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The All-Consuming Cthulhu Mythos

A Look at the Cthulhu mythos in All-Consuming Fire

By Nicholas Withers

As noted in my last article (in TSV 41), the New Adventures authors appear to be borrowing heavily from a 20th century mythos created by HP Lovecraft and his circle of writers, and constantly under expansion by other authors. All-Consuming Fire by Andy Lane is as notable for its Sherlock Holmes cross-over as for its Cthulhu mythos background. This article is devoted to discussing the mythos references within that novel.

The first suggestion that All-Consuming Fire might be a Cthulhu mythos novel comes in the form of the Library of Saint John the Beheaded. This library contains, among other weird and wonderful texts, the following two books:

Ludwig Prinn's De Vermiss Mysteriis - As discussed last issue this book does not exist in reality, but was a literary creation by Robert Bloch for his mythos stories.

Malleus Maleficarum - The 'Hammer of Witches'. A guide for inquisitors of the Middle Ages on the identification and torture of witches.

Both of these texts are used frequently in mythos stories.

It is Mrs Kate Prendersly who brings the next slice of mythos into the story (p52) when she quotes: 'I-ay, I-ay. Naghaa, naghai-ghai! Shoggog fathaghn!'; and later the following is also found (p111): 'I-ay, I-ay tsa toggua tholo-ya! Tholo-ya fathaghn!' Which is a jumble from a number of phrases and words straight out of the Cthulhu mythos: 'Ia! Ia! Shub-Niggurath...'; 'Ph' nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'leyh wgah' nagl fhtagn.' 'Shoggoths' becomes 'Shoggog' and 'Tsathoggua' becomes 'tsa toggua'.

In traditional mythos R'leyh is an ancient vast city that sunk beneath the Pacific Ocean. It is there, not far from New Zealand, that the Great Old One Cthulhu lies 'dead' until the time when the stars are right and R'leyh will once again rise from the murky depths. In fact the phrase, 'Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'leyh wgah'nagl fhtagn' theoretically translates to 'In his house in R'leyh dead Cthulhu lies dreaming'.

Andy Lane changed R'leyh, a dead city beneath the ocean, to Ry'leh, an alien world. Later a portion of this world is entitled the Plain of Leng. The Plain or Plateau of Leng is again straight out of the Cthulhu mythos.

It is the Doctor's explanation on pages 220-221 that irrevocably combines the New Adventures universe with that of the Cthulhu mythos. The Doctor declares that the enemy 'Azathoth' is a god of Anarchy and Chaos in a multi-galactic pantheon of common Gods. In Cthulhu mythos, Azathoth is indeed the god of Chaos. Continuing, the Doctor clumps all these creatures together into the label of 'Great Old Ones' (also a traditional mythos term). He then continues to list various Great Old Ones which he has encountered or hopes never to encounter:

Cthulhu - It becomes apparent now that the Old One trying to break through in Haiti was the dream image of Cthulhu himself. It is Cthulhu that the Cthulhu mythos was named.

Gods of Ragnarok - These Great Old Ones are singular to the Doctor Who universe and are not found in the traditional mythos stories.

Nyarlathotep - is traditionally the messenger, heart and soul of the outer Gods, and the only one with a true personality. He performs the will of the outer Gods and attempts to bring madness and destruction to humanity. Prophesy has him responsible for the final downfall of man.

Dagon - the 'God' of the Deep-One race in traditional mythos. Andy Lane links the Sea Devils to Dagon, and hence the suggestion that the Sea Devils are in fact the 'Deep-One' race described in HP Lovecraft's Shadow over Innsmouth story.

Hastur the Unspeakable (or He Who is Not to be Named) - Hastur's physical form dwells near the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus. He is connected with the Lake of Hali and the mythic city of Carcosa. Hastur has been known to possess people (as Fenric also did), and lakes; an entirely accurate description in any mythos stories. It is perhaps for these two reasons that Andy Lane chose to link Fenric and Hastur as the same being.

Yog-Sothoth - Traditionally Yog-Sothoth dwells in the interstices between the planes which compose the universe. Yog-Sothoth is often referred to as 'the Key and the Gate' or as 'the Opener of the Way'. According to Andy Lane the Great Intelligence in the Yeti stories was a manifestation of Yog-Sothoth.

Lloigor - This is a race of vortices of power. While normally invisible they can also appear in a large reptilian form. Partly because of their vast psychic powers they are sometimes referred to as 'Masters of the Tentacle'.

Through the Doctor, Andy Lane sums up one of the principles of the Cthulhu mythos with the statement: 'All alien to this universe and its laws, both moral and physical.'

In the normal Cthulhu mythos Azathoth is best described as a vast amorphous body that writhes endlessly to the monotonous piping of a flute. Azathoth lies at the centre of the known universe. It is both blind and idiotic, and is sometimes referred to as 'a monstrous nuclear chaos'. His urges are immediately fulfilled by the Nyarlathotep.

The Azathoth in All-Consuming Fire is a giant slug with intelligence, a form of mind-control and an ability to change people into aliens. This Azathoth appears to be utilising order rather than the chaos traditionally associated with Azathoth.

The two appear irreconcilable. However within the Cthulhu mythos some of the Gods have Avatars. An Avatar is a creature which draws their power from their God, or are a corporeal form of that God. Ahtu is an Avatar of Nyarlathotep, while the King in Yellow is sometimes thought of as an Avatar of Hastur. Perhaps the Azathoth within the All-Consuming Fire story is in fact not the original Azathoth, but an Avatar of Azathoth. This would reconcile the two differing Azathoths.

All-Consuming Fire represents a nexus, or joining point, not only with the universe of Sherlock Holmes, but also with the Cthulhu mythos. Andy Lane illustrates that the Doctor has been fighting the Great Old Ones for a long time, and that individuals that were previously not thought of in mythos terms were in fact mythos deities (or at least Avatars). But again no credit is given to HP Lovecraft, the founder of the Cthulhu mythos.

This item appeared in TSV 42 (January 1995).

Index nodes: All-Consuming Fire
Related Items: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of Dr. Who