The Intergalactic Nemesis

It’s a bird. . .it’s a plane. . .it’s a radio program. . .it’s a comic book. A LARGE comic book. Uhhh. . .what is it, actually?

The Intergalactic Nemesis is a stage production created by a group calling itself The Robot Planet. I saw this production last year at Durham, NC’s Carolina Theater, and since then, The Intergalactic Nemesis appears to be going strong.

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So what is this strange experience like? You go into a theater and take your seat. Hovering above the stage is a gigantic screen. Below, onstage, four or five enormous radio-style stand-up microphones are situated, with voice actors stationed at them. To one side stands a truly ingenious audio-effects specialist.

The show begins. Gigantic comic book panels are projected onto the gigantic screen, while the voice actors act out (duh) all the voices. Meanwhile, the special effects person does her amazing, remarkable thing. It’s a trip.

Content? The play (if that’s what you’d call it) is titled The Intergalactic Nemesis: Book One: Target Earth. It’s all about giant bugs attacking the earth, and the end of all humanity, except that one man stands between us and Bug-a-geddon, mild-mannered librarian Timmy Menendez. . .well. . . the plot is murky. But it’s a ton of fun.

The audience is fun, too. I might have been the only one present who was not wearing a cape. Or some other Zygonian-appropriate attire. I was also one of the oldest people in the theater. A friend of mine knew I would love this. . .thing. . . and took me to it. Ahhh, there’s no nerd like an old nerd.

See for yourself: http://www.theintergalacticnemesis.com/

All Hallows’ Eve, by Charles Williams, Inkling

Charles Williams in the 1930s

Happy Halloween! ‘Tis the season to remember Charles Williams, especially his novel All Hallows’ Eve, set as it is on the night before All Saints Day. All Saints Day, aka All Hallows Day (saint=holy=hallowed), is the day the Church sets aside to honor her special heroes. But All Hallows Eve, the night before, carries a very different odor. All Hallows Day is celebrated on Nov. 1st. That puts the celebration of All Hallows Eve on Oct. 31st. That’s right. All Hallows Eve is Halloween (“een”=evening=eve). And All Hallows Eve, Halloween, is the last day all the evil-doers are allowed to come out to play–ghouls, goblins, witches, warlocks, succubi, incubi, demons of all sorts–before they are chased back into their crypts, tombs, graves, cemetaries, columbaria, coffins by the heroic saints.

A novelist, editor, and student of spirituality, Williams wrote ground-breaking fantasy fiction from the 1930s until his death in 1945, often on occult themes. J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Williams, and a number of other literary friends met frequently at an Oxford pub, The Eagle and Child, fondly known to them as the Bird and Baby. Their group, informally called The Inklings, shared their fantasy writing after their day jobs were done (Tolkien: the most prestigious professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford; Lewis: the most prestigious professor of Renaissance literature at Oxford; Williams: an editor at Oxford University Press; etc.). Photo of Williams, right, taken from the George Macdonald web site, http://georgemacdonald.info/williams.html.

Of the three Inklings most well known for fantasy fiction, Williams is the least well-known. Everyone knows about Tolkien even if they haven’t read him; many know about Lewis–if not for his fantasy Narnia series or his ground-breaking scholarship, then for his Christian apologetics, which have ironically turned him into a virtual saint of the Religious Right. Williams is rarely read today, though. His novels are a heady (some would say loopy) mixture of theosophism, Anglicanism, and the occult. I personally find them too preachy, but they are always interesting. All Hallows’ Eve, written in 1945 and shared with fellow Inklings just before Williams’s death, is no exception, having to do with ghosts, black magic, suffering, and divine love.

So. . .happy Halloween! Happy All Hallows Eve, Charles, wherever you may be.

John Henry Fuseli (Johann Heinrich Füssli), THE NIGHTMARE, 1781, on exhibit at the Institute of Fine Arts, Detroit.
This is a faithful photographic reproduction of an original two-dimensional work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain.

Where’s Cthulhu?

Sometime in the late summer or early fall of 1926, H. P. Lovecraft wrote his most famous work of horror fiction, The Call of Cthulhu. Cthulhu was an ugly crouching clay idol that the narrator, in the first chapter (“The Horror in Clay”), describes this way: “My somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature…. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings.” Elsewhere in his fiction, Lovecraft proved to be fascinated by ugly pieces of statuary that he thought symbolized “primitive” cultures. From his pages, Cthulhu made his way out into the popular imagination.

See, for example, what some adventurers found deep in the jungle of the Feerrot, in the fetid cellar of the dread Temple of Cazic Thule on the planet Norrath:

That’s an ugly clay idol, all right, but is it Cthulhu? How about this squid-headed guy?

Have you spotted Cthulhu on your planet lately?

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