From Beyond is perhaps one of my favorite HPL stories. It is among the few stories that really expertly blend science fiction with weird horror. Often it is this story I think of more than the mythos stories that defines Lovecraft in my mind.
Told from the first person, From Beyond is a story about scientific exploration into the power of the mind. But sometimes there is a deep price for such breakthrough research. Tapping into the unlocked power of the pineal gland (perhaps a satirical dig at the ideas of Descartes), scientist Crawford Tillinghast discovers an unseen dimension hidden within the world we see and experience. This pocket universe is inhabited by strange unfathomable creatures. This is a theme that Lovecraft would continue to explore in many more stories. Many would say his later explorations were much better crafted and written. They are correct, but it all had to start somewhere, and while not as well written, From Beyond holds a more influential spot in HPL's career.
From Beyond is melodramatic and filled with the style so infused in his early writings, but that is no reason to write it off completely. He explores some new and interesting ideas of science and philosophy that he had not previously addressed. It is this fusion of scientific horror that Lovecraft would be so fondly loved for.
The influences of this story can be felt in many different media, from rock and metal songs adapted from it, to the splattery scifi horror film From Beyond, adapted by Stuart Gordon. Unseen dimensional creatures even show up in an episode of Stargate and Charles Stross often incorporates into his novels a machine he calls "the Tillinghast resonator" that allows humans to see these hidden entities. This story may even be the ultimate inspiration for interdimensional aliens and an infamously controversial crank phone call.
But most importantly, From Beyond, for me, starts the true dive into Lovecraftian fiction that this experiment is all about. I set out to read all of Lovecraft's works in order. For me, this is where it really starts.
If you want to experience the true start of our plunge into Lovecraft and his interdimensional horrors, you can check out the full text here: HPL's From Beyond
|Illustration by Jeff Powers © 2013|