Aliens vs Cats On The Moon!
By the Author
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath is a stunning example of why Lovecraft should have always stuck with short stories and why everything is better with cats.
If you have read many Lovecraft short stories, you will recognize characters from earlier stories. Nyarlathotep is the main antagonist, the main character is Randolph Carter from Pickman’s Model, he goes through Ulthar, a town from a different short story of his, and so on.
Basic Idea and Padding
Be that as it may, what is this particular story about? It’s simple: Randy has a dream of a city called Kadath and he vows to go there. He needs permission from the Other Gods to do this, so he has to go back and forth across various cities, finagle the help of a variety of weird creatures, and wage war on some aliens. Eventually, Nyarlathotep directs him straight to Vega, the star, to be destroyed by the music of Azthoth, and Randy jumps off his ride because Kadath was his childhood whimsy made manifest all along. He wakes up and all is right with him.
It was written in 1927. We are well past spoiler territory.
This is all well and good, but it is made longer by constantly using the adjective-laden title of every city and being. Kadath is always the Unknown Kadath, the aliens are always the noisome moonbeasts, etc.
He and I are also all about the landscape porn. Every city’s great temples are described (he loved onyx; every building is made of onyx.) Every city and ‘forgotten secret’ ruin (there are many of these) is given in detail.
It isn’t so terrible that it takes over the story. There is enough happening to justify most of the word count, but…
Randy is involved in two wars by wanting to rescue two sets of friends. These wars are summarized with a bird’s eye view.
Cats On The Moon!
The best part came about a third of the way through the book. The moonbeasts kidnap Randy and take him to the moon. They are about to throw him before the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep when an army of Earth cats come swinging to his rescue and kill all the moonbeasts.
Go, Kitty, go!
See, he was nice to a kitten in Ulthar, and the kitten’s grandfather decided to rescue him for this.
Verging on Gary Stu Territory
The cats war on the Zoogs were the clearest example of author bias coming through. A Zoog looked hungrily at a kitten once, so the cats eat the Zoogs, and easily beat the Zoogs in a war when the Zoogs want revenge.
The other wars are also over quickly in Randy’s favor and there is always a quick explanation of how he knows how to talk to some totally alien creature we just met. He teaches the ghouls to row a galley, even though he never rows one in the book.
Yeah. It’s like that.
If you take it for the dream that it is supposed to be, it’s ok. There’s no dialogue, but there are plenty of archaic words to look up. At least it isn’t on Earth, so he doesn’t have the chance to snipe at rural poor folks.