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Topographic horror
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2019 12:26PM
Hello,

Does anybody know about some classic "topographic" horror tale, something like "The Bad Lands" by John Metcalfe, or "The Dead Valley" by R. A. Cram?

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2019 12:58PM
May I encourage the use of the term "topographic romance" -- if it seems like it would sometimes be useful in the context of weird fiction?

[fancyclopedia.org]

There is also "cartographic romance":

[fancyclopedia.org]

My guess is that much weird fiction really doesn't qualify as either of these, because the setting is not worked out in those terms. The story might have a strong sense of place (Poe's House of Usher), yet not involve maps or much detail. There could be stories that almost do -- I think of Kipling's "They," where the sense of the Sussex locale is important -- but it would be pushing things to argue that it's a topographic romance.

Lovecraft's stories sometimes seem like they could be situated on a map of the region drained by the Miskatonic River, but I don't think HPL created a serious map of the locales.

Dale Nelson

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2019 09:56AM
Thanks, but by using the term "topographic horror" I mean stories where there is something wrong with the landscape. In "Bad Lands", a parallel reality is superimposed on the hilly terrain, in "The Dead Valley", something strange and deadly, inherent in the valley itself, draws the unfortunate to their death. I am looking for for this kind of horror.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2019 10:41AM
That sounds interesting & perhaps some interesting nominations will be forthcoming. My first would be Browning's poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came." Then there's the eerie valley in Alan Garner's novel The Owl Service. Garner is thought of as an author of fantasy for children + an author of difficult novels for adults, but The Owl Service must be one of the best novels of supernatural dread of the last 75 years. The title refers to a set of dinnerware with an ambiguous pattern that relates to ancient Welsh traditions.

Dale Nelson

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2019 11:19AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks, but by using the term "topographic horror"
> I mean stories where there is something wrong with
> the landscape. In "Bad Lands", a parallel reality
> is superimposed on the hilly terrain, in "The Dead
> Valley", something strange and deadly, inherent in
> the valley itself, draws the unfortunate to their
> death. I am looking for for this kind of horror.

"Genius Loci" by CAS.

"The Children of the Pool", by Arthur Machen (we were just discussing this).

"The Lurking Fear", by HPL. I list this because at least one of the subjectively horrible topographical features of the region turns out to have actual plot relevance.

"The Moon-Bog", by HPL: The Bog That Must Not Be Drained.

"The Colour out of Space", by HPL: Explains how "The Blasted Heath" got its name.

"From the Tideless Sea", by William Hope Hodgson, and his other so-called 'Sargasso Sea' stories (including the novel The Boats of the Glen Carrig): In these tales the the weed-sea-scape itself is pretty much the star, though of course it also hides many dangerous critters. But I don't know if you'd call a sea-scape "topographical", even when covered with dense weeds.

The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, features at least one each of an evil forest, evil marsh, and evil mountain. See also The Hobbit, for another evil forest.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 26 Aug 19 | 11:29AM by Platypus.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2019 11:36AM
That Withywindle Valley section of The Fellowship of the Ring. Excellent stuff.

Several Algernon Blackwood stories have a strong sense of place -- "The Willows" (Danube), "The Wendigo" (Ontario, I think), "The Camp of the Dog" (Swedish islands), etc. The sense of place in these stories can be more compelling than the specific horror (especially with the "Camp" story). It's not simple horror that Blackwood tries to evoke, but a sense of wonder too.

S. King's "N," in Just After Sunset.

John Gordon's The House on the Brink is certainly among the things you are looking for.

Again, Garner's The Owl Service -- it would be a shame to miss that one.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2019 01:28PM
Don't miss De la Mare's short story "Crewe."

Perhaps L. P. Hartley's "Podolo" would be to your liking, although it's a bit of a stretch.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 11 November, 2019 07:29PM
Topographic horror? Cannot do much better than The Abominations of Yondo.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 06:39AM
"Dormant" by A. E. van Vogt. Great stuff. Unforgettable. Topographic horror on a sort of Lovecraftian science fiction enormous scale.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 11:55AM
"At the Mountains of Madness"?

"Color Out of Space"?

I kinda don't feel that this is exactly where you're coming from, but not sure.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
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Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 11:58AM
Yes. Owl Service is a good one, Dale. I obtained it and read it at your earlier recommendation.

In fact, the only serious problem I have with it is that the title immediately, and strongly, conjures to mind a delivery company that handles only owls, but other than that it's very good, indeed.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 12:06PM
Hah! Right!

Abominations is very vivid, and to my mind, has a grimly ironic, and hence comic, element such that we are set up to understand that to be in the clutches of the priests was unbearably horrible, but after, what?--a day and night in Yondo?--the poor bastard went back, gladly.

See? This is what Smith is *good* at...grim and ironic comic touches.

As an aside, I'll concede that not everyone would see this as funny, as I do, but there are lots of other such instances that I suspect that many CASers would also find amusing.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 12:10PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "Dormant" by A. E. van Vogt. Great stuff.
> Unforgettable. Topographic horror on a sort of
> Lovecraftian science fiction enormous scale.

Slan. War Against the Rull. Voyage of the Space Beagle.

These were some of my earliest, highly enjoyable, forays into adolescent SF.

I tried a few years back to revisit van Vogt, but he doesn't seem to age well--for me, at least.

How about you, K?

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 01:47PM
"Dormant" (1948). With A. E. van Vogt it's all about the ideas. Sometimes one has to struggle and grapple with the prose, to get through to the ideas. But it is worth it.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 01:58PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I tried a few years back to revisit van Vogt, but
> he doesn't seem to age well--for me, at least.
>
> How about you, K?

I haven't read him in a while, but I have a few unread ones in my book case which I want to get round to. I thought the highly regarded The Voyage of the Space Beagle was very good, and wouldn't mind re-reading it when I find the time. Some of his short stories are really excellent, like "The Monster".

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