Favourite creatures from the Cthulhu Mythos?

Brian G Turner

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#1
I always had a soft spot for the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath and Cthonians - there seemed to be something particularly terrible about these.

Yog-Sothoth seemed such a strange entity as well - a god composed of inter-dimensional spheres was it?

Also - the Elder Things as an alien race, in the Shadow out of Time (I think!), that once inhabited this earth were entirely convincing - not least because they are so strange and unfathomable and refuse to make any form of sense - part vegetable weren't they?

Perhaps one to take the biscuit was the Shoggoth in the Mountains of Madness!
 
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#2
I've always found Nyarlathotep fascinating - because he is so vaguely defined. From the Tesla-esque expositor of sinister electrical phenomena in the story 'Nyarlathotep' to the shape-shifting schemer in 'The Whisperer in Darkness', he seems to have evolved and changed quite a bit in Lovecraft's mind.

The Elder Gods are indeed a compelling and memorable creation.

Cthulhu himself is a pretty scary beastie - this description from 'The Call of Cthulhu' is brilliant:

If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful.
I think Lovecraft was a master at providing the barest amount of description of his monsters and leaving it to our imaginations to flesh th erest out according to our own fears.
 
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Brian G Turner

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#3
His descriptions are generally pretty excellent, though - it's probably the fact that the creatures in his mythos were so terribly beyond his time that has helped him endure as a writer. If he had written about vampires or werewolves then he would seem a strange hack - but the fact that he wrote about creatures of such imaginative design makes the whole mythos experience all the more chilling.

Was there a fad for it, though? I just remember the description of the Martians in War of the Worlds by HG Wells seemed somehow to lend itself to the mythos.
 

polymorphikos

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#4
I liked the way he could bend logic just enough to make his monsters credible. "The Lurking fear" is a perfect example of it, with the degenerated Dutch family. The concept dragged a 200 page adventure story out of me, it was so intriguing. If his monsters had been demons, not strange, pandimensional beings, then all the allure of something so unquantified would have been sucked from them. It's like small children with big, fighting adults.
 
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#5
Thought I'd help get this thread goin' a bit, as it seemed a rather fun one, and that it's sadly died down a bit....

I'd have to say that, first and foremost, Shub-Niggurath would have to be my first favourite...the dark mother archtype that she portrays is one that brings up glimpses of a dark mother goddess that's present in a lot of faiths, yet is done in such a way that is so ellusive as to call strongly to to the ambiguity that comes with a dark mother deity. She's something we can relate to and understand deeply...yet not with any sort of understanding that we can grasp hold of on any more than an intuitive level, and Lovecraft, I think, has done this extremelly well, as Shub is the only one out of all his creatures whose origins we're not 100% sure about.

I'm also a fan of Nyarlathotep as well...perhaps because there's something so familliar about him, with his ability to shift into human form as needed, and him being the one to take any sort of interest in men's affairs at all...makes him a bit more solidified and easier to grasp, as a result.

I'm also a rather big fan of Cthulhu, but that's more because of the absolutely insane amount of Lovecraft paraphenellia that's danced up and around this particular character...hehehe, I even saw plush Cthulhu bedroom slippers for sale online once, which I want RATHER badly! And, I did at one point have a Cthulhu plush toy, complete with posable wings, that I'd snuggle up to at night. But, sadly, he was left on a Grayhound bus back in the states as I made my way from Oregon to San Francisco for my first leg of my trip to England! *Bites lip and looks worried* I do hope it didn't scare some poor child on the bus too badly!

The fascinating thing to me, as well, about the mythos is that so much of what Lovecraft described were from dreams he had...he was absolutelly plagued by nightmares for a good part of his life...tons of them...and often exactly what you read in his stories were his attempts at getting onto paper the very images he had dreamed about only moments before, and to me lends itself to the fact that what with these beings being the bizarre, pandementional creatures that they are, it adds a really wonderful aura of fear and mystery when you consider that the very way they communicate to humans is through the very dreams Lovecraft had...
 
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#6
I said:
Yog-Sothoth seemed such a strange entity as well - a god composed of inter-dimensional spheres was it?
As I recall, YS was the "goat with a thousand young", which made me think of a reeallly tired old nanny :D
 
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#10
The end of "At the Mountains of Madness" is chilling. Throughout the whole of the piece we are gradually exposed to greater and yet more horrific revelations, first the ancient fossils lingering at the base of those dread peaks, thence to the antediluvian city of the Old Ones, thence to the unspeakable Shoggoths perched on the rim of the nameless and subterranean abyss, and finally that one cosmic and mind-blasting glimpse of the mountains beyond the great Plateau of Leng and the thing that dwells atop... Chilling. I think the mindless gibbering of Danforth is all any man may spout in the circumstance, and the meaningless and contradictory remarks -- "the black pit," "the carven rim," "the nameless cylinder," "the primal white jelly," "the color out of space," "the eyes in darkness," "the moon-ladder," -- make it all the more horrifying as an entity.

In a similar vein, the whistling wind that chases Peaslee through the ruined Cyclopean city at the end of "Shadow out of Time" was an especially terrifying entity. Again, it is a nebulous undefined evil which is built up slowly and in steps. The hideous cone-shaped beings shunned the trapdoor for wholly unknown reasons, and when Peaslee encounters the place of his nightmares and notices the trapdoor is open... his perilous sneak past the trapdoor and subsequent flight from the viscous whistling wind -- every aspect of this scene is gripping.

I also have always loved the notion of Azathoth, the blind and seething idiot-god with his demon pipers cavorting at the center of the universe. It's a superb idea. Makes me wonder what sort of cosmic horrors HPL would have come up with had he lived longer.
 
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#11
AnkhGoddess said:
I'm also a fan of Nyarlathotep as well...perhaps because there's something so familliar about him, with his ability to shift into human form as needed, and him being the one to take any sort of interest in men's affairs at all...makes him a bit more solidified and easier to grasp, as a result.
Strange. I've always found Nyarl one of the less nerve-jangling of the Mythos, pretty much for the reason you find him so horrible/excellent(?). The creatures that I could grasp or understand in some aspect ceased to retain their hold over me. Still unnerving though.

The fascinating thing to me, as well, about the mythos is that so much of what Lovecraft described were from dreams he had...he was absolutelly plagued by nightmares for a good part of his life...tons of them...and often exactly what you read in his stories were his attempts at getting onto paper the very images he had dreamed about only moments before, and to me lends itself to the fact that what with these beings being the bizarre, pandementional creatures that they are, it adds a really wonderful aura of fear and mystery when you consider that the very way they communicate to humans is through the very dreams Lovecraft had...
I agree. Lovecraft for me captured the essence of nightmare perfectly -- the feverish visions in "Dreams in the Witch House" with their mad and indescribable shapes and cacophonic screaming being perhaps the prime example. His best work seems to perch teetering on the brink between the possible and the impossible, a sort of dissolution of logic and meaning, with the potential of a plunge into madness at any moment. It's the unknown, but an unknown with sentience and menace pulsing at the edges.

Incidentally, I think many of the creatures of the Mythos work so well because of their nightmarish surroundings. We have the non-Euclidean underwater city of R'Lyeh in "Call of Cthulhu" where the very laws of physics seem to be defied, the howling pit of Shub Niggurath in "Thing on the Doorstep" seemingly out of place or time. In Lovecraft's work I've always (subconsciously) associated the creature with the lair. Take the creature out of its surroundings and it turns to nothing more than a Geiger-esque abstraction.
 
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edott

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#13
have to say the elder were the ones i always thought were the neatest that and the deep ones. can remember playing call of cthuluh in high school, everyone goes mad.
 
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#15
Lovecraft borrowed from Welles, perhaps, in the tentacled nature of the Martian enemy.

Has anyone noticed how much the go'aould on Stargate resemble the Great Old Ones,ancient,arrogant, powerful and cruel-just not quite as colorful or outlandish.

The concepts are getting crowded.

Which is good, variations on a theme, exploration of possibilities, whatnot.
 

Cyril

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#16
knivesout said:
I've always found Nyarlathotep fascinating - because he is so vaguely defined.
I can't say why, but I've also been fascinated by Nyarlathotep. And what a name... when I read and hear it, I feel a huge divine power behind a name like that. I think its ancient egyptian resonance helps to increase that feeling.

knivesout said:
Cthulhu himself is a pretty scary beastie - this description from 'The Call of Cthulhu' is brilliant.
I always found Cthuluth a bit ridiculous and in the same time very fearsome. There a sort of childhood spirit in it, like a power not yet revealed in gestation... the promise of a future in fact. I never felt that with the rest of Lovecraft bestiary which appears to me more mature. Perhaps this feeling comes from the fact that I better know Lovecraft universe through roleplaying games than the reading of its stories.
 
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#17
You've got it, all right, you just don't know it yet.
The Great Old Ones are a bit childish, arrogant and foolish at times, too.
The Go'aould on Stargate remind me of the GOO, not as colorful, a lot smaller, but the same sort of personality.
With lots of power, and a great desire to reclaim the Earth for themselves!
 
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#18
Mors Profundis said:
Lovecraft borrowed from Welles, perhaps, in the tentacled nature of the Martian enemy.

Has anyone noticed how much the go'aould on Stargate resemble the Great Old Ones,ancient,arrogant, powerful and cruel-just not quite as colorful or outlandish.

The concepts are getting crowded.

Which is good, variations on a theme, exploration of possibilities, whatnot.
Not to mention the fact that the Shadows in Babylon-5 were, according to their creator, directly influenced by Lovecraft's stories. Until the end, they remained quite capable of making the hair on the back of my neck stand at attention!

Favorite beasties, eh? hmmmmm. I'm afraid I don't have a particular favorite; each appeals in a different way. I suppose, overall, if I had to pick, it would probably be Nyarlathotep because he was so malleable; from the "Crawling Chaos" of Lovecraft's earliest stories (and the Tessla-esque charlatan; good for you, Knivesout!) to the monstrous avatar in "The Haunter of the Dark". Oddly, I'd probably put Cthulhu next, as he really appears (and even then offstage) in one of HPL's tales, the rest of the time he's alluded to, or it's a statue of (though there are hints the wax figure in "The Horror in the Museum" -- which, I might point out, Lovecraft intended as tongue-in-cheek -- may be the Big C), etc.; so his power as a symbol of the utter alienness of the universe at large remains. Has it ever occurred to anyone else that the unknown being/force in "The Colour Out of Space" may be Nyarlathotep? Just a possibility; I'm not even sure it's an original thought, but it's one that has occurred to me (the Crawling Chaos aspect). But in picking even this far, I'm straining a bit.
 
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#19
It'll have to be Ithaqua the Wind-Walker and that image of him just blotting out the sky with two red stars where eyes should be. All those people mysteriously vanishing only to appear ages later in a distant place all frzen and with odd things in their pockets.

And the High Priest of Leng. He's never ever really described but there's something horribly fascinating and frightening about the fact that this features are quite alright.

 

Somebloke

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#20
While I like Cuthulu, he is by no means the best. It's hard to be completely respectful of a god that manages to get bested by- however briefly- a fishing-trawler.

I think that Azathoth- for reasons stated above- is perhaps the best for me- he manages to perfectly capture the cosmic bleakness of Lovecraft's universe. Close runner up would be the Shoggoth, although most of this comes from my first preconception- a slow moving creature such as out of the blob- when it comes rocketting down the tunnel I got the shock of my life.
 

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