Monday, July 18, 2016
"From Beyond" (a book review post)
"From Beyond" has a slight twist on most of the stories I've read by Lovecraft so far while still having the same basic foundation. It's a story about a man, Crawford Tillinghast, who has developed a way to see the hidden worlds all around us. In this, it is very similar to most other Lovecraft stories but, in execution, it is most like "The Terrible Old Man."
This is not a new thought for me, but it's one I don't believe I've stated before in any of the Lovecraft reviews I've done:
Lovecraft seems to owe a lot to Robert Louis Stevenson and his Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Not that I know that Lovecraft read Stevenson, but I find it difficult to imagine that he would not have considering the similarities between the two authors in their physical conditions (both sickly) and the similarity in style of most of Lovecraft's short stories to Jekyll & Hyde. That style being an unnamed narrator telling a story about a friend suffering the consequences of, usually, some sort of insatiable curiosity. This one, "From Beyond," is closer to Jekyll & Hyde than most.
Back in the early 90s, there was a comic book, Dark Dominion, which dealt with the idea that there was a world of demons that overlapped our own. One man, Michael Alexander, was able to see these demons as they coexisted with us. It was a darkly interesting idea that ended way too soon. I don't know if Jim Shooter, the creator of the series, read Lovecraft, but you can see those same ideas in "From Beyond." I don't know of anyone earlier than Lovecraft writing about these kinds of things in this kind of way. This is not the only of Lovecraft's stories dealing with this idea, but this is the most direct, at least so far. It's short enough that I'm willing to say you should just read it.