I. The Book
It all began because I was not afraid
and I told the bookseller so.
Horror tales never disturbed me
never elicited that much desired chill of terror.Erin Donahoe, “The Old Ones Reborn” in H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror Spring-Summer 2007, 36
There are no rules for the Mythos, but there are traditions. H. P. Lovecraft’s original works blazed a trail that many have tread, sometimes following in his footsteps, sometimes eschewing the increasingly well-beaten paths to branch off in their own directions. The route maps for these weird trails are written down in bibliographies, indices, and concordances…but there are too many. No one source can map them all, and even those dryly noted road markers can only point a reader in the right direction.
It is still up to individual readers to hunt down the sources if they want to follow some of these off-trails. There are little-tread and oft-overlooked byways, paths in danger of being forgotten and lost in the weeds. Works that never see reprinting, and aren’t likely to. Some day, the last copy of a magazine will fall apart, and some small part of the Mythos will be lost forever.
II. The Reading
I lifted the heavy tome
and placed it on the table before the window
moonlinght shining in upon the book’s dark surface.Erin Donahoe, “The Old Ones Reborn” in H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror Spring-Summer 2007. 37
The Internet Speculative Fiction Database entry for Erin Donahoe shows she was most active in the early 2000s; the page contains a link to the web archive of her long-defunct SFF.net profile, and links from there go to her long-defunct personal blog and a more extensive bibliography. Magazine publications, online publications, and involvements with various small publications. “The Old Ones Reborn,” published in 2007, is the latest work of hers listed. It may well have been her last work published.
More digging would probably find out more about Erin Donahoe, but the point is not to engage in digital stalking or necromancy, it is to illustrate a point: not all creators are in it for the long haul, not every literary or artistic path goes very far. For every writer, poet, artist, and fan-publisher who devotes their life to creation, there are many others whose careers cover only a handful of years when time and enthusiasm allow such efforts. Then other priorities shift to the fore: careers, relationships, kids and parents and pets to take care of, health issues, money issues, etc.
III. The Dream
My explanation at the time was
That it was some kind of hypnosis, that I was sleepwalking.
I only remember feeling that I had been submerged
in warm, nearly scalding water, but that,
in some manner, I was able
to breathe.Erin Donahoe, “The Old Ones Reborn” in H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror Spring-Summer 2007. 37
“The Old Ones Reborn” is a narrative poem in free verse, perhaps inspired by Lovecraft’s “Fungi from Yuggoth” sonnet cycle, and starting in a very similar manner—perhaps as homage—but Donahoe follows tradition only so far. She took it in a different direction, more stylistically similar to Caitlín R. Kiernan than Lovecraft or Derleth. More about the experience of being in that situation, that first encounter with the Mythos, the violation of that threshold, and what happened next.
Donahoe does not need to use the names Arkham, Dunwich, or Innsmouth to invoke something of them; does not need to name the Deep Ones, Cthulhu, or Yog-Sothoth to suggest their presence. The poem is more effective for its restraint; for suggesting connections instead of making them concrete. Making the reader draw their own conjectures, based on the paths they have walked.
IV. The Visions
The things I saw over the net several days,
and so many days since,
were terrifying in ways mre words
could never describe or explain;
but minding that inadequacy, I will attempt
to tell here of the most prominent of my visions.Erin Donahoe, “The Old Ones Reborn” in H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror Spring-Summer 2007. 38
“The Old Ones Reborn” was published in H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror Spring-Summer 2007. It has not been reprinted, or collected. All the copies of it may well be contained in that print run, and when the grey, soft paper rots and molds…it may be lost. There are no ebooks, as yet, and may never be. Few libraries have copies. What efforts are being made to preserve it are collectors, and the people who sell to collectors. With luck, perhaps it will outlast living memory for a couple generations.
Other works are not so fortunate. Some are lost; others simply…obscure. Poems and stories that are not republished are generally not read, and that is another kind of death. Forgotten paths, some going nowhere, others leading into new dark places…and who is to say which is which? Should works like “The Fluff at the Threshold” (1996) by Simon Leo Barber or “Two Fungi From Yuggoth” (1977) by Alice Briley be lost forever to obscurity? It is always a thought, in retreading these rare paths, to think of what feet may yet follow, and what they will make of it.
V. The End (?)
I am not alone on this rocky pedestal;
the bookseller is here with me,
the gleam in his eye telling me
that while he may not be the father of the
burden in my womb
he certainly had the pleasure
of violating me.Erin Donahoe, “The Old Ones Reborn” in H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror Spring-Summer 2007. 39
Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard and Others and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.
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