Azathoth: The Complete lovecraft #33

The novel that never was… About a deity never mentioned in the fragment that remains… Azathoth is arguably the great lost work. If a copy of the complete word exists, it is only in the Library of unwritten books in the castle of Morpheus, and if that’s the case the Liberian Lucian isn’t of a mind to lend it out.

The fragment that remains, a mere 500 words, does not even mention Azathoth himself. The biggest badest deity of all the outer gods, he of whom Nyarlathotep is merely the Herald, is never mentioned beyond the title. Though he makes appearances in several other works by old tentacle hugger including ‘The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath’ the dream quest novella which some Lovecraftian academics point to as following the same ideas and the basic plot that Lovecraft had planned for this abortive attempt. Indeed notes he wrote for himself on the subject matter of this never written novel read…

 A terrible pilgrimage to seek the nighted throne of the far daemon-sultan Azathoth.

And…

Weird Eastern tale in a 18th-century manner…

Which is not too far removed from the core plot of the dream-quest. But alas unless we manage to sneak past the gates of horn and ivory or Dream, of Neil Gaiman’s Endless,  lets us into his Library we will never know.

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So what are we left with, 500 words that were published posthumously, which I suspect Lovecraft would never have released. A fragment of a greater work that never was. Yet somehow despite that Azathoth is one of the most well-known of the mythos gods. Up there with the many masked trickster, Yoggie and old tentacle face. As a figure of inspiration Azathoth is in a class of his own. Chaosium published a cycle of works back in 1995 based upon Azathoth as a core figure. He is embraced by the extended Lovecraft universe and crops up all over the place in other stories, novels, RPG’s and computer games. Indeed there is even a zone called “Church of Azatoth” in the latest incarnation of Quake.

The treaty of the Azures, (a fictional treaty between humanity and the Deep Ones in Charles Stross’s Laundry novels.) stipulates, quite wisely…

Neither party shall summon Azathoth without prior consent from the other party…

As summoning Azathoth would, if the blind, idiot star god answered, spell in all likelihood the end of all life on earth. Or at the very least an explosion the equivale of a  small nuclear arsenal going off in one place. The most worrying thing about that clause is that either side thought it was needed. Though personally, I suspect it was the Deep Ones who insisted upon it, having met a few members of humanity over the years  I can see why they would… I could imagine the current resident of a pale building in the district threating to do so if those ‘bad dudes’ in the deep did not back off from their threatening behaviour around Innsmouth, for a start…

Another example of Azathoth in popular Lovecraftian culture is his appearance as one of the possible main bosses in the board game Arkham Horror. Unlike the rest of the main bosses you can choose to play against, Nyarlathotep, Hastur, Cthulhu, Yig, Ithaqa and the rest, if Azathoth is summoned there is no end game phase where the heroes can try (and usually fail) to vanquish the big bad back to the hellish realms from which they were summoned. Instead, the game just ends due to the little matter of the ‘The World Is Devoured.‘ effect coming into play. Which is known to shorten the end game considerably…

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Even for an entity mentioned in several of Lovecraft’s best-known works, albeit fleetingly in most cases, Azathoths influence on wider Lovecraftian culture is enormous. The star-spawn gets everywhere, which isn’t bad for what amounts to the equivalent of a scrap-end of fiction on a hard drive. As a writer myself, I have a lot of scrap-ends floating about as the wider readers of this blog will know (hence the link), but I seriously doubt any of them could ever have the overall impact of Azathoth on popular culture. Something akin to a world-sized monstrosity eating planets… Though it is the Azathoth of other tales which has sunk him so deep into the collective Lovecraftian zeitgeist, he was after all first imagined in this one. Where I giving out tentacles for impact, then this tale would get 6 of the little suckers. But for the tale itself, it is a disappointing 1, if that seems harsh then I would say this. Lovecraft never sought publication for these words, it is an incomplete passage, even as a short story and perhaps it would have been better left buried in his scrap ends pile. Azathoth would still be who he is, and have his same place in the zeitgeist. Nothing is added here, it’s a neat piece of creative writing, but beyond that, it is nothing at all.

You may have noticed I have said very little if anything about the story itself, that’s because there is very little you can say about it. It is only 500 words or so long after all and doesn’t go anywhere much in the process. But if you want to read it, there is an online copy here at the depository

But until the Sandman opens up his library and lets us read the novel that was never written, that’s all we have of Azathoth the novel…

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Further Lovecraftian witterings 

 

This entry was posted in dreamlands, Lovecraft, mythos, reads, sci-fi and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Azathoth: The Complete lovecraft #33

  1. Pingback: Herbert West-Reanimator: The Complete Lovecraft #34 | The Passing Place

  2. Pingback: What The Moon Brings: The Complete Lovecraft #36 | The Passing Place

  3. Pingback: The Descendent: The Complete Lovecraftian #45 | The Passing Place

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