February 6, 2014 by

Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

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Categories: General

We read that book for work book club last month. I hated it. I have many feelings on why I hated it. I am now going to share them with you.

First, to give you a SMALL taste of what the story is about, just totally replete with spoilers, some researchers go to the Antarctic to bore holes in ice and get rock samples. They find an ancient race of beings that look like vegetables with 5 sided star heads and a city. A lot of them die. A lot more dogs die than humans. They find some ancient beings WORSE than the ones that killed all the dogs. Some of them survive to tell about it. And the whole point of the book is to make people NOT want to explore the Antarctic.

Okay, that’s basically it in a nutshell. It is, however, 103 pages (my copy was anyway) of just mind-numbing details about minute details on geology, biology, geometry, etc. All of it wrapped in vague pronouncements of doom and claims that things are so dreadful they can’t be described which are then described for multiple paragraphs/pages.

The end result is that the ancient city is the epitome of dread and horror and awful awful things, but when they find the beings worse than the ones that built the city, the city-builders are suddenly lauded as being just like men. “They are men!” the author cries. And suddenly, you’re like, wait what? Are they men or are they 6 foot wide, 8 foot long vegetables with star heads and flipper-wings? Make up your mind! Should we fear and revile them or pity them? It’s one or the other here, dude. And if we pity them for being JUST LIKE US, than their city can’t be so terrifying.

I discussed it a bit with Casey at work when we were both near the end via IM.

Casey: soon you shall discover the sordid specimens, whose very existence I hesitate to mention yet I must, so as to caution against the upcoming expedition

Me: Let not my vague pronouncements incite your curiosity for that is not my intent. The malignant, nauseating star shapes on all objects so curiously designed and appropriated throughout the dead city are the very opposite of our perceived beacon of light.

Casey: It would be most terrible, too ineffably distressing, if one were persuaded to explore the mountains of madness himself–no, I must go on, and describe in utmost detail the strange and insane groupings of dots which have pervaded my dreams, and those of poor Danforth, in recent months

Me: I think we could write this better.

Casey: yeah. poor Lake. poor Danforth. restless dogs. eerie melodic piping. we got this.

Me: 5 pointed cash monies.

Casey: that’s right, that’s right, that’s what gets the dogs barking

A lot of the time while reading it, I was internally thinking, “They went to the Antarctic and found a city! It’s like Stargate Atlantis! Only stupid!” And then with all the EXTREME fixation on five pointed objects and their nameless dread — so namelessly indescribably dreadful that he could spend 5 pages telling you about them — I thought maybe the Atlantis city was five points and would be an even better correlation, but it is 6. Which makes me feel simultaneously foolish, irritated, and happy that it doesn’t have to inspire nameless indescribable dread. It’s the cornucopia of emotions.

One Response to Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

  1. Kris

    “And suddenly, you’re like, wait what? Are they men or are they 6 foot wide, 8 foot long vegetables with star heads and flipper-wings?”

    Literally, lol.

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