Lovecraft’s Warning: The Other Gods

Another of Lovecraft’s short stories, this one was published in 1933 in the pioneering fantasy fan fiction magazine “The Fantasy Fan“.

To me, the story is a clear metaphor for science in today’s world, and how our advancement of science and its explanatory power causes our various gods to retreat to the shrinking gaps in our knowledge, and a warning against the dangers and madness of believers fanatically pursuing these gods into those diminishing gaps. In Lovecraft’s version, though, the gods are driven to a single mountain, Hatheg-Kla, closer to the heavens in which they reside.

The gods have been largely abandoned by man, and the gods no longer interact with man, choosing instead to keep themselves company on this mountaintop.

The story is of Barzai the Wise, and his acolyte Atal, and their quest to scale Hatheg-Kla, to cast their eyes upon the gods who reside there.  Barzai has spent a lifetime studying the gods, their legends, and their habits, and has become well known as a priest, scholar and prophet. Atal is his young protege who struggles to keep up with Barzai as his excitement overtakes him.

As Barzai and Atal approach the summit, Barzai gets all he hoped for, and much more, gradually descending into madness as he ascends the mountain. Atal flees in terror and lives to tell the tale of how Barzai met not the gods he sought, but The Other Gods.

The Other Gods is told from two perspectives. It begins as a detached narrative, and slips into a chronicle, told by Atal.  The story also seems to be a condensed retake of a novella entitled “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” written in 1926-27, but not published until 1943.

This is a very fast read, only about 10 minutes, at under 2000 words, and is an enjoyable distraction for a rainy day.  This is in the public domain in countries where the copyright is lifetime +70 years. There are not a lot of resources for this available online.

Download the e-book at Feedbooks
Read the text at hplovecraft.com

3 thoughts on “Lovecraft’s Warning: The Other Gods

  1. OK, brace yourself. I must admit to a shameful flaw in my book-loving past: I have never read a Lovecraft story. Never ever.
    [-(
    But I can see that I will soon be adding some Lovecraft to my TBR pile. Thank you, Dileas.

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