Monday, 20 March 2017

'My World Has No Memories'

After an 'old dark house by the graveyard' story, another favourite sub-genre gets an outing in Written in Darkness. This time it's the nautical weird tale, exemplified by authors as diverse as Lovecraft, Hodgson, and Conan Doyle.

Mark Samuels' take on the idea is to have his protagonist wake up in the cabin of a sailing vessel. The first person narrator has no memories, and finds himself unable to contact anyone via radio. The GPS is not working either. But there is an odd marine entity in a jar in the cabin. A thing like 'a monstrous flower the size of a grapefruit'. A whiff of the entity's odour conjures strange visions.

The narrator speculates that he set out on this yacht alone to avoid some global cataclysm. This might explain the failure of all technology. But the thing in the jar bothers him, especially as it seems to be trying to communicate telepathically in a way that threaten's the seafarer's sanity. So he throws it overboard. And it comes back. Then bloated human corpses start rising from the deep. Not just any old corpses, either. The narrator has seen that rotting face before, in the mirror.

As you'll have gathered, this is another tale of abject nihilism. The finale does not see the narrator finding himself in Plymouth and getting home in time for tea. Again, then, Samuels insists on the essential inhumanity of the universe, and the inability of a 'normal' man to cope with cosmic reality.

Sleep tight. More soon.


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