Friday 16 June 2017

Narrative Rebellion: Dark Universe - The Mummy

You know, I think Universal are doing this whole Universal Monsters Shared Universe Reboot backwards: we're thinking of the classical Universal monsters (Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, the Mummy, the Wolfman, Gillman), when there are a wealth of characters in classic Universal films that could be introduced too.

My thinking is that everyone is perfectly familiar with the major characters and the original stories, and we've seen them fighting each other all the time. So, rather than build up to something we've already scene dozens of times, why not start with that, and build up to something else? I keep going back to Kong: Skull Island's wonderfully cosmically-horrific quote:
You heard of the U.S.S. Lautmann? Neither did the public. Out of a thousand young men on that ship I was the only survivor. They told my family she was sunk in battle but I know what I saw. It had no conscience. No reasoning. Just destroy. I spent the last 30 year trying to prove the truth of what I learned that day. This planet doesn't belong to us. Ancient species owned this Earth long before mankind, and if we keep our heads buried in the sand they will take it back.
 - Bill Randa, Kong: Skull Island

Howard fans may find that quote tantalisingly familiar:
A Key! Aye, it is a Key, symbol of a forgotten horror. That horror has faded into the limbo from which it crawled, loathsomely, in the black dawn of the earth. But what of the other fiendish possibilities hinted at by Von Junzt--what of the monstrous hand which strangled out his life? Since reading what Selim Bahadur wrote, I can no longer doubt anything in the Black Book. Man was not always master of the earth - and is he now?

And the thought recurs to me - if such a monstrous entity as the Master of the Monolith somehow survived its own unspeakably distant epoch so long - what nameless shapes may even now lurk in the dark places of the world?
 - The Narrator, "The Black Stone," Robert E. Howard
And on the concept of a Universe of Monsters? Well, there's another Howard quote that comes to mind:

“Through the dim corridors of memory those words lurk... For that phrase has come secretly down the grim and bloody eons, since when, uncounted centuries ago, those words were watch-words for the race of men who battled with the grisly beings of the Elder Universe...”
... for an instant he seemed to gaze back through the vastness that spanned life and life; seeing through the vague and ghostly fogs dim shapes reliving dead centuries — men in combat with hideous monsters, vanquishing a planet of frightful terrors. Against a gray, ever-shifting background moved strange nightmare forms, fantasies of lunacy and fear; and man, the jest of the gods, the blind, wisdom-less striver from dust to dust, following the long bloody trail of his destiny, knowing not why, bestial, blundering, like a great murderous child, yet feeling somewhere a spark of divine fire... 
“They are gone,” said Brule, as if scanning his secret mind; “the bird-women, the harpies, the bat-men, the flying fiends, the wolf-people, the demons, the goblins — all save such as this being that lies at our feet, and a few of the wolf-men. Long and terrible was the war, lasting through the bloody centuries, since first the first men, risen from the mire of apedom, turned upon those who then ruled the world.”

“And at last mankind conquered, so long ago that naught but dim legends come to us through the ages. The snake-people were the last to go, yet at last men conquered even them and drove them forth into the waste lands of the world, there to mate with true snakes until some day, say the sages, the horrid breed shall vanish utterly. Yet the Things returned in crafty guise as men grew soft and degenerate, forgetting ancient wars. Ah, that was a grim and secret war! Among the men of the Younger Earth stole the frightful monsters of the Elder Planet, safeguarded by their horrid wisdom and mysticisms, taking all forms and shapes, doing deeds of horror secretly. No man knew who was true man and who false. No man could trust any man. Yet by means of their own craft they formed ways by which the false might be known from the true... So mankind triumphed. Yet again the fiends came after the years of forgetfulness had gone by — for man is still an ape in that he forgets what is not ever before his eyes...

 - Robert E. Howard, "The Shadow Kingdom"

Now, I am by no means an expert on the Universal Monsters canon: I have watched many of them and enjoyed them a great deal, but I hope folk will forgive me for not having the exhaustive knowledge of this wide subject such a project really deserves. Nonetheless, inspired by my fellow Brad Ellison, I knew I had to write something. So, for the purposes of fun, I had some musings over what I would do were I the creative director of a prospective Dark Universe, taking elements from Robert E. Howard, Arthur Conan Doyle, and other classic adventure authors...

Saturday 10 June 2017

Robert E. Howard in Scots: "Adventurer"

With Scotland and its future being predominant in my life at this stage, a great deal of that focus has been on Scottish culture and language. In particular, I've been looking deeper into the Scots language itself. I look at all the fine translations of great works into a multitude of languages, and think: why not Scots?

So while I'm absconded from my friends in Cross Plains and the world of Robert E. Howard, I think there's no better way to keep that connection alive than to continue translating Howard into the mither leid.

So, here's the latest. Hoping all my friends in Cross Plains have a wonderful adventure!