Cool Air

"Cool Air" is a short story by the American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, written in March 1926 and published in the March 1928 issue of Tales of Magic and Mystery.

"Cool Air"
Tales of Magic and Mystery March 1928
AuthorH. P. Lovecraft
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Genre(s)Horror short story
Published inTales of Magic and Mystery
Publication typePeriodical
Media typePrint (magazine)
Publication dateMarch 1928

Plot

The narrator offers a story to explain why a "draught of cool air" is the most detestable thing to him. His tale begins in the spring of 1923, when he was looking for housing in New York City. He finally settles in a converted brownstone on West Fourteenth Street. Investigating a chemical leak from the floor above, he discovers that the inhabitant directly overhead is a strange, old, and reclusive physician. One day the narrator suffers a heart attack, and remembering that a doctor lives overhead, he climbs the stairs and meets Dr. Muñoz for the first time.

The doctor demonstrates supreme medical skill, and saves the narrator with a combination of medications. The fascinated narrator returns regularly to sit and learn from the doctor. As their talks continue, it becomes increasingly evident that the doctor has an obsession with defying death through all available means.

The doctor's room is kept at approximately 56 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius) using an ammonia-based refrigeration system; the pumps are driven by a gasoline engine. As time goes on, the doctor's health declines and his behaviour becomes increasingly eccentric. The cooling system is continuously upgraded, to the point where some areas of his rooms are sub-freezing, until one night when the pump breaks down.

Without explanation, the panic-stricken doctor frantically implores his friend to help him keep his body cool. Unable to repair the machine until morning, they resort to having the doctor stay in a tub full of ice. The narrator spends his time replenishing the ice, but soon is forced to employ someone else to do it. When he finally locates competent mechanics to repair the pump, it is too late.

He arrives at the apartment in time to see the rapidly decomposing remains of the doctor, and a rushed, "hideously smeared" letter. The narrator reads it; to his horror, he learns that Dr. Muñoz died 18 years previously. Refusing to surrender to death, he maintained the semblance of life past the point of death using various methods, depending upon refrigeration to retard decomposition.

Inspiration

Lovecraft wrote "Cool Air" during his unhappy stay in New York City, during which he wrote three horror stories with a New York setting. In "Lovecraft's New York Exile," David E. Schultz cites the contrast Lovecraft felt between his apartment, crammed with relics of his beloved New England, and the immigrant neighborhood of Red Hook in which he lived as an inspiration for the "unsettling juxtaposition of opposites" that characterizes the short story. Like the story's main character, Shultz suggests, Lovecraft, cut off from his native Providence, Rhode Island, felt himself to be just going through the motions of life.[1]

The building that is the story's main setting is based on a townhouse at 317 West 14th Street where George Kirk, one of Lovecraft's few New York friends, lived briefly in 1925.[2] The narrator's heart attack recalls that of another New York Lovecraft friend, Frank Belknap Long, who dropped out of New York University because of his heart condition.[3] The narrator's phobia about cool air is reminiscent of Lovecraft himself, who was abnormally sensitive to cold.[4]

Schultz indicates that "Cool Air"'s main literary source is Edgar Allan Poe's "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar", described as Lovecraft's favourite Poe story after "The Fall of the House of Usher". Lovecraft had just finished the Poe chapter of his survey "Supernatural Horror in Literature" at the time that he wrote the short story.[5] Lovecraft, however, stated years later that the story that inspired "Cool Air" was Arthur Machen's "The Novel of the White Powder", another tale of bodily disintegration.[6]

Characters

  • Doctor Muñoz: A Spanish physician of "striking intelligence and superior blood and breeding", he is described as "short but exquisitely proportioned", with a "high-bred face of masterful though not arrogant expression", "a short iron-grey full beard", "full, dark eyes" and "an aquiline nose".[7] He calls himself "the bitterest of sworn enemies to death", and one who had "sunk his fortune and lost all his friends in a lifetime of bizarre experiment devoted to its bafflement and extirpation."[8] Saying he feels a "repugnance" on first meeting Muñoz that "nothing in his aspect could justify", the narrator remarks on "the ice-coldness and shakiness of his bloodless looking hands" and that his breathing was imperceptible.[8]
An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopaedia suggests that Muñoz may have been modelled on Lovecraft's Brooklyn neighbour, "the fairly celebrated Dr. Love, State Senator and sponsor of the famous 'Clean Books bill' at Albany...evidently immune or unconscious of the decay."[9] This is presumably William L. Love, a Brooklyn physician and freemason who was a state senator from 1923 until 1932.[10]
  • The unnamed narrator who has come to New York to do "some dreary and unprofitable magazine work". He has drifted from one cheap boarding house to another before finding that the one on West Fourteenth Street "disgusted [him] much less than the others he had sampled."[11] After being treated by Muñoz, his upstairs neighbor, he becomes "a disciple and devotee of the gifted recluse".[12]

Reception

Submitted to Lovecraft's regular outlet, the pulp magazine Weird Tales, "Cool Air" was rejected by editor Farnsworth Wright, a decision that has been called "inexplicable...since it would appear to be just the sort of safe, macabre tale that he liked."[4] It's possible that Wright feared that "its gruesome conclusion would invite censorship".[13] Peter Cannon calls "Cool Air" Lovecraft's "best story with a New York setting", proving him "capable of using an understated, naturalistic style to powerful effect."[14]

Adaptations

  • Issue #62 of Warren Publishing's Eerie features a comic adaptation of "Cool Air" by Berni Wrightson. It was later reprinted several times, first by Warren, then by Pacific Comics.
  • The story "Baby... It's Cold Inside!" in EC Comics' Vault of Horror #17 is a loose comic adaptation of "Cool Air."
  • "Cool Air" has been adapted for film or television at least three times:
  • The 2007 horror/splatter film Chill directed by Serdge Rodnunsky is loosely based on "Cool Air".[18]
  • DC Comics' Elseworlds three-part story, Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham, adapted the character of Mr. Freeze into a role inspired by Dr. Muñoz of "Cool Air".
  • Blue Hours Productions has done an adaptation of "Cool Air" for its revival of the classic radio series Suspense, which began airing on Sirius XM Radio in Fall 2012. It features Adrienne Wilkinson and Daamen Krall, and was adapted by John C. Alsedek and Dana Perry-Hayes.
  • Lions Gate released (on May 21, 2013) an adaptation by Albert Pyun from a script by Cynthia Curnan. The film was entitled H. P. Lovecraft's Cool Air.[19][20]
  • The song "Cool Air" by American progressive rock band Glass Hammer is based on the story. It was originally released as a part of a 2012 collaborative album dedicated to Lovecraft titled The Stories of H.P. Lovecraft, and then as a part of their 2017 album Untold Tales.[21]
  • The first issue of Alan Moore's comic Providence draws heavily from "Cool Air".[22]

References

  1. ^ David E. Schultz, "Lovecraft's New York Exile", Black /lForbidden Things, p. 55.
  2. ^ S. T. Joshi and Peter Cannon, More Annotated Lovecraft, p. 159. As of 2006, the house was still standing.
  3. ^ Joshi and Cannon, p. 162.
  4. ^ a b Joshi and Cannon, p. 158.
  5. ^ Schultz, p. 55.
  6. ^ H. P. Lovecraft, letter to Henry Kuttner, July 29, 1936; cited in S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, "Cool Air", An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopaedia, p. 47.
  7. ^ Lovecraft, "Cool Air", pp. 201–202.
  8. ^ a b Lovecraft, "Cool Air", p. 202.
  9. ^ H. P. Lovecraft, letter to B. A. Dwyer, March 26, 1927; cited in Joshi and Schultz, p. 47.
  10. ^ "Index to Politicians: Love to Lovegrove", The Political Graveyard.
  11. ^ Lovecraft, "Cool Air", pp. 199-200.
  12. ^ Lovecraft, "Cool Air", p. 203.
  13. ^ Joshi and Schultz, p. 47.
  14. ^ Peter Cannon, "Introduction", More Annotated Lovecraft, p. 6.
  15. ^ Night Gallery: "Cool Air" on IMDb
  16. ^ Necronomicon on IMDb
  17. ^ Cool Air on IMDb
  18. ^ According to DVD case.
  19. ^ "Lionsgate's 'H.P. Lovecraft's Cool Air'. Dated For Home Video". Bloody Disgusting. March 5, 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
  20. ^ "H.P. Lovecraft's Cool Air Reinvents the Classic Horror Story". best-horror-movies.com. March 7, 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
  21. ^ "Cool Air". Glass Hammer. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  22. ^ Facts in the Case of Alan Moore's Providence: Providence 1

Sources

  • H. P. Lovecraft, "Cool Air", The Dunwich Horror and Others, Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, pp. 203–207.
  • Lovecraft, "Cool Air", More Annotated Lovecraft, S. T. Joshi and Peter Cannon, eds., New York: Dell, pp. 158–171.
  • David E. Schultz, "Lovecraft's New York Exile", Black Forbidden Things, Mercer Island, WA: Starmount House, p. 55.

External links

Air conditioning

Air conditioning (often referred to as AC, A/C, or air con) is the process of removing heat and moisture from the interior of an occupied space, to improve the comfort of occupants. Air conditioning can be used in both domestic and commercial environments. This process is most commonly used to achieve a more comfortable interior environment, typically for humans and other animals; however, air conditioning is also used to cool/dehumidify rooms filled with heat-producing electronic devices, such as computer servers, power amplifiers, and even to display and store some delicate products, such as artwork.

Air conditioners often use a fan to distribute the conditioned air to an occupied space such as a building or a car to improve thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Electric refrigerant-based AC units range from small units that can cool a small bedroom, which can be carried by a single adult, to massive units installed on the roof of office towers that can cool an entire building. The cooling is typically achieved through a refrigeration cycle, but sometimes evaporation or free cooling is used. Air conditioning systems can also be made based on desiccants (chemicals which remove moisture from the air) and subterraneous pipes that can distribute the heated refrigerant to the ground for cooling.In the most general sense, air conditioning can refer to any form of technology that modifies the condition of air (heating, (de-)humidification, cooling, cleaning, ventilation, or air movement). In common usage, though, "air conditioning" refers to systems which cool air. In construction, a complete system of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is referred to as HVAC.

Anticyclone

An anticyclone (that is, opposite to a cyclone) is a weather phenomenon defined by the United States National Weather Service's glossary as "a large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure, clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere". Effects of surface-based anticyclones include clearing skies as well as cooler, drier air. Fog can also form overnight within a region of higher pressure. Mid-tropospheric systems, such as the subtropical ridge, deflect tropical cyclones around their periphery and cause a temperature inversion inhibiting free convection near their center, building up surface-based haze under their base. Anticyclones aloft can form within warm core lows such as tropical cyclones, due to descending cool air from the backside of upper troughs such as polar highs, or from large scale sinking such as the subtropical ridge.

The evolution of an anticyclone depends on a few variables such as its size, intensity, moist-convection, Coriolis force etc .

Blanching (cooking)

Blanching is a cooking process wherein a food, usually a vegetable or fruit, is scalded in boiling water, removed after a brief, timed interval, and finally plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water (shocking or refreshing) to halt the cooking process. Blanching foods helps reduce quality loss over time. People often use blanching as a pre-treatment prior to freezing, drying, or canning—heating vegetables or fruits to inactivate enzymes, modify texture, remove the peel, and wilt tissue. Blanching is also utilized to preserve color, flavor, and nutritional value. The process has three stages: preheating, blanching, and cooling. The most common blanching methods for vegetables/fruits are hot water and steam, while cooling is either done using cold water or cool air. Other benefits of blanching include removing pesticide residues and decreasing microbial load. Drawbacks to the blanching process can include leaching of water-soluble and heat sensitive nutrients and the production of effluent.

Chill (film)

Chill is a 2007 horror film written and directed by Serge Rodnunsky and starring Thomas Calabro, Ashley Laurence, Shaun Kurtz, and James Russo.

Climate of Ecuador

The climate of Ecuador varies by region, due to differences in elevation and, to a degree, in proximity to the equator.

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Cold air intake

A cold air intake (CAI) is usually an aftermarket assembly of parts used to bring relatively cool air into a car's internal-combustion engine.

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Cool Air, KwaZulu-Natal

Cool Air is a town in Umgungundlovu District Municipality in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.

Cool Air (film)

Cool Air is a 1999 black-and-white horror film directed by and starring Bryan Moore, and co-starring Jack Donner, with cinematography by Michael Bratkowski. It is based on the short story "Cool Air" by H. P. Lovecraft.This film is the start of a multi-volume series called The H.P. Lovecraft Collection. The series is supposed to feature the best of the films submitted at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

Deep ocean water

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Hood scoop

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Ice Mountain

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Mountain breeze and valley breeze

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Necronomicon (film)

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The prompter (Fr., Ger. souffleur; It. rammentatore, suggeritore) in an opera house gives the singers the opening words of each phrase a few seconds early. Prompts are mouthed silently or hurled lyrically in a half-voice, audible (hopefully) only on stage. (This is in contrast to the prompter in a theatre who aids actors who have forgotten their words or lines.)

Opera prompters are traditionally housed in a stuffy wooden box at the center-front edge of the stage, above the orchestra pit. They are visible to the performers and no one else. Technology has brought cool air and small display screens, among other advances, to support their work.

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Relative humidity

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Variable air volume

Variable air volume (VAV) is a type of heating, ventilating, and/or air-conditioning (HVAC) system. Unlike constant air volume (CAV) systems, which supply a constant airflow at a variable temperature, VAV systems vary the airflow at a constant temperature. The advantages of VAV systems over constant-volume systems include more precise temperature control, reduced compressor wear, lower energy consumption by system fans, less fan noise, and additional passive dehumidification.

Vertical draft

An updraft is a small‐scale current of rising air, often within a cloud.

Zayed National Museum

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