A master of terror and nightmarish visions, H.P. Lovecraft solidified his place at the top of the horror genre with this macabre supernatural tale.
When a geologist leads an expedition to the Antarctic plateau, his aim is to find rock and plant specimens from deep within the continent. The barren landscape offers no evidence of any life form - until they stumble upon the ruins of a lost civilization. Strange fossils of creatures unknown to man lead the team deeper, where they find carved stones dating back millions of years. But it is their discovery of the terrifying city of the Old Ones that leads them to an encounter with an untold menace.
Deliberately told and increasingly chilling, At the Mountains of Madness is a must-have for every fan of classic terror.
Public Domain (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Only 10 years after the publication of this book Europe had been nearly completely destroyed, the Soviet Union controlled most of the east, America controlled the rest, the atom had been split, and the technology needed to take men to the moon only needed perfecting. Computers, radar, jet engines, women in the workplace, a Jewish state inside Palestine, the neutering of any meaningful monarchies in England and Japan ... a total change in civilization. All within about 10 years.
There's a scene near the end of this book that stood out for me more than almost any other and that is when they first hear and them come upon those albino penguins. The image is at first somewhat comical, then a little sad, too. The scene stood out for me because those penguins seemed to make for a wonderful metaphor for our own existence - blind, pale, helpless, easily frightened chattel to be trampled over by far, far greater powers. The birds were totally indifferent to their surroundings, utterly incapable of comprehending their fate or that anything of any greater importance was going on around them, aside from the inconvenience of being disturbed.
I felt as if Lovecraft had somehow felt the pulse of the times and was able to create a vision of what we as a species were about to do to ourselves during the late 1930's and into the 1940's. That dread that is on every page of the book is palpable and captures what some, but not nearly enough people, must have felt when visiting Nazi Germany or Stalin's Russia before war broke out: a terrible helpless feeling of unease all around that nobody could escape from and a feeling that tragedy was about to happen again.
And the book's warning to all future adventures to leave well enough alone and to not explore to deep into regions that are best left unexplored, though a theme that crops up in science fiction very often, is more than just a trope here. Lovecraft seems to be intuiting the dangers of man meddling with things he can't control by foreshadowing nuclear war with those terrible visions beyond the mountains. Lovecraft is saying that the old way of life will forever change if man proceeds on its current course, that poking our noses where they don't belong will, though not unleash the darkest horrors of the ancient universe, somehow corrupt us from within.
Lovecraft is saying that science and reason can only take us so far before we get lost in a labyrinth of confusion, causing us to splinter as a society and species, forcing us from one extreme to the other, slowly eroding our own sense of self and art and culture, that all the greatest learning will eventually lead to an even greater forgetting; a forgetting of ourselves. Lovecraft seems quite content to stay put, to not pass that terrible boundary we charged right over in the 10 years after this book was written.
It's very pessimistic in its conclusion, however, I can't say I blame him either; he knew which way the wind was blowing. And I should be careful in reading too much into this book because after all he was trying to just write a damn entertaining page turner with some first-rate horror that Hollywood is still trying to copy to this day (either great films like Carpenter's 'The Thing' and Darabount's 'The Mist', or failures such as Ridley Scott's beautiful but deeply flawed 'Prometheus'). Yet the best stories, the ones that resonate with each generation are more than just fun reads, there does have to be something more to the pie than just a pretty pie crust.
Lovecraft writes very simply, clearly, and is a master at teasing out splinters of information at just the right time as to build the for boding. And even when there is really not much actually happening, he still manages to fascinate, such as the telling of the strangeness of the Old Ones and their life on early, ancient Earth. He doesn't bog us down with needless emotional scenes, rather, he uses Danforth as the emotional sounding-board to juxtapose with Dyer's cool, clinical, detachment. The rest is all supreme imagination and, honestly, horror so well written that I was genuinely scared and kept looking over my shoulder. It's really quite uncanny.
But there is much more here than a writer's wonderful imagination creating a mythos just for fun, Lovecraft has tapped into a vein that still resonates because he not only knows how to write a great story, but also because he knows what frightens us and because he intuited so much of what was just about to happen to the world in the coming years. Lovecraft is sort of a mile marker, a sign post, a line in the sand on which one side is all that came before and on the other is all that he warned humanity not to cross over less it destroy itself.
And so here were are looking back at a base camp we can never return to; only madness awaits us ahead.
I especially enjoyed Lovecrafts use of the English language, and Mr.Herrman's outstanding read.
Like many Poe stories.
The narrator. He was an eyewitness to something he hoped no humans would ever see again..while he was reporting events objectively, he was also trying to convey a dire warning.
There is a great deal to this little story, including great description, what I'd call sublime horror, and a rather large dose of social commentary on the time it was written.
Be advised, however, that this story was written in the early 1930's using the literary style of that period. It was a time of great social change, and the concept of science not being able to solve all problems was really being driven home. Fear that the world was becoming a darker place was growing and the future was looked upon with gathering dread. With older works of art, one should recognize that fears tend to change somewhat. Yet Lovecraft knew about the kind of fear that never ends, that corrodes the soul, that destroys lives.
Listeners who wish easy prose and fast action should probably pass on this.
Yet if you appreciate very well written, thoughtful, and suspenseful in the classical sense sort of prose, this little novella is for you.
This book is vintage, if lengthy, Lovecraft of course. But the narration is a true masterpiece of the craft. Edward Hermann's sense of diction, stress and the sheer literal meaning of the sentences enhances Lovecraft's heavy prose. Excellent.
I love to read
Edward Hermann does a wonderful job reading this pseudoscientific yarn of things that go bump in the Antarctic night, about an expedition so shudderingly terrifying to the cool scientists who undertake it, that it must never be repeated. Never! Somewhere in the abyss, deep in the shadows, half glimpsed and indistinctly understood, lives a horrible ancient secret that looks and sounds like a nightmarish... [I won't spoil it] ... derailed. Pustular, foul-smelling, impenetrably dark and evil. Heads rolls and ichor oozes. Fly from the station! Fly you fools, fly!
Probably all HP Lovecraft books.
This book is like listening to a drooning prof at collage giving a boring lecture.
It is told by one person in a monotone voice.
If you are looking for a good story pass this up. I could not care about any
of the characters, no development at all.
Why this is considered a great book in the horror genre is beyond me.
There isn't any thing even remotely exciting in this book.
I did not like this book. It is like reading a report. Clinical and boring. I did not check the publication date but something tells me this book is old because it reads like a b movie from the 70s. I feel like someone edited out all the interesting stuff. I need more details on what is happening. There is a story here but it's like the writer got board and glossed over stuff to get it done.
The story went noware. Also how did they read what was on the walls of the caves?
He reads the sotry fine and has a good voice.
a lot of the details on the exact locations they were at.
You need much more details on that happened to the people at the camp that were killed. there needed to be interaction and conversation between the characters not a report of those things. It's fine to start the book that way but then you need to tanssion to being there.
The story line was confusing and I could not follow it without hearing to most of the of the book that I did get thru.
Old and heard to follow
I'm not sure what that would be.
I don't know
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