Different Seasons

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The Dunwich Horror and Others

The Plot

This volume contains the best of H. P. Lovecraft’s shorter tales of supernatural horror, selected by August Derleth, with texts edited by S. T. Joshi. Most of them originally appeared in the pulp magazine Weird Tales. Several qualify as science fiction, chiefly “The Colour Out of Space” and “The Shadow Out of Time,” first published, respectively, in Amazing Stories and Astounding Stories.

In “The Colour Out of Space,” a meteorite of curious color and chemical properties lands on Nahum Gardner’s farm west of Arkham, Massachusetts. People begin to notice odd changes in the surrounding flora and fauna, as well as in various members of the Gardner family, who slowly undergo both physical and mental decay. After destroying everything living in the vicinity of the farm, the “colour” returns to the sky whence it came, leaving behind a tiny residue that will soon be covered by a new reservoir.

In “The Shadow Out of Time,” Professor Wingate Peaslee of Arkham’s Miskatonic University suffers an extended bout of amnesia. After recovering his memory, he starts to have dreams of a vast Cyclopean city, located in the Southern Hemisphere of some 150 million years before and inhabited by intelligent cone- shaped beings known as the Great Race. It becomes clear that one of these creatures, who can travel through time, has exchanged minds with Peaslee. Eventually, he travels to the desert of Western Australia, where he discovers the ruins of the city of his dreams, beneath which he stumbles across the handwritten history of his own age that he had recorded in his captor’s alien body.

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Three other major tales concern encounters with entities of extraterrestrial origin. In “The Call of Cthulhu,” the piecing together of disparate data, much of it collected by the narrator’s late granduncle, Professor George Gammell Angell, forces him to conclude that a newly risen island in the Pacific Ocean is home to a huge octopoid creature that fell to Earth eons ago. After doing little more than sending psychic signals to sensitives and cultists worldwide, great Cthulhu returns to the ocean depths, but the narrator has forever lost his peace of mind.

In “The Dunwich Horror,” wizard Whateley and his grandson ...

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