There was snow in Providence yesterday evening, but the ground wasn't frozen, and it didn't stick. In the night, it changed over to rain.
Sometime just before I awoke, I dreamt of collecting fossils on Mars. I very, very frequently dream of collecting fossils, but usually the terran variety. In this dream, however, I was on Mars, in a very lightweight spacesuit. There was someone with me, but I can't recall now if it was someone I know in my waking life or not. We were walking a long river valley, a sort of braided river valley, which ran north to south (and the Ares Vallis comes to mind). Anyway, the ground was a very light grey, almost purple in places, a weathered clay or mudstone or siltstone of some sort. I came upon a small rise in the old riverbed (or flood channel) where an amazingly rich bone bed was exposed. The fossil bone was almost the same color as the stone, though I recall the unweathered parts being purplish and the more weathered surfaces being almost white. All the bones were disarticulated, but looked as though they'd come from Martian analogs of Late Paleozoic sarcopterygians and temnospondyls. Mostly, there were isolated skull bones: frontals, parietals, postorbitals, squamosals, parasphenoids, jugals, etc. I was elated to have come so unexpectedly upon such a wealth of bones, and was bagging them as quickly as possible. Whoever the person with me was, he or she was trying to get me to hurry, as we'd been away from the habitat too long, and there was concern about cosmic rays. Something like that. Still, I managed to fill two specimen bags. Marvelous dream. Maybe this is my subconscious telling me to get back to work on The Dinosaurs of Mars.
The last two days are a blur of editing The Red Tree. The good news, though, is that the ms. has to be back in Manhattan by Monday, so this can only possibly continue another four days, at the worst. Though I hopefully suspect that there's only two days work left to be done. I just got an email from Sonya (sovay), who very kindly went through and found all the quotes within the text, quotes from other works. They're all either "fair use" or quotes from works in the public domain (and most are the latter), but I have to provide documentation for each quote for legal at Penguin. Writing all that up will likely require a day. Yeah, see what fun shit authors get to do? And that will be that, at least until the CEM. But, this time, Spooky will be handling the CEM for me, mostly, so that's a relief. She can write "stet" as well as I can ("stet" is a proofreaders mark, Latin for "let it stand," and when one wishes to disregard a copyeditor's mark, one writes "stet" in the margin of the page. My CEMs get hundreds and hundreds of "stets").
The eBay auctions continue. Thanks to everyone who has bid thus far. Take a look. Bid if you are able and interested.
One of the many things that needed doing in this round of editing The Red Tree required that I read Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear" again. It's really one of the most atrociously written of HPL's stories, and a testament to how stupendously his writing improved from the early 1920s to the early and mid-1930s. Anyway, yeah, I had to read back over the story on Tuesday, because there's a line from it that I'd been trying to recall, that I wanted to use for one of Sarah Crowe's novels (Sarah is the protagonist of The Red Tree). I last read the story back in June, when we were driving up from Atlanta; while we were driving through the Catskills, in fact. And I found this one line, and I thought, That would make a great title for one of Sarah's novels. But, I didn't mark it. Hence the need for a re-read. However, halfway through the story on Tuesday, I could take no more, had not found the line, and decided that The Ark of Poseidon would remain The Ark of Poseidon. I did, however, rediscover a very interesting thing.
I have argued in the past that Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House (1959) owes a considerable debt to Lovecraft, in particular to "The Dreams in the Witch House." But I can also point to a passage in "The Lurking Fear." At the end of Chapter Five of The Haunting of Hill House, Eleanor and Theo experience another harrowing visit to their bedroom by the entity that "walked there" in Hill House. In her terror, Eleanor reaches out and takes Theo's hand, and she squeezes it tightly. At the very end of the chapter, however, the lights come up, and Nell discovers that she couldn't have been holding Theo's hand, after all, as Theo is still across the room in her own bed. Jackson writes:
"What?" Theodora was saying. "What, Nell? What?"
"God god," Eleanor said, flinging herself out of bed and across the room to stand shuddering in a corner, "God god — whose hand was I holding?"
In "The Lurking Fear," HPL's protagonist has an almost identical experience when he and two companions spend a night at the Martense mansion on Tempest Mountain. Three men fall asleep in one bed. The narrator is in the middle. Though in a sort of fever dream, he is distinctly aware that one of his companions, at one point, throws an arm across the narrator's chest. Then he awakes to find both men dead and horribly mutilated. HPL writes:
Something had lain between me and the window that night, but I shuddered whenever I could not cast off the instinct to classify it. If it had only snarled, or bayed, or laughed titteringly — even that would have relieved the abysmal hideousness. But it was so silent. It had rested a heavy arm or fore leg on my chest...
Last night, Spooky and I watched Ridley Scott's Body of Lies, which I wish I'd been able to see in the theatre. I thought it was splendid. And it occurred to me that, unlike the Vietnam War, the great movies about America's war against Middle Eastern nations are being made right now, while the events are still unfolding. Which is an interesting state of affairs. Of course, history could always prove me wrong. Maybe the Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan Apocalypse Now won't be made until 2020 or so.
There. A nice long entry of substance, despite the insomnia. Screw you, "micro-blogging."