A Cosmic Novel: 'The Web of Easter Island'

Clark Ashton Smith

This first novel by Donald Wandrei is embued throughout with the same unique qualities of cosmic imagination that distinguished The Red Brain, Earth Minus, Finality Unlimited, and numerous other short tales by him. The mystery of the megalithic remains of Stonehenge and Easter Island has been woven into a narrative that involves ulterior dimensions and endlessly repeated cycles of time and super-time.

The novel begins with the mysterious and disastrous events that follow the finding of an anomalous green image by a child in a long-disused and ill-reputed graveyard at Isling, England. This image is the Keeper of the Seal, mentioned in an Asian manuscript written in a tongue far older than Sanskrit:

Out of crypts deeper than the clouds are high shall the Keeper of the Seal issue forth a summons to the Titans. The Keeper of the Seal shall become even as the Titans and take his place on Crltul Thr.

Drawn by a newspaper account of the strange events at Isling, Carter Graham, a museum curator, investigates the unused graveyard, and becomes the temporary possessor of the Keeper of the Seal. Later, having fortunately lost the image, he descends with a companion into a vault of prodigious depth and extent beneath the graveyard, a vault designed as a sort of time-trap by the macrocosmic titans who had built it a million and five hundred years ago for their own sinister but scientific purposes. Graham escapes from the trap by a narrow margin of time, but his companion suffers the same doom that had overtaken numberless others, both men and the ancestors of men.

In the meantime, a fugitive wife-murderer has become the involuntary and unwitting owner of the green image. He meets on shipboard a strangely beautiful woman, with hair half white, half black, who, it seems, has made a surreptitious disposal of her husband. Their meeting affords a highly piquant episodeā€”a spice of mundanity amid elements of ultraspatial tenor and super-human vastness.

The tale unravels a web far-spun in time and place, and mounts to a stupendous climax on Easter Island, where Graham goes to confront the returning titans from the macrocosmos. Its premises, events and implications are among the most staggering in imaginative literature. Wholly original in style and concept, it is a worthy congener to such Lovecraft masterpieces as The Call of Cthulhu, The Colour out of Space, and The Shadow out of Time.

Printed from: www.eldritchdark.com/writings/nonfiction/3
Printed on: November 18, 2017