More Mythos. More Fighting.
This time, I take a look at At the Mountains and Madness (and other Tales of Terror, which is Shunned House, Dreams in the Witch House (which we took a look at in Can You Fight the Mythos, Part III, and the Statement of Randolph Carter.)
At the Mountains of Madness
Short Spoilery Synopsis: There’s an expedition to Antartica using an experimental drill, and weird alien cadavers are found. Then most of the expedition goes missing (from one of said cadavers, which wasn’t really dead), and the rest goes looking for them, and finds a ruined city with surprisingly informative pictoral carvings. Seriously- these guys have no common language to go on, but are able to extrapolate vast swaths of the history of the Elder Things from their carvings, in the space of a few hours. Lovecraft came up with an interesting backstory, but failed to find an adequate way to convey it.
Then in the depths they are chased by a shoggoth, or a demon subway, or something. The narrator’s partner, at the end, who is stated as strangely reticent, still seems to have offered quite an info-dump of Lovecraft-miscellania.
Textual Effectiveness of Weaponry: The Elder Things are successfully dissected, albeit with some difficulty, having tough hides and unusual anatomy. No real attempt is made to interact with the shoggoth, or really to perceive it.
Can You Fight the Elder Things: Yes. The Elder Things overpower the humans in the story, due to parts surprise and physical superiority. However human implements can inflict harm on Elder Things, and some of the curious scientists may have inadvertently killed slumbering Elder Things, just as they inadvertently woke them.
Can You Fight a Shoggoth: Inconclusive, Leaning No. The Shoggoth is large and consists of “plastic organs.” Even the Elder Things are afraid of it. It could theoretically be possible, with reverse-engineered Elder Thing technology to fight a Shoggoth, but we get the impression that improperly armed, even the Elder Things fall before it.
Although a nuclear bomb would probably work.
The Shunned House
Short Spoilery Synopsis: A house is haunted by the spirit of Etienne Roulet, who drains the vitality of those living in it, and occasionally manifests as unusual lights in the basement at night. Our protagonist and his scientist uncle camp out in the basement of the house overnight, to see if they can find it.
Textual Support of Weaponry: The Whipples are probably the most awesome Lovecraft protagonists ever: they come in loaded for bear, with a pair of flamethrowers, and a Crookes tube, for channeling “vigorously destructive ether radiations.” The flamethrower itself is never used. But the Crookes tube is, to no effect.
After fleeing, the protagonist comes back the next day, digs up the basement, and destroys the gigantic spirit with sulphuric acid.
Can You fight the Thing in the Shunned House: Yes. Sulphuric Acid cleansed the place, and destroyed the physical manifestation. Dealing with the spirit, that’s quite a bit trickier, as the countermeasure specifically for incorporeal beings didn’t work. Fortunately, it’s tied to the place, so you just have to follow the protagonists’s lead.
Interestingly, the presence of the Crookes tube, and the intent to portray the Whipples as competent occulists, suggests that at least some incorporeal beings in the Cthulhu Mythos are vulnerable to radiation (which would probably change a lot of the No and Inconclusive answers to the yes end of the spectrum, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.) It would certainly dovetail with Lovecraft’s fondness for cutting-edge-science as paradigm-shattering-relevations (See Dreams in the Witch House).
The Statement of Randolph Carter:
Short Spoilery Synopsis: This is a pretty laughably bad tale. Randolph is forbidden by his friend Harley Warren from going down into the crypt, and gets updates over telephone over how terrible it is, who at terrible length tells Carter to seal up the place. And then the monster answers the telephone.
Textual Effectiveness of Weaponry: None is used.
Can You fight the Thing in the Statement of Randolph Carter: Inconclusive. We have no idea what it is. Could be ghouls, could be Nylarthotep, could be Warren playing a prank.
The total so far:
Inconclusive, Leaning Yes: 5
Inconclusive, Leaning No: 6