Friday, July 7, 2017

Adapting Clark Ashton Smith's 'Marooned in Andromeda' To The 'Old Solar System' Campaign Setting"

"I'm going to put you fellows off on the first world of the first planetary system we come to."
The icy deliberation of Captain Volmar's tones was more terrible than any show of anger would have been. His eyes were chill and sharp as the sapphire lights in snow; and there was a fanatic rigor in the tightening of his lips after the curtly spoken words.

The three mutineers looked sullenly at each other and at the captain, but said nothing. The leveled automatics of Volmar and the three other members of the space-flier's crew made all appeal or argument seem absurd. They knew that there could be no relenting on the part of that thin, austere mariner of the interstellar gulfs, who had dreamt of circumnavigating space and thus becoming the Magellan of the constellations.

For five years he had driven the great vessel further and further away from the earth and the solar system, which had long ago dwindled into points of telescopic light — for five years he had hurled it onward at more than the speed of cosmic rays, through the shoreless, bottomless night, among the shifting stars and nebulae. The configuration of the skies had changed beyond all recognition; the Signs were no longer those that are known to terrestrial astronomers; far-off stars had leapt into blazing suns and had faded back to stars; and there had been a flying glimpse of stranger planets. And year by year the cold terror of the endless deeps, the vertiginous horror of untold infinitude, had crept like a slow paralysis upon the souls of the three men; and a nostalgia for the distant earth had swept them with unutterable sickness; till they could bear it no longer, and had made their hasty, ill-planned attempt to secure control of the vessel and turn it homeward.

This issue of Wonder Stories marks the first appearance of Clark Ashton Smith's
"Captain Volmar" sequence which is really interesting because these stories have about them a weird almost but not quite original Star Trek quality about them.

"Smith's novelette "Marooned in Andromeda", the first entry in his "Captain Volmar" sequence, was the cover story in the October 1930 issue of Wonder Stories. illustrated by Frank R. Paul"" 
Right off the bat you've got a crew that is about ready to mutiny as their going beyond the solar system deep into the darkness of the Clark Ashton Smith solar system. There's a lot of the alieniness of this story that we'd see later on in his Hyperborea, Poseidonis & Zothique story cycle.  Especially in  Clark Ashton Smith's  Zothique sequence .
Yet once again we're seeing the fact that mankind is a later comer to the outer reaches of space, there's a sense in "Marooned in Andromeda" that the aliens mutineers encounter are the remains of a long dead alien empire.
The Raul artwork from this issue explains it all really. The mutineers are about to be sacrificed to some ancient alien horror. And these spacers are perfectly made in the PC mode.

There actually is quite a bit going on here and some great stuff for the dungeon master to mine for an old school solar system. The alien pygmies encountered in this story hate humans right off the bat & that lends some interesting weight to something that a friend & I were discussing yesterday. That these aliens might have been servants for Serpent Men, Hyperboreans or other star faring Lovcraftian races. There's a consistency to the worlds of Clark Ashton Smith at we see in other Lovecraft circle writers including Lovecraft himself. The world they describe is 105.5 light years from Earth's solar system and the world is rife for exploration & exploitation by DM's. This is a perfect world for space explorers to adventure on especially those of the Leigh Brackett & C.L. Moore mode. 

Parts of this novella I was reminded of  Leigh Brackett's Thralls of the Endless Night & Marooned On Io. Out in the depths of space are the ruins & remains of the Hyperborean empires that have fallen into rot because the interstellar infrastructure has completely disappeared. Mankind is just starting to reach out into the Outer Darkness & there are still things out there.
I'm really reminded of Clark Ashton Smith's The Door Into SaturnThe alien ecology, odd Lovecraftian entities, & the utter remoteness of this little world that almost kills this stories characters. 
There's a feeling here of absolute horror waiting for the captain & his crew later on. This is a basically a beginning level adventure of a science fiction campaign waiting to happen.  Does all of this tie back into my own observations on "Adapting “Outpost on Io” By Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore's North West Smith To The 'Old Solar System' Campaign Setting" 

Are there other remains within our own solar system where other much earlier races have tread in this C.L. Moore style North West Smith universe? Yes I think so. "Captain Volmar"& his crew of intrepid explorers are the ones who are leaping into the Black Void but its going to be the North West Smiths who exploit it & smuggle around it later on.

"Marooned in Andromeda" is quite short & can easily be read on the Eldritch Dark Website.

Personally I like to dig my claws into the the original Wonder Stories, October 1930, with "Marooned in Andromeda," by Clark Ashton in pdf!
You can download 
Wonder Stories, October 1930, with "Marooned in Andromeda," by Clark Ashton Here For Free

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.