Friday, July 24, 2015

"The Colour Out of Space" (a book review post)

[Note: I am working my way through a complete collection of H. P. Lovecraft's works. Although I will give my thoughts about Lovecraft in a more general sense when I've finished the collection, I think it's worthwhile to look at the individual stories (or at least some of them) as I'm going through.]

"The Colour Out of Space" is what I'm coming to recognize as classic Lovecraft. A regular guy comes across something strange and starts investigating it and discovers some -- look, I'm just going to put it in the vernacular -- "weird ass shit." Weird ass shit that freaks the protagonist out and affects him for the rest of his life, the length of which doesn't always extend beyond the length of the story. So it is with "The Colour Out of Space."

"The Colour Out of Space" opens with a land surveyor out doing what land surveyors do because a reservoir is being built. Before going, he's warned about "the blasted heath" and how evil it is, but he put it down to local superstition. At one time, there had been a road going through it, but so evil did they believe it that that road had fallen into disuse, and a new one had been built that circled far around the evil place. Even with that, the surveyor thought nothing of the place... until he came upon it, at which point a great reluctance came upon him to enter it. But he had no choice and, so, traveled through the place on his business.

So fearsome was the place, and because he had not, yet, finished his surveying work, he asked the locals about it, but all he could get was half stories about strange days. Until he finally finds the person who can tell him the horrible story.

Because the story is being told about something that happened decades before, we never need to worry about the protagonist; however, that doesn't make the story any less horrifying. All we really know is that the locals are greatly looking forward to the reservoir and that "the blasted heath" will finally be consumed by the deep waters. We also know that after hearing the story, our protagonist vows that he will never drink of the waters that will come from that place.

Beyond that, you'll have to read for yourself.

15 comments:

  1. The story was much better than the movie, The Curse, which was 'loosely based' on the short story.

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    1. Alex C: I've never seen that. I'm thinking I can probably give it a miss.

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  2. Hmmm. I wonder why he chose to do the story as one person telling it to another? I think that might fall into what I complained about with "It" and "Last Summer Of The Camperdowns" -- doesn't it mute the thrill a bit to know the person made it through?

    Also, I REALLY wanted to be the first commenter. But the collection of android ninjas collectively referred to as "Alex J, Cavanaugh" is hard to compete with.

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    1. Briane: It seems that a lot of his stories are like that, but I'll be talking about that later.

      It's hard to beat "Alex."

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  3. I'm sure Lovecraft would put "weird-ass shit" another way that was ten times fancier and fifty times longer.

    I really liked that story. It's really the quintessential Lovecraft because you don't know where it's from (besides space), what it is, why it has that effect on people, and if it will happen again. The horror is in not knowing.

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    1. Jeanne: Yeah, just unexplained freaky stuff.

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  4. Sounds like a good read indeed. Greetings!

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  5. I've never read any Lovecraft, but your recent reviews are convincing me that I should. Weird is right up my line of interest.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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    1. Lee: Most of his stuff is fairly short, so it's not much of a risk.

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  6. Is this more a novella length? It sounds intriguing--something for my boys.
    V :)

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  7. Veronica: No, it's shorter than that. Most of these are short story to novelette length.

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