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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."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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".

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 02:18PM
I'll try to find some stories, Monster especially.

--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: 20 February, 2021 02:39PM
Link: "The Monster" (1948). Regarded as perhaps van Vogt's best short story.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 03:17PM
Thanks!!!!

I'll read it right now!!! Nothing better to do...

--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: 20 February, 2021 05:46PM
Knygatin, I thoroughly enjoyed "The Monster". I wanted to share with you a story with a similar theme (invaders are thwarted by humans in a comic fashion) but haven't found it yet.

However, I found a list of SF stories, that, when sorted by publishing date, the 1950s read like a compendium of the stuff I had liked.

[en.wikipedia.org]

I read lots of this stuff in my formative youth, and now, reflecting back, those readings, and R. Crumb in the 60s, could explain a lot...

Back to Monster....

It had the "feel" of a sub-genre in which mankind was capable against challenges from superior forces, sometimes in a sort of wise-guy, junior high school way. This seemed to be a feature of post war US, and it was before it evaporated into the angst overwhelmed SF in the 60s and beyond.

--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: 21 February, 2021 06:51AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin, I thoroughly enjoyed "The Monster". I
> wanted to share with you a story with a similar
> theme (invaders are thwarted by humans in a comic
> fashion) but haven't found it yet.
>
> It had the "feel" of a sub-genre in which mankind
> was capable against challenges from superior
> forces, sometimes in a sort of wise-guy, junior
> high school way. This seemed to be a feature of
> post war US, and it was before it evaporated into
> the angst overwhelmed SF in the 60s and beyond.

Hah, glad you enjoyed "The Monster". It is a neat story, with very unexpected turn (for me at least!).

I agree, and that is why I prefer science fiction from that era. Arthur C. Clarke's first published story, "Rescue Party" (1946), is somewhat similar in style to "The Monster". It concerns a conglomeration of aliens from different worlds, who set out together on a rescue mission, their comic interactions and individual anatomical struggles to cope with the new topography.

A. E. van Vogt's "Dormant" (1948) is not bad either. Not as good as "The Monster", but conceptually interesting and powerful. About a giant entity that seems to be part of the landscape, but suddenly, after millions of years, starts moving.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 21 February, 2021 11:27AM
I *really* like this 50s stuff! Not the space opera crap, but the mindbenders, like "Nightfall", "The Star", etc.

CAS is really nothing like this: he is telling us morality tales with unique observations and ironic twists, making them into something more than they would be otherwise.

In honesty, it comes to me that this early SF, plus lack of a Christian up-bringing, may have formed me more than anything else.

Gosh...

E.g., there was this Heinlein novel where the concept of a social institution of trained, principled persons, known as something like "Fair Witnesses", functioned in civil proceedings something like a notary does for signatures, but they could lawfully, bindingly witness, and attest to, almost anything.

This being the idealistic 50/early 60s, no possibility of corruption (this would come in the 70s... ;^) ) was ever introduced in the story.

I can recall a specific instance where the main character asked a friend who was a Fair Witness by profession what color the house was as they drove by, conversationally, and she said something like:

"Well, this side is white."

Hah, hah! That blew me away!

Somehow I took this to heart (this worked to my advantage for a period when I was tech writing--extremely limited and precise procedural instructions), and like a thunderclap last week I realized for the first time that one of the few areas of friction I have with my wife of 35 years is that I often get extremely testy when answering some of the questions she asks me.

I realized that the questions that evoke this require me to speculate well beyond what I can be certain of--to me, I perceive that she wants a solution, not a speculation--and I cannot give her one with ironclad assurance, in good faith.

So I turn savage, to discourage further questioning.

She, of course, never thinks that it's to be ironclad, but *I* sure do, so...

--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: 21 February, 2021 02:11PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I *really* like this 50s stuff! Not the space
> opera crap, but the mindbenders, like "Nightfall",
> "The Star", etc.

The City and the Stars (1956), a self-running digitalized society million of years into the future, having humans without nails and teeth. Wow. Beauty and the inapprehensibly disturbing wedded together.

Then there is the even earlier stuff. Campbell's "Twilight" (1934). WOW ...! I am flabbergasted, and bow down in reverence.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 22 February, 2021 04:47AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Somehow I took this to heart (this worked to my
> advantage for a period when I was tech
> writing--extremely limited and precise procedural
> instructions), and like a thunderclap last week I
> realized for the first time that one of the few
> areas of friction I have with my wife of 35 years
> is that I often get extremely testy when answering
> some of the questions she asks me.
>
> I realized that the questions that evoke this
> require me to speculate well beyond what I can be
> certain of--to me, I perceive that she wants a
> solution, not a speculation--and I cannot give her
> one with ironclad assurance, in good faith.
>

Not sure what your exact struggle is here, but I have noticed that you don't seem to like set directions in any manner, definite assured statements, or things that are precise, not impressed by invented tools or perfection in robotic engineering. Perhaps working as a data programmer has allowed flexible solutions to solve a problem. A kind of flowing state. A liberal stance, anything goes, nothing is right and nothing is wrong, like California is famous for; I believe this can be of great benefit to brainstorming creativity, but can also be misused in the wrong hands to deceptively enforce society a thread down decadent paths. I agree that nothing is easily ironclad or set in stone, but sometimes one needs to believe fully in a certain vision, at least temporarily, to get it realized, to get things done rather than drifting aimlessly. On the other hand you do appear to be politically opinionated, but perhaps, from one's individual standpoint that still feels like being open-minded.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 February, 2021 12:09PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Somehow I took this to heart (this worked to my
> > advantage for a period when I was tech
> > writing--extremely limited and precise
> procedural
> > instructions), and like a thunderclap last week
> I
> > realized for the first time that one of the few
> > areas of friction I have with my wife of 35
> years
> > is that I often get extremely testy when
> answering
> > some of the questions she asks me.
> >
> > I realized that the questions that evoke this
> > require me to speculate well beyond what I can
> be
> > certain of--to me, I perceive that she wants a
> > solution, not a speculation--and I cannot give
> her
> > one with ironclad assurance, in good faith.
> >
>
> Not sure what your exact struggle is here, but I
> have noticed that you don't seem to like set
> directions in any manner, definite assured
> statements, or things that are precise, not
> impressed by invented tools or perfection in
> robotic engineering.

The answer is simple, K!

I'm a foul materialist. My wife has even told me that so far as she can see, I lack the gene for spirituality.

Please don't spread it around, though...

> Perhaps working as a data
> programmer has allowed flexible solutions to solve
> a problem. A kind of flowing state. A liberal
> stance, anything goes, nothing is right and
> nothing is wrong, like California is famous for;

I think you're about half there.

E.g., nothing is *absolutely* right or wrong, however one must recognize that each individual has his/her own definitions/boundaries of right/wrong, and individuals tend to clump with others who share the same values. Over time, these form cultures, and eventually something like nations. Within these groups, moral principles are de facto absolute.

So you're just fine living in such a culture, if it largely shares your values. However, outside of that, it becomes a crapshoot.

> I
> believe this can be of great benefit to
> brainstorming creativity, but can also be misused
> in the wrong hands to deceptively enforce society
> a thread down decadent paths.

Why necessarily decadent? It seems that the path could equally be progressive, or any flavor mix in between.

> I agree that nothing
> is easily ironclad or set in stone, but sometimes
> one needs to believe fully in a certain vision, at
> least temporarily, to get it realized, to get
> things done rather than drifting aimlessly.

I agree with this part, K.

I used to do this all the time--in fact, I was aware of it, but because it often preceded personal advancement of some kind that I valued, I temporarily "hypnotized" myself into functionally believing it, but only while actively engaged in it.

E.g., I could work 80 hour weeks for several months because I had rationally assessed that at the end of that time I'd be materially and strategically better off. So to actually motivate myself while working those hours, I convinced myself that I *liked* the specific activity.

But I knew beforehand and afterward that it was a sort of self-induced state to be used temporarily to gain a specific end. A great example was to request 4 10-hour days from my regular employer so that I could take an individual contract with another company that lasted about 8 months. I'd sometimes work 7 days a week, but more often 6 or 6.5.

I can tell you with honesty that I've never been paid a dime for doing something that I would say that I actually *liked*, in the sense that I'd do it without pay.

No one pays for you to sit on the beach, drinking beer and body-surfing all day...

> On the
> other hand you do appear to be politically
> opinionated, but perhaps, from one's individual
> standpoint that still feels like being
> open-minded.

Probably more like ideologically opinionated. Politics is something more like the circuses part of "bread and circuses".

E.g., I've not yet figured out a way that collective socialism could ever work for an extended period except at a scope no greater than a tribe, or perhaps in a single ethnicity nation. Too much inherent mistrust among diverse groups.

I mean, I've worked past "socialism doesn't work", because it *does* work: that's what happens in a nuclear family, and by extension, a clan and a tribe, but it diffuses along the way.

--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: 22 February, 2021 01:14PM
Thank you, Sawfish. That was interesting thoughts worth sharing.

Re: Topographic horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 February, 2021 01:35PM
I view the CAS group as like being in a private social club and I enjoy the company here. Therefore, it's nice to get to know each other somewhat.

--Sawfish

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



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 22 Feb 21 | 01:47PM by Sawfish.



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