From ‘Notes On Weird Fiction’

4. A List of Certain Basic Underlying Horrors Effectively Used in Weird Fiction

[1.] Unnatural life in a house, and unnatural linkage of lives of separate persons.
[2.] Premature burial.
[3.] Listening for some approaching horror.
[4.] Metempsychosis—a dead being forces its personality upon the living.
[5.] Offspring of a mortal and a daemon.
[6.] Any mysterious and irresistible march toward a doom.
[7.] Unnatural life in a picture—transfer of life from person to picture.
[8.] Prolongation or persistence of an abnormal animation in the dead.
[9.] Duplication of a personality.
[10.] Ravages on a grave—discovery that the seemingly dead is alive.
[11.] Unnatural connexion betwixt an object and some image of it.
[12.] Membership in hellish cult of witchcraft or daemonolatry.
[13.] Presence of horrible hidden race in lonely region.
[14.] Shocking metamorphosis or decay of living human as induced by taking unknown and evil drug. Idea of monstrous companion.
[15.] Beasts acting deliberately against man.
[16.] Unseen cosmic presences in certain region—idea of genius loci.
[17.] Psychic residuum in old house = ghost.
[18.] Village whose inhabitants all share monstrous secret rites.
[19.] Elemental spirit intrudes or is invoked.
[20.] Holy organisation secretly goes over to diabolism.
[21.] Subtle vampiric preying of one being on another.
[22.] Terrible hermit in lonely place—preys in some way on travellers.
[23.] Powers of darkness (or cosmic outsideness) besiege or take over sacred edifice.
[24.] Hideous daemon attached to some person (& after his death to certain objects pertaining to that person) through sin, incantation, etc.
[25.] Hideous sacrifices attempted through exercise of some bygone paganism. Ghostly reprisal.
[26.] Changes in a picture corresponding to actual events (present or old) in scene it depicts.
[27.] Evil wizard employs metempsychosis to survive in animal forms and carry out revenge.
[28.] Ghostly room in house—sometimes there, sometimes not.
[29.] Wizard acquiring evil companion through trip to strange region of horror.
[30.] A pursuing thing called from the grave through an injudicious incantation.
[31.] Blast on an exhumed whistle of unknown antiquity summons vague and hellish presence from the Abyss.
[32.] Monstrous supernatural guardian set over treasure or book hidden in ancient ruins.
[33.] A dead man comes from the grave to bear off or punish his murderer.
[34.] Inanimate object acts as living thing to avenge crime.
[35.] Ghost of victim convicts murderer.
[36.] Disturbance of an ancient grave looses a monstrous presence on the world.
[37.] Magical telescope (or cognate device) shews the past when looked through.
[38.] Excavation of an ancient and forbidden thing saddles excavator with a hostile shadow, which eventually destroys him.
[39.] A household in great terror of the coming of some unknown doom.
[40.] A sacrilege toward an ancient church summons out of space or the sea an avenging monster which devours the desecrator.
[41.] Perusal of a certain hideous book or possession of a certain awful talisman places person in touch with shocking dream or memory world which brings him eventual destruction.
[42.] Man abnormally akin to lower animals. They avenge his murder.
[43.] Insect hypnotizes man and leads him to his death.
[44.] Ghostly vehicle. Man boards it and is carried into unreal world.
[45.] Sleep-walker drawn nearer and nearer to some horrible place. Tryst with dead, etc.
[46.] Body buried beneath cellar hounds murder (or injurer) to death.
[47.] In savage land, hermit priest guards old shrine containing a very strange and ancient Presence. Accident looses presence, and harm is done to person responsible.
[48.] Remote island region at extreme limit of world—Edge of Abyss. Strange horror appears there.
[49.] Ghouls of the sea that come to land in guise of seals and prey upon mankind.
[50.] Reconstruction of ancient temple or re-dedication of ancient altar evokes dangerous, unbodied forces.
[51.] Evil student reanimates mummy 4000 years old, and forces it to do his murderous bidding.
[52.] Man tries to recapture all of his past, aided by drugs and music acting on memory. Extends process to hereditary memory—even to pre-human days. These ancestral memories figure in dreams. Plans stupendous recovery of primal past—but becomes sub-human, develops a hideous primal odour, takes to the woods, and is killed by own dog.
[53.] Traveller coming upon something horrible in strange place—as a horror in a cabin with lighted window found in a forest’s depths.
[54.] Dream and waking worlds confused.
[55.] Some past (or future) horror just outside memory (or prescience).
[56.] Entire scene and set of events caused by hypnosis—proceeding either from living person or from corpse or other harbourer of residual psychic force.
[57.] Coming to unknown place and finding one has some hitherto latent memory of it, or hideous connexion with it.

‘Memory’ by H.P. Lovecraft

In the valley of Nis the accursed waning moon shines thinly, tearing a path for its light with feeble horns through the lethal foliage of a great upas-tree. And within the depths of the valley, where the light reaches not, move forms not meet to be beheld. Rank is the herbage on each slope, where evil vines and creeping plants crawl amidst the stones of ruined palaces, twining tightly about broken columns and strange monoliths, and heaving up marble pavements laid by forgotten hands. And in trees that grow gigantic in crumbling courtyards leap little apes, while in and out of deep treasure-vaults writhe poison serpents and scaly things without a name.
     Vast are the stones which sleep beneath coverlets of dank moss, and mighty were the walls from which they fell. For all time did their builders erect them, and in sooth they yet serve nobly, for beneath them the grey toad makes his habitation.
     At the very bottom of the valley lies the river Than, whose waters are slimy and filled with weeds. From hidden springs it rises, and to subterranean grottoes it flows, so that the Daemon of the Valley knows not why its waters are red, nor whither they are bound.
     The Genie that haunts the moonbeams spake to the Daemon of the Valley, saying, “I am old, and forget much. Tell me the deeds and aspect and name of them who built these things of stone.” And the Daemon replied, “I am Memory, and am wise in lore of the past, but I too am old. These beings were like the waters of the river Than, not to be understood. Their deeds I recall not, for they were but of the moment. Their aspect I recall dimly, for it was like to that of the little apes in the trees. Their name I recall clearly, for it rhymed with that of the river. These beings of yesterday were called Man.”
     So the Genie flew back to the thin horned moon, and the Daemon looked intently at a little ape in a tree that grew in a crumbling courtyard.

Cthulhu in Westeros

I recently noticed that the Drowned God in the Game of Thrones series is quite similar to Cthulhu/Dagon.

There’s a similarity between its litany and the famous couplet from the Necronomicon:

What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.

The location of the cult, the Iron Islands, has the air of a sinister Lovecraftian small town such as Innsmouth, being poor, isolated, and hostile to outsiders (as well as, obviously, being by the sea).

The ruling family, the Greyjoys, also uses a kraken on its arms:


Update on my writing.

They Say the Sirens Left the Seas

Obviously They Say the Sirens Left the Seas is now out, and I’ve been trying to get book bloggers to promote it.


Last year I finished a long poem called ‘Telelee’, about visitors from Earth to the fantasy city (or a version of it anyway). I hoped that Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, which has published a couple of my shorter poems, might be interested in publishing it. However HFQ has had it since November last year and, as they haven’t responded to my follow-up email, I think they might have ceased to exist.

Since most poetry magazines pay ‘by the poem’ rather than by the word, there are very few potential markets for it.

So I’m planning to contact another potential market next month. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go straight to self-publishing.

I’m planning to publish the poem along with the short stories I’ve written set in Telelee, most of which were in The New Death and others.

I’m also considering including ‘The Encyclopedia of Telelee’: that is, the things I’ve posted on my blog about the city, edited, cross-referenced and put into alphabetical order. I’m interested to know whether people would find this interesting, or see this as self-indulgent ‘let me tell you about my setting’. Please let me know in the comments.

Confession of a Bounty Hunter and My Name Is John Carter.

I have another finished and unpublished long poem, this time set in the old West. This has even fewer potential magazines than ‘Telelee’, because it isn’t fantasy.

I’m planning to put this one out, along with a couple of other poems set in the old West that are in They Say the Sirens…, and one other, as soon as I write the one other.

I have an abandoned, unfinished verse version of A Princess of Mars, which emphasizes John Carter’s life before Mars. I’m considering rewriting what I’ve done to make it the fourth poem for this publication. However this is ‘in the queue’. I’m currently working on…

Once Upon a Time In Araby

A non-fantasy long poem set in a not-very-historical version of ancient Arabia. Given that, as I’ve already discussed, long poems are very hard to get into magazines, this one will probably end up going straight to self-publishing as well (I seem to have a tendency to be good at things the less commercial they are).

The Case of the Syphilitic Sister and The Adventure of the Resurrected Nobleman

These are unfinished works of prose.

The first is a combination of detective novel and superhero story (via Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Top 10). I’ve written about 10,000 words of this.

The second is a short story in which Sherlock Holmes meets Dracula. However the tone is more serious than that makes it sound. It’s mainly inspired by Neil Gaiman’s A Study In Emerald, which combines Sherlock Holmes with the Cthulhu Mythos.

I’m planning to look at these again in November, when it’s NaNoWriMo.

Unnamed game

A while ago I made Under the Moons of Mars, which was…OK. As I was making it, I found myself less and less happy with using d6 Shooters as a base, and more and more interested in ‘choose your own adventure’-like paragraphs.

I’d like to make a game which would be similar to Barbarian Prince, although with a more original setting, clearer rules, and more variety of characters and encounters. This would use the things I liked from Under the Moons of Mars, along with various other ideas that I’ve either come up with or found in my reading.

I was hoping to pitch this game to Heroic Fantasy Quarterly but, as I said, I think it’s ceased publication (or at least taken a long break). I could pitch it to other fantasy magazines, but I think HFQ was more likely to take it.

It could be put out on computer, and/or in print. The latter would, of course, require some crowd-funding.

Anyway this is probably something I’ll look at after all the other things mentioned above have been dealt with.

Anyway, as always, please let me know your thoughts.

Licensing a ‘shared universe’

I’ve been talking to some other authors about doing a ‘shared universe’.

A shared world is where characters, settings and fictional ‘history’ are open to be used by many authors, but the actual text of the stories is still the property of its author.

A famous example is the ‘Cthulhu Mythos’, where many authors wrote stories which included the Necronomicon, Cthulhu etc., but the authors could still sell the resulting stories and claim them as their own.

I already release my writing using a Creative Commons license. However none of the Creative Commons licenses seem to fit this situation. All the licenses seem to treat a work as a single ‘unit’: you can allow only non-commercial use, allow use to those who allow use in turn, allow use if they don’t alter it, and so on.

There doesn’t seem to be a provision for allowing use of setting information but retaining the right to the text as such.

It might be as simple as saying “the characters and setting are released under this CC license, but the text as such is copyright” But I’d like to have that confirmed. And then what if you want to restrict it – for example ‘you can write stories, but not movies’?

I wonder if there’s a need for a separate ‘Shared Universe License’, or at least for a page that explains how to do it using Creative Commons licenses.

Anyway I’ve emailed a Creative Commons mailing list asking what they say, and I’ll pass on what happens.