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[personal profile] tentaclesock
Dear Lost Librarian,

First, let me apologize for posting this letter at the last minute. I've been busy.

Next, I thought this exchange was based on an excellent concept, so I couldn't resist signing up for it. No doubt you felt the same way. Without further adieu, here's the bulk of the letter:


  • Atmosphere.
  • Monsters.
  • Weirdness.
  • M/M, F/F, and nonbinary sex and/or romance.
  • Capturing the spirit of the source material.

  • Heterosexual romance and/or sex (usually).
  • Omegaverse.
  • Present tense.
  • Spare prose.
  • Revisionism.

    Hyperborean Cycle — Clark Ashton Smith
    Book of Eibon

    Someday I will be known as “that weirdo who requests Clark Ashton Smith’s Hyperborea stories in every fanfic exchange.” But the Hyperborean Cycle is so fascinating that it deserves endless exploration. In case you don’t know, Hyperborea is a legendary lost continent to the far north of ancient Greece, meaning that said continent analogues to either Greenland or Britain, depending on what poet you consult. Supposedly, Hyperborea was once a lush jungle until the Ice Age froze it over. Clark Ashton Smith, northern Californian contemporary, pen pal, and co-conspirator of H. P. Lovecraft as well as an extremely talented poet and prose writer in his own right, made the continent into a ceaselessly weird setting for heroic and antiheroic adventures that end bloodily. Hyperborea is overrun with thieves, murderers, half-human/half-monsters, bizarre gods like Tsathoggua the toad-sloth-bat and Atlach-Nacha the giant spider, ink made from blood, parchment made from woolly mammoths, and so much more.

    One of Hyperborea’s most salient features is its contingent of sorcerers, the most famous of whom is Eibon, worshiper of Tsathoggua. He (Eibon, not Tsathoggua) left behind a tome chronicling his adventures and beliefs. You could do a lot with this concept. Does Eibon know the truth of Tsathoggua’s history? (He and Tsathoggua had many chats, no doubt, but was Tsathoggua completely honest?) What does Eibon reveal about Tsathoggua’s preferences in sacrifice? Is Eibon familiar with the family trees of other gods on other planets?

    If you’re going to take this route, remember that unlike Cthulhu, Tsathoggua is supposed to be comprehensible: he’s physical, he can speak, and his worshipers descend to his underground lair and talk to him rather than summoning him.

    Cthulhu Mythos—H. P. Lovecraft

    The Necronomicon is probably Lovecraft’s most famous creation. No, it’s not a real book, and we shouldn’t want it to be. Multiple authors have written their own versions of Abdul Alhazred’s nefandous tome, with varying degrees of success. When you read the original stories, you’ll notice that the exact nature of the Necronomicon is unclear. Sometimes it appears to be a wizard’s grimoire; other times, it seems like an inquisitor’s manual; still other times, it could be a collection of ancient lore and extraterrestrial history.

    So, to my way of thinking, the perfect imitation Necronomicon would be part grimoire, part witch-hunter’s manual, part folklore collection, part dream diary, part earthy and astral travel guide, and part “male Gothic.” I don’t expect for all these elements to be represented in a single story (especially a 500-word one), but you can draw from which ever or however many of these aspects you like.

    Also note that Alhazred tends to “whisper,” as the stories put it, about the universe’s myriad wonders and terrors than describe them in detail. Furthermore, I’m well acquainted with some of the characters created in the post-Lovecraft expansion material—the Hounds of Tindalos, Ithaqua, Glaaki, the Tcho-Tcho People, the Dark Young, Shudde-M’ell and the Cthonians, etc.—but I would much prefer that you disregard those.

    The King in Yellow—Robert W. Chambers
    The King in Yellow

    The King in Yellow—the play—is a “work of poisonous beauty” so intense that to read it is to go mad or die. In Chambers’s most famous story collection, we see only glimpses of the play and never read the full text of it, and this is for the best. As has been repeatedly observed, no author could write a play that would measure up to the reader’s personal vision of it.

    That said, I would love to read a short section of The King in Yellow. You need not try to explain anything about the characters or settings in the play itself; piling new mysteries on top of old mysteries is more fun. In other words, I’m not looking for explication on who the King in Yellow, Queen Cassilda, Camilla, or the Stranger are, but I would much enjoy reading some interaction among the characters that amplified the enigma.

    Good Omens—Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
    The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

    The last fandom breaks the pattern. I don’t intend to go into much detail here; if you’ve read the novel, you know the general tenor of The Nice and Accurate Prophecies. As with just about everyone who loves Good Omens, I like the dry humor as well as the complete sincerity in the prophecy book itself. If you want, you don’t have to expend the word count on a single entry; I’d be interested in seeing multiple predictions.

    Have fun!


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