Reading was surrounded in fog and snow as my train chugged from London into its’ station. The Central Library is a modern four-storey affair, reputedly built on the site of an ancient abbey.
In the entrance to the second floor reference section musician and author Chris Lambert had created an ambient installation under his Music for Zombies nom-de-tune. For more information go to www.chrislambert.net
The event started at noon with Gwilym Games (editor of the Friends of Arthur Machen newsletter Machenalia – www.machensoc.demon.co.uk) delivering a talk on the importance of libraries in the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Academic and occultist Dr. David Evans then joined Gwilym to discuss the Necronomicon in Lovecraft and the various created versions. I had hoped that Reading’s David Langford might have been present to offer some reminiscences about the George Hay version to which he had contributed a chapter. (I had first heard of the event via Langford’s Ansible, but unfortunately he did not attend). This section of the day ended with Dave Evans talking about Kenneth Grant (head of the Typhonian OTO) who has incorporated much Lovecraftian imagery into his rituals. Much of the talk about Grant is also covered in his excellent study of modern British occultism, The History of British Magic after Crowley. Dr. Evans also mentioned that the library is built over a river that runs through a tunnel underneath.
During both the first and second breaks podcasts were played from such drama producers as: -
Cast Macabre (castmacabre.org);
Drabblecast Audio Fiction (web.me.com/normsherman);
Dunesteef Audio Fiction (dunesteef.com);
Escape Pod (escapepod.org);
And Pseudopod (pseudopod.org)
The second section started with myself performing some poetry including Poe’s The City in the Sea and Lovecraft’s St. Toad's as well as some of my own. This was followed by Gwilym giving an illustrated talk upon an expedition to Devon in search of Lovecraft’s ancestors and the influence they might have had upon his writing. Then the author John Llewellyn Probert (Wicked Delights and other books – www.johnprobert.com) read extracts from a Siberian-set novel that features a lake filled with curious creatures.
The third section of the day started again with myself performing some poetry, and then two short animated films – Terrible Old Man and Statement of Randolf Carter – made by Eldritch Animation were shown. These, and I have to say they were very well done, are available (apparently) on You Tube. www.eldritchanimation.com
John and Gwilym then discussed Lovecraftian cinema (accompanied by showing various trailers) both direct adaptations (such as the 1970’s The Dunwich Horror and the more recent Dagon) and others that have only taken on the spirit of Lovecraft (Caltiki, Quatermass and the Pit, In the Mouth of Madness, etc.) Mulled wine and gingerbread snowmen – without icing snow – followed and then the audience, that had swelled to over fifty during the day, enjoyed HPLHS’ silent movie adaptation of The Call of Cthulhu. This was defiantly enjoyed by all and we look forward to their forthcoming Whisper in the Darkness, the trailer for which was shown in the previous panel. www.cthulhulives.org
In these days of cutbacks and budget constraints it was good that a library service not only took the chance to try something like this but also that it succeeded so well.