Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Waters are Dark and Full of Horrors! (also, I use also a lot): The Oceans Edition

(The idea for this post came as kayaking season got started this year and everything I read took place on the water, then noticed that there is some freaky stuff in novels, games, and movies that take place on water.  I wrote two posts, then decided that rather than fill what is supposed to be a western blog with nautical horror I would just start a Tumblr of short notes on books and movie... hmm, sounds like how I started this one.  I'm posting the original two this week, and if you like what you see you can read more as it develops over at The Seas are Dark and Full of Horror.)

Take a walk along a New England sea shore.  Go ahead, I dare you, especially if you can do it in a tidal marsh.  You’ll find legs of strange creatures, bits of shell, half-devoured horseshoe crabs, and tentacles off of… something… from the deep.  And that’s just the stuff that washes up, much less what actually survives out there.  No wonder H.P. Lovecraft feared the horrid fishy stench of the unknown depths and turned it into Cthulhu mythology.  (Actually I think it was being raised by a hated pair of spinster aunts and being terrified of their lady parts, plus a mix of standard early 20th century anti-immigrant xenophobia as well).  None the less, the seas are crazy, and home to terrible sea stories to rival last week’s river tales.

Sunless Sea (Failbetter Games): London has fallen into Hell, which is actually a sunless ocean of eldritch abominations and infernal bureaucracy (and I suspect the inside of the enormous skull of some ancient god, a la No-Space from Guardians of the Galaxy).  Kind of like the Sid Meirs Pirates! games, but resource management includes managing terror and the possibility of eating your crew.  Also, the Mongols got there first and are pissed that London fell on top of Xanadu.  The kind of video game that you would get if you put Verne, Coleridge, Conrad, Lovecraft, and Melville in a room full of programmers and absinthe. 

The Terror (Dan Simmons):  What happened to Arctic exploration vessels that go missing in the long dark nights?  Brilliant writing, that’s what.  Well researched, totally believable, even with the HORRIBLE UNKNOWABLE THING out on the ice (and maybe there is a HORRIBLE UNKNOWABLE THING out on the ice, how do I know? Have YOU ever been on the Arctic ice shelf?  Didn’t think so).  Also, why the fuck would you name an Arctic exploration vessel “The Terror”?  That’s just asking for trouble.  Okay, it's named after a mountain in Antarctica, but it's still a terrible idea.

Black Tide Rising series (John Ringo):  After the Max Brook’s Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars books (very different from the movie), The Walking Dead comics and series, and a million “vet from the Sandbox pops caps into Z’s” novels, how do you make zombie apocalypse tales fresh? By shipping the whole plot out into the ocean!  In Ringo’s four book series the surest way to survive is to take to the sea, and even there people with the zombie virus can turn.  Most survivors are found in groups, locked in sealed compartment after weeks or months at sea.  Also, most of the women who come out of the compartments are pregnant.  What happens in the compartment stays in the compartment.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne):  I haven’t read it since I read the children’s version as a wee youth, but Mrs. Slap just read it and says it’s awesome.  Also, always trust Mrs. Slap.

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