lovecraft and Call of Cthulhu. The main topics we cover are aliens, space travel, other dimensions, time travel and mad science. We also look at some published games and Call of Cthulhu settings that bring the SF aspects of the Mythos to the forefront. We wrap things up by brainstorming some science fiction scenario ideas of our own.

We never said we used our own brains…

This episode also sees a brief audio review of a new collection of Mythos stories, The Private Life of Elder Things. If you want to read a more in-depth review, we published one recently.

As we also mention this episode, there is still time to ensure you receive a copy of issue 2 of The Blasphemous Tome. This is the fanzine that we produce exclusively for people who back the podcast on Patreon. If you are a backer at the time of release (probably in early February) then you will receive at least one copy. Please see our recent update for more details.

Episode061

We’re back, and we’re watching horror films about books. We don’t mean films based on books (although one is, just to confuse things), but films where a book plays a central role. In fact, you could argue that the books in question are characters and not mere plot devices. Wooden performances are easier to forgive when you’re largely made of wood pulp.

NinthGate

If you flick the pages just right, you can hear a distinct “Whoa”.

Our two choices are The Ninth Gate  (1999) and Maléfique (2002). We didn’t mean to review another Polanski film so soon after our dust-up over Repulsion in episode 51, but the Devil made us do it. Predictably, we disagree completely about the film’s merits once again, although this time the tables are turned.

malefique

“That got a bit heated!”

Our discussion takes in some other French horror films that followed in the wake of Maléfique, including High Tension/Switchblade Romance, InsideFrontière(s), Martyrs and Livid. We end, as ever, with a look at what elements we can steal for use in our games.

malefique_2002

“Attract Fish? Should be safe enough…”

In the introduction, we discuss getting ready for the Concrete Cow convention in Milton Keynes. True to form, we weren’t organised enough to do this in an episode that would come out before the convention. The good news is that you don’t have long to wait until the next one. Concrete Cow 16 takes place on the 12th of March 2016, and it will be the convention’s 10th birthday celebration. There will be cake. And games. And cows. Well, maybe not cows.

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Not pictured: Scott or Matt doing rude things.

Episode057

We’re back from the distant past! Our minds have escaped the sinister and rugose clutches of the Great Race, and we have returned to the present to wrap up our discussion of Lovecraft’s classic story, The Shadow Out of Time. In this episode we give our own personal impressions of the story, take a look at adaptations and have a chat about what elements we can steal for games.

Lovecraft punk

Speaking of stealing stuff, here’s that picture of punk Lovecraft, originally posted by Alex Mayo, that we’re convinced is actually a photograph of Paul.

The only film adaptation we could find was an odd Swedish short (with English narration) that condenses the story into 15 minutes. The result is how we’d imagine a modern piece by Georges Méliès would look, if he weren’t too busy being dead. Happily the film is on YouTube, so you can enjoy its pleasingly idiosyncratic style by taking no more strenuous action than clicking below.

We also mention the HP Lovecraft Historical Society’s audio adaptation, which is part of their excellent Dark Adventure Radio Theatre line. A very different audio take on the story is The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets‘ concept album, The Shadow Out of Tim. We were supposed to be discussing this with singer (not to mention prolific RPG artist and writer) Toren Atkinson, but, appropriately enough, time worked against us. Here’s a little taste of the album by way of recompense.

And, as ever, you can find a comprehensive and eclectic analysis of the story over at the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast. Their discussion of The Shadow Out of Time begins here.