We’re back and we’re still being haunted by those hellish dreams surfacing from lost R’yeh like bubbles of pure madness. This is the second part of our discussion of Lovecraft’s classic weird tale, The Call of Cthulhu. Last episode we talked about the first two acts of the story. This time, we wrap up the synopsis, discuss adaptations and influences, and look for gaming inspiration. There are a surprising number of elements of the story that have seen little examination in RPGs, despite its fame.
No discussion of The Call of Cthulhu would be complete without a look at the 2005 film by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society. This is the definitive adaptation, faithful to Lovecraft in a way few other films even attempt. Happily, Sean Branney and Andrew Leman of the HPLHS were able to join us for an extended interview. They offer their thoughts on the story and insights into how the film was made. They also share a few tantalising details of current and future projects. One of the most ambitious of these — an audiobook of Lovecraft’s complete fiction — is available for pre-order now.
Time and holidays have worked against us this episode. We were unable to meet to record our usual last-minute inserts. This means that the news segment is shorter than usual. We still managed to slip in a mention of the new Kickstarter campaign for Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Wars Onslaught 3. We were unsure of the launch date when we recorded, but the campaign has now started.
The other result of our inability to meet was a further delay in thanking new backers. A number of generous people have pledged money via Patreon recently and we promise to thank them all next episode. Two of them (so far) have backed us at the $5 level, which means we shall sing to them. Expect a pair of sanity-blasting exultations of horror next time!
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I’m amazed that in two episodes with three guest Lovecraft experts, nobody touched on the aspect of social commentary in “The Call of Cthulhu.” Specifically, Old Castro’s description of how the Great Old Ones would teach humanity how to turn the world into an orgy of slaughter and bloodshed. In the story he says that in 1907. What happens seven years later? (Hint: World War I.) And when HPL was writing the story in 1926, the world was still convulsed by aftershocks of the Great War, American cities were reeling under gang wars, and the world HPL grew up in was being rapidly swept away. He wasn’t talking about some indeterminate future time for when the stars would be right, he meant “look out the window.”
That’s a very good point. I can’t believe we overlooked that. Thank you!
It’s all too easy to miss the historical context of stories when reading them decades later, but we should have caught that one.
Edit: And you can tell you’re still jet lagged when you respond to a post a second time, forgetting that you already did so weeks earlier!