A book inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, but critical of his politics and racism. Erol Otus, Dan Zettwoch, and Timothy Hutchings illustrate.
--Sandy Petersen, game designer, Doom, Quake, and The Call of Cthulhu RPG
“…an ambitious, clever, complex and yet still completely accessible project that plays with some of Lovecraft's more obscure literary concerns… I can't wait for my copy!”
--George Strayton, screenwriter and producer, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Transformers 2
"...promises to be a worthy and exciting addition to this canon."
--Tavis Allison, The Mule Abides
The Shadow out of Providence comprises a play and two short stories. Unlike most texts that draw inspiration from the work of the Providence fantasist Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937), these do not strive to horrify with revelations the bleakness of an unsympathetic universe, or monstrosities lurking beneath everyday life. The book is thus not "Lovecraftian," in the usual sense.
Instead, it is “Lovecraftical” (to coin a term). It treats Lovecraft the writer, the thinker, and the cultural phenomenon, rather than the sliver of his work on which most writers fixate (one that he sometimes dismissed as “Yog-Sothothery”).
HOW DOES THIS “KICKSTARTER” WORK?
Kickstarter lets you pledge money to our project in exchange
for the reward packages listed on the right-hand side of this page. If and only if we reach
100% of our fundraising goal during the 30-day campaign, then Kickstarter will
charge your credit card in the amount you pledged. We will then finish putting together
our book and send the backers their rewards.
If we fail to reach our fundraising goal, nobody charges you a penny.
WHY ANOTHER LOVECRAFT PARODY?
This is not a conventional parody, but a metafictional re-working of Lovecraftical material, especially Lovecraft’s intellectual concerns—such as the power of print and visual media, the unknown as a source of fear, and ignorance (willful and otherwise) as a defense against the new.
Framing stories present the three texts in slightly different, counterhistorical worlds. Three separate fictional universes challenge the reader: if the oldest and strongest source of fear is the unknown, what, in each setting, counts as unknown?
WHAT ABOUT MONSTERS?
Don’t worry: monsters lurk in The Shadow out of Providence. Slime, membranous wings, the living dead, and yes, even tentacles all make appearances.
A staple of Lovecraft’s stories is the protagonist’s
encounter with media—not just the unaussprechliche
tomes of wizards, but newspapers, letters, telegrams, diaries, glyphs, marginal
glosses, radio transcripts, graffiti, phonograph records, drawings, woodcuts, paintings,
and photographs. We believe that the best way to encounter a book is as a
physical object, one that can collect dust, mug-rings, and nameless odors, to
be found in some archive or attic a hundred years from now.
We expect the book to run just under 100 pages, including illustrations. We will also publish the book in digital form for the post-Gutenbergers.
WHERE DOES THE BACKERS’ MONEY GO?
It pays for the editing, design, and initial printing of the book, as well as the rewards packages listed to the right.
WHEN DO I GET MY REWARD?
December. Shipping is included in the base amounts of the reward packages; international buyers must add $10 US for shipping.
If we reach our funding goal of $7,500, backers will get whatever rewards they chose. However, we have added some "bonus rewards," in the joyous event that we exceed our fundraising goals. Nothing exceeds like excess!
$8,500: If the campaign raises $8,500, the first-edition hardcover will have marbled endpapers, and every backer’s name will appear in all versions of the book on the roster of the 8th US-Soviet Antarctic Friendship Expedition (which, sadly, had no survivors). This list will be separate from the acknowledgments, and part of “The Vostok Dossier.”
$9,500: if the campaign raises $9,500, we will make a poster featuring original art by one or more of the artists, and every backer will receive a PDF of the poster. An extra $20 will then get a backer one silkscreened, hand-numbered print of the poster.
$10,500: if the campaign raises $10,500, the first printing of the hardcover will have a dust jacket and foil printing on the cloth spine, and all versions of the book will include a 1-page Black Guardian comic by Dan Zettwoch and Ezra Claverie. (And an extra $50 will then get any backer a numbered, signed print of the comic.)
These bonus rewards are cumulative. One lavish pledge could significantly change the production values of the project and the rewards. One generous backer could earn not just the gratitude of the creators, but the gratitude of every other backer!
Timothy Hutchings lives and works in New York City. He has shown artworks around the world, including solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Wien, the Long Beach Museum, and the Sydney College of Art. He manages the Play Generated Map and Document Archive, www.plagmada.org, and recently launched a publishing imprint called The Hutchingsonian Presents, which explores the intersection of game play, game history, and art. Its first book, Everything is Dolphins, appeared in the spring of 2012.
Erol Otus is an American artist and game designer, known internationally for his work in fantasy role-playing games, most notably for the early Dungeons & Dragons franchise. Otus has also provided game design, artwork, music, and voice acting for computer games such as Star Control II and, most recently, Skylanders. His work has shown at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art and the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art. Currently he is at work on a sequel to Skylanders, a sequel to the RPG module Island Town, and “Beyond the Far Islands.”
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Dan Zettwoch is a cartoonist, illustrator, and printmaker in St. Louis. His stories have appeared in Kramers Ergot; the Drawn & Quarterly Showcase; Comic Art; Beasts; An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories; and The Best American Comics. His paintings and prints have shown at the Des Lee Gallery, Mad Art, Giant Robot, and the St. Louis Artists’ Guild. His first graphic novel, Birdseye Bristoe, is available now from Drawn & Quarterly.
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Sarah Richardson quit a corporate job for a Communication Design degree in Illustration from Washington University in St. Louis, and now works as a freelance graphic artist in Chicago. Her work includes web design, graphic design, book arts, printmaking, and illustration. Her interests include drawing live performances at bars and clubs and devouring as many books about folklore as she can find. Find more of her work at www.scorcha.net/.
Ezra Claverie is completing a PhD in English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His fiction has appeared in Crimson, Snowy Egret, and the Bogus Dead anthology; his short story “Burcham is ‘Unrelenting’!” received honorable mention in the 2001 Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS!
Surely you aren’t the only person you know who would want a project like this to see the light of day. Help us spread the word!
Concerning the Late Eadweard Thurston and his Family.”
Act 1, Scene 3
[Enter THURSTON, ELWOOD and POLICEMEN.]
THURSTON. Ridiculous. A man who looked like my father.
SECOND POLICEMAN. I never said it was a man, exactly.
THURSTON. Nonsense, dragging a citizen out on a night like this--I shall see both of you lose your positions. That taxes pay for such abuse…
ELWOOD. [To FIRST POLICEMAN.] You said he--it--didn’t stop, even when shot?
FIRST POLICEMAN. [To ELWOOD.] No, sir.
SECOND POLICEMAN. [To ELWOOD.] The lips and nose was all eaten away, like--
ELWOOD. [in dawning horror] Eaten?
SECOND POLICEMAN. Yeah, like he had the syph.
ELWOOD. [still horrified] Or rats.
FIRST POLICEMAN. It looked like it was trying to say something.
[Enter CORPSE, led by NIGHT-GAUNTS.]
ELWOOD. What a stench! [Sees CORPSE.] Good Christ!
SECOND POLICEMAN. There it is!
CORPSE. [Holds up "GLUB" sign, defiant.]
THURSTON. Impossible! But--that sweep of brow, that patrician length of jaw--damn my eyes if it is not the old man himself!
[To CORPSE, extravagantly.]
O sire! Thy Xanthochroíd cheek Decay’s
Claw hath caress’d. Would that she’d blinded me!
Sweet Robigus, o wherefore sleeps’t thy might? [Addressing the heavens.]
Formaldehyde! Maid derelict, behold!
The nobl’est fane of reason, ruin’d lies--
[The CORPSE seizes THURSTON’s arm as the others shrink back. Shows him “GLUB” sign, then beckons.]
SECOND POLICEMAN. [In disgust.] It’s trying to talk!
FIRST POLICEMAN. [Turns away to stifle nausea.]
THURSTON. He’s trying to talk. [To CORPSE.] I’ll go where you bid.
SECOND POLICEMAN. Sir, we couldn’t let you do that.
THURSTON. Audacity before caution, lads. [POLICEMEN grab THURSTON.] I say!
FIRST POLICEMAN. Sir, you can’t go!
THURSTON. [Struggling.] Father! Father! Frank Thurston!
FIRST POLICEMAN. It’s impossible!
THURSTON. [Breaks free and draws a revolver.] So then must I be! I always took after my father! [Exit CORPSE, still beckoning.] On my way, old thing! Blood is thicker!
[Exit THURSTON, pursued by POLICEMEN and ELWOOD. NIGHT-GAUNTS holding moon and stars remain. Moon NIGHT-GAUNT begins tapping foot; stars NIGHT-GAUNT looks at invisible wristwatch, but they remain on stage.]
From “Diving to Dunwich”
“Once we purchased the rights to the story, Mr. Lovecraft wanted nothing more to do with us. Judging by the tone of his correspondence with Mr. Koch, I believe he thought our ideas for the script were rather silly.”
Testimony before the FCC’s Special Commission on Public Safety
21 November 1938
The installation of The Persistence of Dunwich requires a darkened room. Eight overlapping projection screens hang encircling a central platform, creating a room within the room. The central platform stands three feet high, and on it stand eight digital video projectors, facing outward. Around the central platform stand seven irregular platforms of the same height, with space enough between them for viewers to walk. The upper surfaces of all the platforms consist of green polystyrene foam carved into recreations of the topography of the sunken village of Dunwich, even down to tree stumps and cellar foundations.
The video projected on the screens incorporates the footage Hutchings shot on the floor of the Quabbin over the course of twenty hours, from pre-dawn to dusk, which the artist has condensed down to a four-hour program. The viewer stares out into the green murk, straining to see something to break the monotony of the lakebed. The eyes tend to drift around toward the two screens that show the foundations of the Armory, where perch cruise. Unseen speakers play a sibilant rumble, the sound of diving regulator that Hutchings has pitch-shifted downward and overlapped into a sound like the blood in one’s own ears.
The panorama appears to show Dunwich as it might appear to a diver, or on an array of webcams, but sustained attention belies the truth of the images. Some screens run backwards, tiny bubbles sinking, trout reversing across the plain, twilight becoming day becoming dawn. The screens play at slightly varying speeds, so that the light in any two does not necessarily match. Fish cluster along Armory foundations, but jump cuts make them lurch; at other times, one fish disappears while its fellows remain; another decays into a blocky mass of pixels, infecting the fish around it like a fungus designed by Mondrian. In a bolder defiance of mimesis, ghostly images of the lost buildings and villagers of Dunwich coalesce, with no regard to perspective relative to the objects in the frames. Some appear embedded halfway in the lakebed, while others wipe into existence like slides in a bad PowerPoint, photos pasted over the video.
Viewers walking among the topographical pseudo-islands partially block the projectors, so that their shadows fall on the video screens, creating negative space in the underwater scene even as they become screens themselves. Seeing “The Persistence of Dunwich” thus necessarily means interacting with it, such that it cannot be seen the same way twice. Viewers become material ghosts of and in the object, embedded thigh-deep in the three-dimensional polystyrene map, fish swimming in a sunken zoetrope. The viewer oscillates between seeing the panorama as an unmediated view into the Quabbin, seeing it as a digital evocation of Dunwich past and present, and seeing it as a constellation of material objects that includes the viewer’s body.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is Carl Perry once again, speaking to you from the ruins of the Mason farm outside of Dean’s Corners. The scene here is unbelievable. One hour ago a family of seven and four state troopers made their last stand in this house, against the unseen creatures terrorizing the valley. Now, it looks as if a bomb had struck the place, flattened it. A noxious ooze coats the wreckage, and stinks to heaven. If anyone in Dean’s Corners or Aylesbury is still listening to this broadcast, you are in danger. Repeat. You are in danger.”
--Frank Readick as Carl Perry
“The Dunwich Horror”
Mercury Theatre on the Air
30 October 1938
From “The Vostok Dossier”
PLEASE DON’T WRITE OVER THIS.
I decided to visit No Penguin Island, one of the Far Islands, to see Npobb, this old bloat-fiend who was supposed to know a lot about the Sea. Bloat-fiends gross me out, which is why I’d never gone before, but now I had a reason. Before I left, I grabbed a couple of penguins, figuring Npobb’s island didn’t get many, with a name like that.
No Penguin Island is gravelly, and almost under water at high tide, which is when I got there. I saw somebody on the far side.
“Npobb?” I shouted.
A voice rattled something I couldn’t hear.
I went over holding up the two thrashing penguins. “Npobb, you hungry?”
“Who asked you to bring me anything?” Npobb slurred.
“Nobody,” I said, as the reek of bloat-squid hit me.
Npobb squinted at the penguins. “I eat fine on my own.”
“Well, I guess if you don’t want them…”
“Hold on, now.” Npobb was drooling a lot, even for an old person. “I might consider a swap.”
“Um.” I thought fast. “How about one… uh, bloat-squid?”
Npobb laughed this gurgly laugh. “Done.”
On the beach Npobb had lined up stones to make bloat-pools, and in the pools floated dead short-armed squid, puffed up with gas. Npobb chose a small one, and we traded. While Npobb was scarfing the penguins, I flung the bloater across the island.
Why you’d want to eat something that was not only dead, but swole up tight with its own rot, I couldn’t understand. I got it that the bloat makes you feel high as a bat, but the smell made me want to turn inside out. And the only thing more pathetic than a bloat-fiend is an old bloat-fiend.
“So, Npobb,” I said.
“Hwhath that?” said Npobb, through bloody feathers. (It’s sick watching old people eat.)
“I heard you know a lot about the Far Islands.”
“True enough.” Npobb picked away feathers. “Say, just who am I talking to?”
“Oh.” I forgot how polite you have to be with old people. “My name’s Gheheeh, boss.”
“How do you do, Gheheeh?” And Npobb bowed, real high-toned.
“Um.” I bowed, but it looked stupid. “I was wondering if you could tell me about rocks with pictures.”
“They’re like writing, only you actually see—”
“I know what pictures are.” Npobb wasn’t slurring anymore. “What about rocks with pictures?”
“Where they are. Boss.”
I told Npobb what Hluht had told me, and said I wanted to know about the olden days. Npobb listened, and moved closer, all stinky. When I finished, Npobb’s eyes glowed.
“You kids know fuck-all.” Npobb pointed out to Sea, away from the Main Island. “Oh, the things this world holds. Maybe it’s better we’ve forgotten.”
I said, “I didn’t forget anything,” but then I wasn’t so sure.
“People forgot the old ways of learning things, like pictures, and books. The things they taught!” Npobb slouched down on the beach. “Diving. Stone-cutting. Anemone-bloating--”
“ ‘What’s diving’!” Npobb pointed at me. “Once, our people could live under the water as well as above.”
“Sorry.” That diving stuff sounded like the bloat talking. “I didn’t mean to make you mad.”
“So what are books?”
Npobb’s eyes narrowed. “ ‘Books,’ you say?”
“Well, you said it. I’m just repeating—”
“I know who said it!”
Silence. So I asked again: “What’s ‘books’?”
“A book is a great many wise things written down small, so you can carry it.”
“Why would you want to carry it?”
“To take it places.”
“But nobody else could read it.”
“You could. Wherever you were. And you could share it.”
“But why don’t you just remember the words, and leave the book?”
“A book has more words in it than you can remember.”
“I’ve never counted.”
“Six hundred twenty-five?”
Npobb laughed, gurgly. “I saw one had that many pages.”
“What are pages?”
Without answering, Npobb straightened up and waved for me to follow.
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DOUBLE SHOGGOTH FOLIO: A hardcover copy of the book, plus a bookmark, a bookplate, all three complete postcard sets, three signed and numbered prints (one by each artist), and "The Dossier Out of Providence," a handmade portfolio of documents that appear in the book. The book's acknowledgments will thank the backer by name.Estimated delivery:
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RECORDS OF THE 8TH AMERICAN-SOVIET FRIENDSHIP EXPEDITION: A hardcover copy of the book handmade by designer Sarah Richardson, plus a bookmark, a bookplate, all three complete postcard sets, three signed and numbered prints (one by each artist), and "The Dossier Out of Providence." The book's acknowledgments will thank the backer by name.Estimated delivery:
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KITAB AL-GEHEEH: A hardcover copy of the book handmade by designer Sarah Richardson, plus a bookmark, a bookplate, all three complete postcard sets, three signed and numbered prints (one by each artist), "The Dossier Out of Providence," and an original exquisite-corpse drawing by the three artists. The book's acknowledgments will thank the backer by name.Estimated delivery:
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RADIO TRANSCRIPTS OF TASK FORCE 43, OPERATION "SPRING THAW": A hardcover copy of the book handmade by designer Sarah Richardson, enclosed in a handmade slipcase, plus a bookmark, a bookplate, all three complete postcard sets, three signed and numbered prints (one by each artist), "The Dossier Out of Providence," and an original exquisite-corpse drawing by the three artists. The book's acknowledgments will thank the backer by name, and the backer may name a character whose graffiti will appear in "The Vostok Dossier."Estimated delivery:
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LEXICON OF THE NEFANDOUS THINGS: A hardcover copy of the book handmade by designer Sarah Richardson, enclosed in a handmade slipcase, plus a bookmark, a bookplate, all three complete postcard sets, three signed and numbered prints (one by each artist), "The Dossier Out of Providence," and an original exquisite-corpse drawing by the three artists. The book's acknowledgments will thank the backer by name, and the conspiracy cranks at Antarctic Truth will create a web page honoring the backer's work to expose the truth about aliens beneath the Antarctic ice.Estimated delivery:
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