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THE DEEP ONES: "The Goddess of Death" by William Hope Hodgson

The Weird Tradition

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2elenchus
Jan 11, 11:16am Top

My usual online read.

4KentonSem
Jan 14, 12:56pm Top

5KentonSem
Edited: Jan 16, 8:57am Top

Well, WHH certainly hits the ground running - and there is a lot of running here - in his first published tale. I enjoyed the pure
breathless adventure of it, but of course it comes nowhere near the classic work that the author would eventually produce. The Scooby Doo reveal was even tolerable thanks to the macabre image of the dead Thugee seeming to peer up as he floats under the water in the underground tunnel. If anything, I can thank this story for putting me in the mood to re-read The Song of Kali by Dan Simmons.

6elenchus
Edited: Jan 16, 11:27am Top

I wasn't aware before reading that this was Hodgson's first published tale, and was disappointed upon finishing. I suspected there was something to explain the hokiness of it, however, and visiting a few of the items under MISCELLANY put me right.

The illustrations from the online edition were charming and matched the story, including that last scene with the floating image of the submerged assailant.

>5 KentonSem: putting me in the mood to re-read The Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
I have a Dan Simmons novel on my shelf, and have been ambivalent about starting it. What do you think of his writing generally? (The novel I have waiting is Ilium.)

7paradoxosalpha
Jan 16, 11:33am Top

Scooby-Doo indeed. For a horrific tale of supernaturalist debunking, I think it fell well short of Hodgson's own later Terror of the Water Tank.

I lost all respect for the character Will when he took fright and cried, “Oh, mercy upon us!”

8AndreasJ
Jan 16, 11:34am Top

Our narrator would make a good Call of Cthulhu RPG character: he jumps at the opportunity to investigate an apparently supernatural mystery, and if he has any family, employment, or other responsibilities to worry about, he feels no need to mention them.

WHH sometimes go for Scooby Doo reveals and sometimes for true weirdness - we've previously read "The Hog", which involved a malevolent astral entity - and I think it's rather charming not to know going what kind of story it's going to be in that respect.

9paradoxosalpha
Jan 16, 11:44am Top

>8 AndreasJ: Our narrator would make a good Call of Cthulhu RPG character

I thought just the same thing when they ran their preliminary weapons check.

10frahealee
Edited: Jan 16, 6:47pm Top

I plan to tackle this story on the weekend, alongside Borderland and Ghost Pirates. Any advice on which order might offer the least amount of shrapnel?! Do I follow chronology, or story length, or my fallback alphabetical order? =) I have read nothing yet from this author.

11RandyStafford
Jan 16, 2:00pm Top

This being his first story would explain the bare bones nature of the story -- little attempt to build atmosphere and brief descriptions.

I have not read a lot of Hodgson, but he strikes me as having characters that are more physically vigorous and active than most weird fiction writers. (Two Gun Bob being an obvious exception.) Is that true? If so, this is kind of a combination of the rationalized Ann Radcliffe style of gothic with later pulp action.

I was amused by the second sentence that seemed to be alluding to one of the many future war scares prevalent in late 19th and early 20th century England.

>5 KentonSem: Speaking of Simmons, I should put his "Lovedeath" on the advance planning thread.

12KentonSem
Edited: Jan 16, 3:19pm Top

>6 elenchus:

Simmons is top-notch and he jumps from genre to genre with masterful ease. Horror, SF, fantasy, historical, crime, action.... I'd put the following titles at the top of the list if you aren't that familiar with his work: Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, The Song of Kali, The Terror, Lovedeath, Summer of Night.

Of those, I'd say The Terror is his finest. The two Hyperion books are actually part of a 4-novel cycle, but those first two are perfect SF. I liked the Ilium books, just not as much.

>10 frahealee:

The House on the Borderland is WHH's most important work, and rightly so, but I had more fun reading The Ghost Pirates!

>11 RandyStafford:

Speaking of Simmons, I should put his "Lovedeath" on the advance planning thread.

Yes! And also his first published short story, "The River Styx Runs Upstream", which won a Twilight Zone Magazine short story contest in 1982.

13AndreasJ
Jan 16, 3:13pm Top

>11 RandyStafford:

WHH's protagonists are indeed often physically vigorous; the most notable example is perhaps the protagonist of The Night Land, who is apparently literally the strongest man in the world, and possessed of outright superhuman endurance.

He was pretty vigorous himself, being big on exercise - the "School of Physical Culture" mentioned on the first misc. link was a gym with pretensions of treating indigestion.

(I guess you could say his robust health was self-defeating: unlike Lovecraft, he was accepted for service in WWI and killed in battle.)

14RandyStafford
Jan 16, 4:23pm Top

>13 AndreasJ: Thanks for that. I knew Hodgson the man was big on "physical culture" and about his famous meeting with Houdini, but I wasn't sure how much that athleticism showed up in his fiction.

15pgmcc
Jan 16, 5:20pm Top

>12 KentonSem:
My first Simmons was Hyperion which was quickly followed by The Fall of Hyperion. I thought they read well as one very big book. I found the tjird and fourth books to be superfluous and reakibg of “sequel to make more money” sundrome. A bit like K-Pax II & III, I felt they took away from the earlier work.

I have not read a Sommins I did not like and I still gave several to get to yet.

16housefulofpaper
Jan 16, 8:35pm Top

For a long time the only work of Hodgson's I'd read was the Carnacki stories. And that was only because I'd been attracted to a UK paperback reprint with a long afterword by Iain Sinclair (I'd just read White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings). One thing that struck me on reading the stories, and I think it's something that I've mentioned here already, is that although those stories are a mixture of genuine supernatural and Radcliffeian "explained supernatural" tales, the terror that Carnacki feels during his investigations is the same, and powerfully put across by Hodgson.

He's trying to do the same thing here, but although he can move the story along efficiently enough he doesn't yet have the skill to communicate it to the reader.

Whilst the explanation is very "Scooby-Doo", apart from all the deaths, a contemporary comparison is more illuminating, I think. Let me quote from Darryl Jones' recent book, Sleeping With the Lights On: the unsettling story of horror. His introduction has section headed "Popular Anxieties", within which he suggests that "One of the characteristics of popular culture is its speed and suppleness"...{providing} "an instant response to events, developments, moods, crises." And then goes on to look at the year 1897, Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, "the high water mark of the British Empire." And yet "beneath the public assertiveness of British Imperialism, the anxieties were showing. Colonial horror, in which British relations with its imperial Others became Gothicized in narratives of magic, monstrosity, and revenge, became enormously popular in the last decades of the nineteenth century". Jones then cites Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast", (which we discussed in 2015) and says that "'the vengeful power of the Gods and Devils of Asia', or of Africa, a discourse of uneasy Orientalism, pervades much British imperial fiction."

So yes, Hodgson is jumping on a bandwagon here, and contributing to this moment of imperial unease.

I can't overlook the fact that Hodgson is undeniably clumsy in setting up the story and loses points for lack of verisimilitude. Where are the police while this nightly massacre is going on, for example? And if "Herton" is the protagonist's surname then no-one should be calling him "Sir Herton".

>11 RandyStafford: I think the fear at the time was of a German, not a French, invasion. This is just as likely to be a callback to the Napoleonic Wars, in my opinion.

17alaudacorax
Jan 17, 8:48am Top

>7 paradoxosalpha: - ... and cried, “Oh, mercy upon us!”

To me, this seemed oddly 'old lady-ish'. I'm wondering if that's another example of the lack of sureness of touch Hodgson displays frequently in this story, or to do with how the subleties and nuances of the language have changed since his day, or if he was deliberately undermining Will's character to bolster his narrator's manliness.

18alaudacorax
Edited: Jan 17, 8:56am Top

The British in India were suppressing the Thugs in the first four decades of the 19thC. I suspect the narrator's reference to the French, together with the mention of cloaks, was intended to push the story back to those times. Perhaps also the pistols--he seems to be hinting at the old, single-shot jobs.

19frahealee
Jan 17, 9:48am Top

>18 alaudacorax: I first learned of the Thugs in a Pierce Brosnan film from early in his career, The Deceivers (1988), but I have never read its source novel. Fascinating topic, albeit frightening.

20KentonSem
Edited: Jan 17, 11:52am Top

The Thugee cult figured in a lot of Weird Menace pulp stories in the early part of the 20th century. A couple of notable entries in Thugee cinema are GUNGA DIN (1939) and STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY (1959), both of which remain pretty entertaining adventures. STRANGLERS is actually an early Hammer Film directed by Terence Fisher.

21housefulofpaper
Jan 17, 3:13pm Top

>18 alaudacorax:
Makes sense. It explains why there was no ongoing police investigation of the murders.

22alaudacorax
Edited: Jan 17, 4:18pm Top

I thought this was - not bad exactly, but unimpressive, and I wondered whether I wanted to explore any further. >5 KentonSem: and >16 housefulofpaper: persuaded me to have one more go, though, so I looked to see what Project Gutenberg had and chose the first of the 'Carnacki' stories, 'The Gateway of The Monster. Much better story with real tension and scares, so I'll persevere with him and forgive this one as a first attempt.

23frahealee
Edited: Jan 20, 4:58am Top

Well, full submersion is definitely working for me … this guy is terrific! =D Just blew through all three stories, first The Ghost Pirates, then The House, then the Goddess. I must say, when I got to this portion in chapter two of The House on the Borderland, my eyes widened;

“I must have been here some ten years, before I saw sufficient to warrant any belief in the stories, current in the neighbourhood, about this house. It is true that I had, on at least a dozen occasions, seen, vaguely, things that puzzled me, and, perhaps, had felt more than I had seen. Then, as the years passed, bringing age upon me, I became often aware of something unseen, yet unmistakably present, in the empty rooms and corridors. Still, it was, as I have said, many years before I saw any real manifestations of the, so called, supernatural.

“It was not Hallowe’en. If I were telling a story for amusement’s sake, I should probably place it on that night of nights; but this is a true record of my own experiences, and I would not put pen to paper to amuse any one. No. It was after midnight on the morning of the twenty-first day of January. I was sitting reading, as is often my custom, in my study. Pepper lay, sleeping, near my chair.

“Without warning, the flames of the two candles went low, and then shone with a ghastly, green effulgence. I looked up, quickly, and, as I did so, I saw the lights sink into a dull, ruddy tint; so that the room glowed with a strange, heavy, crimson twilight that gave the shadows, behind the chairs and tables, a double depth of blackness; and wherever the light struck, it was as though luminous blood had been splashed over the room."

+++++

Last night, I emailed my sons this link about an upcoming phenomenon, the SUPER BLOOD WOLF MOON that occurs tonight, January 20th, which stretches from 22:30h for three hours, so will be closing AFTER MIDNIGHT ON THE MORNING OF THE TWENTY-FIRST DAY OF JANUARY ... timing is everything! =D Bring it on. It's never the what, it's the when!
https://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/here-s-how-to-watch-the-total-lunar-eclipse-and-...

I enjoyed these three so much, I plan to read two more before the week is out, since they came with that Kobo Hallowe'en book of 50 stories for a buck I picked up last year; Carnacki the Ghost Finder, The Night Land. Ireland as a setting sure lends itself nicely to the suspension of disbelief. As does the vast ocean landscape.

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