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The Cthulhu Mythos in White Darkness & Other New Adventures

By Nicholas Withers

'... but I shall never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that lurk ceaselessly behind life in time and in space, and of those unhallowed blasphemies from elder stars...'
- The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, together with a closed circle of authors and correspondents, were responsible in the early half of this century for creating numerous horror stories sharing a common background which has been called the Cthulhu mythos. Just as the New Adventures novels all share the common world(s) of Doctor Who, so too did these horror stories share the common background of sanity-destroying creatures such as Cthulhu, Azathoth and the King in Yellow.

In White Darkness the author, David McIntee, has attempted to link the Cthulhu mythos with Doctor Who. The Doctor gains more knowledge of the Old Ones in White Darkness by consulting a book titled 'Necronomicon'. Also mentioned as appearing in a bookcase are the other tomes: The Book of Eibon, and Ludwig Prinn's De Vermis Mysteriis (p176).

The 'Necronomicon' (Greek for Customs or Laws of the Dead) was invented by HP Lovercraft as a reference work which he frequently refers to in his stories. The frequent references are so convincing that many libraries and bookshops still get requests for it, despite it not being real. The first story it appeared in was The Hound.

The Book of Eibon (also known as 'Liber Ivonis') is another entirely invented book that does not exist as a complete text, but is used as a reference in the stories of Clark Ashton Smith.

De Vermis Mysteriis ('Mysteries of the Worm') is an invented reference work by Robert Bloch, author of Psycho. It is first referred to in his story The Secret of the Tomb. In The Shambler from the Stars Robert Bloch first uses the Latin title and describes its history.

The mysterious Old Ones in White Darkness also occur in the Cthulhu mythos. The Great Old Ones are immensely powerful alien beings with seemingly supernatural abilities, who are temporarily imprisoned in some way. They wait for the time 'when the stars are right' when they will be released from their imprisonment by the rituals of dream and telepathically influenced cult members, and plunge from world to world to set up their own empire. Cthulhu, the most famous creation of HP Lovecraft, is a Great Old One who is imprisoned in a tomb at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in the sunken city of R'lyeh. The Old Ones believe that the Earth is rightfully theirs and man is only a temporary aberration.

Another link exists in that the name of the character Howard Phillips in White Darkness is clearly derived from Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

In Cat's Cradle: Warhead it is Cthulhu Gate software which interferes with existing virtual reality software, creating images of white apes. This is a reference to HP Lovecraft's Arthur Jermyn (The White Ape) story, where the main character discovered something dubious about his own lineage.

In The Pit the enemy that hides behind the veil trying to escape is named Yssgaroth and comes from a different universe, or at least from outside this universe. In the Cthulhu mythos Yog-Sothoth dwells outside the normal plain of existence.

HP Lovecraft's influence as the master of horror has extended far around the world, and has even now begun permeating the universe of Doctor Who. There can be no escape - only next time let's see a dedication to the late HP Lovecraft in the front of the book.

This item appeared in TSV 41 (October 1994).

Related Items: The All-Consuming Cthulhu Mythos
Index nodes: White Darkness, Cat's Cradle: Warhead, The Pit