“The Fluff at the Threshold” (1996) by Simon Leo Barber

WHICH ELDER BEING MAKES THE BEST SEX PARTNER?
There are many opinions, but shoggoths come well recommended for sheer versatility.
Thus:
Found posted by: Nyar@blibble.demon.co.uk, November 1994
Retyped in by: Kevin@fairbruk.demon.co.uk (so the typos are all my fault)

10 Reasons why a shoggoth is the perfect lover
———————————————-
1) It can form any pseudopod, and thus can form the perfect extrusion or cavity to suit your needs.

2) It will sleep on the wet patch, or on the floor, or even in the garage.

3) It can keep going as long as you want it to.

4) Since it has a different biological basis, it cannot give you any form of STD, and thus barrier methods are not required. Please remember to wash your shoggoth in an antiseptic if sharing between partners.

5) It cannot get you pregnant

6) It can give you a back massage, answer the phone, open a beer, have sex with multiple people, change the CD _and_ take dictation all at the same time. (They also make good secretaries.) They do have a slight problem with Microsoft Word for Windows though, no-one is quite sure why.

7) It can hold the door shut so no-one can burst in on you.

8) It never suffers from impotence or headaches.

9) It will respect you in the morning and will not leave you for someone else (unless they happen to know ‘bind shoggoth’ as well. At this point your shoggoth will get very confused, split into two shoggoths, and bits of both will keep commuting between the two masses. Great for parties.)

10) It won’t insist on you meeting it’s parents. (If you do meet its parents, lose 1d6/0 SAN.)

Nyar – now all I have to do is learn to summon one…

alt.sex.cthulhu FAQ (29 May 1997)

On 30 November 2001, a would-be erotic fanfiction writer under the pseudonym Winston Marrs (lifted from a character in the 1994 Shadowrun game for Sega Genesis) uploaded a story titled “The Mother of Cthulu” (sic) to an erotic fanfiction site called The Grey Archive. Via the internet archive, you can revisit the Grey Archive just as it was on the day the story was posted—but you can’t read it. The archive didn’t try to capture “The Mother of Cthulu” until after the Grey Archive had changed its hosting service, and the old addresses all led to spam sites. Nor did anyone else apparently think to preserve Winston Marrs’ erotic opus elsewhere on the internet.

“The Mother of Cthulu” is lost to time.

Which is a fate that has probably occurred to the bulk of erotic Lovecraftian fanfiction on the internet over the last twenty-plus years. Erotica is an inherently disposable mode of fiction; with rare exception the literary and artistic value of individual works doesn’t overcome the taboo nature of ownership. Erotic fiction on the internet faces additional challenges: site owners and administrators retire or pass away, copyright claims can deter downloading or hosting content, file formats go obsolete, changes in search engines make finding it harder. While a number of fans have written adult-oriented Mythos fiction, much of it is by its very nature obscure to the casual user—or even the dedicated researcher.

In the early days of computer networking, popular networks like Usenet fulfilled the function that forums and social media sites do today. Many of these early networks, and the world wide web they began to interact with, were poorly or incompletely archived, like the Grey Archive above. Bits and pieces still exist, in some form or another. Google acquired the Usenet archives in 2001, and you can still visit Usenet groups like alt.sex.cthulhu today—if you’re willing to dig through twenty-plus years of pornographic spam.

Fortunately, if you dig down far enough, you don’t have to. Back around 1996, an archive site for alt.sex.cthulhu was created at cthulhu.org, and the Internet Archive has a copy of that. These were stories originally posted to the alt.sex.cthulhu Usenet group in the mid-to-late 1990s…which is probably as far back as internet Lovecraftian erotica can go. Included in this archive is “The Fluff At The Threshold” by Simon Leo Barber…which can serve as an exemplar of Lovecraftian erotic fanfiction during this period. A core sample from the digital Mountains of Madness.

It was to my cousin’s house on Carcosa Crescent that I came that December, to look over the property and to set the place in order. I had been long overseas, first working as an assistant to the Professor Of Difficult Sums at Celaeno Gate College in the sultry Celebes Islands, and then recalled to the family Regiment when it formed up at the end of the War of Liberation in 2029, when the stranglehold of the EC over the (now happily Nationalised) landmass of Europe, had been so crashingly broken.
—Simon Leo Barber, “The Fluff At The Threshold”

One of the hallmarks of this story is that it is pretty much pure pastiche—while the setting is in the (now not so far and distant) future of 2029, in a near-Cthulhupunk setting, Barber is deliberately invoking tropes of Mythos fiction past: the inheritance gambit, where a relative died and now the protagonist inherits their property and its terrible secrets.

The setting is almost surreal, the kind of mish-mash of 90s references and silliness one might expect to find in a bizarro novel today. This is not porn-without-plot, there’s a fair narrative built up before we get to anything that might be mistaken for a naughty bit. As weird as it may sound, while this exact combination of strangeness may never have been arrived at before or since, the thread of humor in the story is exceptionally characteristic of much fanfiction in the period. The general attitude toward the material is reminiscent of farcical works like Bored of the Rings and National Lampoon’s Doon, or the Lovecraftian episode of The Adventures of Samurai Cat.

Good clean fun…well, maybe not entirely clean.

“Our Dark Mother Of The Woods,” I smiled to myself, making a reverent sinuous gesture, as tentacle-like as an internal skeleton would allow, to Shub-Niggurath, the Dark Goat Of The Woods With A Thousand Young. “Or, as they’d call her under the EC’s Correction Enforcement Policies, “The Ethnically Coloured Caprine Deity-Person of The Sylvan Ecosystem With The Relaxed Attitude To Birth-Control”……..”
—Simon Leo Barber, “The Fluff At The Threshold”

Readers looking for exquisite descriptions of shoggoth sex should probably look elsewhere. While there is that kind of smut on alt.sex.cthulhu archives and elsewhere, this is a Mythos story about sex in the same way that “The Dunwich Horror” or “The Shadow over Innsmouth” is—just one that takes place in a dystopic future full of talking animals.

Which is, in its own way, a testament to the kind of variety one sees in erotic fanfiction. It’s not all hardcore pornography, nor has it ever been. While there is plenty of sexually explicit Lovecraftian fanfiction out there, on sites like Literotica.com and the Alt Sex Stories Repository, the erotic impulse isn’t restricted to just the nastiest and most explicit kink-laden literary porn one can dream up…it can be fun too.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard and Others and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.

Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein uses Amazon Associate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

One thought on ““The Fluff at the Threshold” (1996) by Simon Leo Barber

  1. Liked the Barber stories all quite a bit when discovering them 20 years back. Good world-building and funny too. I just discovered this blog. Keep up the good work.

    Like

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