The Hyperborean cycle is a series of short stories by Clark Ashton Smith that take place in the fictional prehistoric setting of Hyperborea. Smith's cycle takes cues from his friends, H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard and their works. Lovecraft wrote to Smith in a letter dated 3 December 1929: "I must not delay in expressing my well-nigh delirious delight at The Tale of Satampra Zeiros [Smith's short story]... [W]hat an atmosphere! I can see & feel & smell the jungle around immemorial Commoriom, which I am sure must lie buried today in glacial ice near Olathoe, in the Land of Lomar!". Soon afterward, Lovecraft included Smith's Tsathoggua (which originally appeared in "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros") in the story "The Mound", ghostwritten for Zelia Reed (Zelia Bishop) in December 1929. Lovecraft also mentioned Tsathoggua in "The Whisperer in Darkness", which he began on February 24, 1930. Because Smith in turn borrowed numerous Lovecraftian elements, the cycle itself may be regarded as a branch of the Cthulhu Mythos. In a letter to August Derleth dated 26 July 1944, Smith wrote: "In common with other weird tales writers, I have ... made a few passing references (often under slightly altered names, such as Iog-Sotot for Yog-Sothoth and Kthulhut for Cthulhu) to some of the Lovecraftian deities. My Hyperborean tales, it seems to me, with their primordial, prehuman and sometimes premundane background and figures, are the closest to the Cthulhu Mythos, but most of them are written in a vein of grotesque humor that differentiates them vastly. However, such a tale as "The Coming of the White Worm" might be regarded as a direct contribution to the Mythos.".
The Hyperborean cycle mixes cosmic horror with an Iron Age setting. Adding to the peril is the rapidly approaching ice age, which threatens to wipe out all life on the Hyperborean continent. A host of other deities play important roles in the cycle; foremost is the toad-god Tsathoggua, who dwells in Mount Voormithadreth.
Hyperborea is a legendary continent in the Arctic. Before it was overwhelmed by the advancing ice sheets of the Pleistocene age, Hyperborea was a warm and fertile paradise, with lush jungles inhabited by the last remnants of the dinosaurs. A race of yeti-like bipeds, known as the Voormi, once populated Hyperborea, but were wiped out by the pre-human settlers who migrated here from the south. These pre-humans built the first capital of Hyperborea, at Commoriom. Later they moved to Uzuldaroum, when prophesies foretold of Commoriom's doom.
[H]e described a sort of pool with a margin of mud that was marled with obscene offal; and in the pool a grayish, horrid mass that nearly choked it from rim to rim... Here, it seemed, was the ultimate source of all miscreation and abomination. For the gray mass quobbed and quivered, and swelled perpetually; and from it, in manifold fission, were spawned the anatomies that crept away on every side through the grotto. There were things like bodiless legs or arms that flailed in the slime, or heads that rolled, or floundering bellies with fishes' fins; and all manner of things malformed and monstrous, that grew in size as they departed from the neighborhood of Abhoth. And those that swam not swiftly ashore when they fell into the pool from Abhoth, were devoured by mouths that gaped in the parent bulk.
—Clark Ashton Smith, The Seven Geases
Abhoth ("The Source of Uncleanliness") resides in the cavern of Y'quaa beneath Mount Voormithadreth. It is a horrid, dark gray protean mass and is said to be the ultimate source of all miscreation and abomination.
Obscene monsters constantly form in Abhoth's gray mass and crawl away from their parent. No two of Abhoth's children are alike. In general, they are complex life forms, but the majority of them are simple-minded, acting on impulse. Their forms can be anything from amorphous blobs and singular body parts, to queer humanoids and monstrous mutants. Abhoth's tentacles and limbs grab many of them, pulling them back and devouring them. Most of those that escape simply wander off, only a few of them tend to their sire's needs. Abhoth has a twisted and cynical mind, and can communicate telepathically with others near him.
Abhoth is also mentioned in Colin Wilson's The Mind Parasites.
Atlach-Nacha resembles a huge spider with an almost-human face. It dwells within a huge cavern deep beneath Mount Voormithadreth, a mountain in the now vanished kingdom of Hyperborea in the Arctic. There it spins a gigantic web, bridging a massive chasm between the Dreamlands and the waking world. Some believe that when the web is complete, the end of the world will come, because it will create a permanent junction with the Dreamlands, allowing monsters to move freely into the waking world.
Atlach-Nacha probably came to Earth from the planet Cykranosh (or Saturn as we know it today) with Tsathoggua. Because of its appearance, Atlach-Nacha is often referred to as the Spider-God(dess) and is believed to be the regent of all spiders. Furthermore, the giant, bloated purple spiders of Leng are thought to be its children and servitors.
There is some disagreement about its gender. In Smith's original story, Atlach-Nacha is referred to as a male, but in later stories by other authors, it is implied to be a female.
Rlim Shaikorth appears as a huge whitish worm with a gaping maw, and eyes made of dripping globules of blood. One of Rlim Shaikorth's avatars is known as the White Worm and is part of Smith's Hyperborean cycle.
The White Worm travels on a gigantic iceberg called Yikilth, which it can guide across the ocean. In its colossal ice-citadel, the White Worm prowls the seas, blasting ships and inhabited land masses with extreme cold. Victims of the White Worm are frozen solid, their bodies appearing eerily white, and remain preternaturally cold—they will not melt nor warm even when exposed to fire. (The Coming of the White Worm, 1941)
There, in the grey beginning of Earth, the formless mass that was Ubbo-Sathla reposed amid the slime and the vapors. Headless, without organs or members, it sloughed from its oozy sides, in a slow, ceaseless wave, the amoebic forms that were the archetypes of earthly life. Horrible it was, if there had been aught to apprehend the horror; and loathsome, if there had been any to feel loathing. About it, prone or tilted in the mire, there lay the mighty tablets of star-quarried stone that were writ with the inconceivable wisdom of the pre-mundane gods.
—Clark Ashton Smith, Ubbo-Sathla
Ubbo-Sathla ("The Unbegotten Source", "The Demiurge") is described as a huge protoplasmic mass resting in a grotto deep beneath the frozen earth. The being is of a monstrous fecundity, spontaneously generating primordial single-celled organisms that pour unceasingly from its shapeless form. It guards a set of stone tablets believed to contain the knowledge of the Elder Gods.
Ubbo-Sathla is said to have spawned the prototypes of all forms of life on Earth; though whatever its pseudopods touch is forever devoid of life. Ubbo-Sathla is destined to someday reabsorb all living things on Earth.
Ubbo-Sathla possibly dwells in gray-litten Y'qaa. The being may also dwell in Mount Voormithadreth and may have spawned another of its residents, the being Abhoth, whose form and nature is very similar. This similarity has led some writers to speculate that Ubbo-Sathla and Abhoth are the same entity viewed at different epochs under different names. The tablets that Ubbo-Sathla guards have been oft sought by sorcerers, though no sorcerer has yet succeeded in acquiring them.
In Smith's The Door to Saturn, Yhoundeh the elk-goddess is the name of the deity worshipped in the waning days of Hyperborea. Yhoundeh's priests also banned Tsathoggua's cult, and her inquisitors punished any heretics. As the Hyperborean civilization drew to a close, Yhoundeh's priests fell out of favor and the people returned to the worship of Tsathoggua.
Commoriom was the first seat of power in Hyperborea, established by the pre-Human migrants from the south. In its heyday, Commoriom was a grand city, built of marble and granite and marked by a skyline of altitudinous spires.
Legend has it that the populace fled Commoriom when the White Sybil of Polarion foretold of its destruction. However, Athammaus, headsman of Commoriom, disputes this claim and attributes the abandonment to the increasingly loathsome depredations of the horrid outlaw Knygathin Zhaum.
According to Smith's "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros", Uzuldaroum became the capital of Hyperborea after the populace left Commoriom. The city lies a day's journey from the former capital. It was the last population center in Hyperborea before glaciers overwhelmed the continent.
In H. P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, the city of the Elder Things is called "a Palaeogaean megalopolis compared with which the fabled...Commoriom and Uzuldaroum...are recent things of today--not even of yesterday".
The Eiglophian mountains, mentioned in Smith's "The Seven Geases", are a terrifying range of ebon peaks, said to be "glassy-walled", and are believed to be honeycombed with hidden tunnels. The Eiglophian mountains cross the middle of the Hyperborean continent, with one range stretching to the south and another to the east.
Mhu Thulan was a province in northern hyperborea famous for its sorcerers. It was where the wizard Eibon dwelled, as well as many other notable sorcerers of hyperborea, such as Zon Mezzamalech.
Mount Voormithadreth is a four-coned extinct volcano and is the tallest peak in the Eiglophian mountains. It is the dwelling place of various horrors, including the toad-god Tsathoggua and the spider-god Atlach-Nacha.
The gray-litten cavern of Y'quaa is the dwelling place of Abhoth, the Source of Uncleanliness. It is indirectly connected with the Cavern of Archetypes. Atlach-Nacha originated here. Y'quaa might be the true home of the enigmatic Ubbo-Sathla.
The Cavern of the Archetypes is a vast cavern inhabited by the spectral archetypes of all life on this earth. Nug and Yeb reside here.
Polarion was a region of northern hyperborea, separated from the rest of the continent by an unnamed mountain range. It used to be a fertile place, but was later overtaken by glaciers. The white sybil is said to originate from here.
The Voormis are the three-toed, umber-colored, fur-covered humanoids that once had a thriving civilization in Hyperborea. They dwelled underground and worshiped the god Tsathoggua. After most were wiped out by other pre-human settlers, the most savage of the Voormis became restricted to caves in the upper slopes of the Eiglophian mountains. Before Hyperborea's fall, the remaining Voormis were hunted for sport.
The Gnophkehs are Humanoid cannibals who were once residents of Hyperborea before being driven to Lomar by the Voormis. They were driven into exile into the frigid wastes of Polarion where they were later invaded by the people from Zobna. They are described as being covered in coarse, matted hair with large protruding ears and proboscidean noses. They worshiped the Great Old One Rhan-Tegoth and Ithaqua.
Athammaus, who appears in Smith's "The Testament of Athammaus", was the headsman, or executioner, of Commoriom before its downfall. He was also one of the last to leave the city when the population fled to Uzuldaroum. Afterwards, he recorded a chilling testament of Commoriom's final days.
Athammaus was descended from a long line of headsmen. A consummate professional, Athammaus always took great pride in his skill and never shirked his official duty. His career suffered in Commoriom when he faced the task of executing the outlaw Knygathin Zhaum, but he later resumed it in Uzuldaroum where he served 11 lusters .
Eibon, a character in Smith's "The Door to Saturn", was a sorcerer and priest of Zhothaqquah (Tsathoggua). He is renowned as the writer of the Book of Eibon, a tome that, among other things, chronicles Eibon's life, and includes his magical formulae and rites of Zhothaqquah (It is introduced in Smith's tale "Ubbo-Sathla"). Eibon lived in a five-story, five-sided tower made of black gneiss that stood beside the sea on Mhu Thulan. Eibon disappeared shortly after Yhoundeh's premier inquisitor, Morghi, came to his black tower with a writ for his arrest.
When the inquisition came knocking, Eibon fled to Cykranosh (the planet Saturn) through a magic panel given to him by Zhothaqquah. Eibon was never again seen on Earth after that. (When Morghi vanished close on the heels of Eibon, many believed that he was in league with the sorcerer all along and so is largely responsible for the decline in the worship of Yhoundeh.)
He repopulated Hyperborea after humans deserted the cities of Uzuldaroum and Commoriom. Athammaus tried to execute him by beheading, but because of his preternatural heritage, such attempts proved unsuccessful and only served to aggravate him. As a descendant of Cxaxukluth, Knygathin Zhaum reproduced by fission and thus created an Azathothian strain among the Hyperborean Voormi.
Satampra Zeiros, who appears in Smith's "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros" and its prequel, "The Theft of the Thirty-Nine Girdles", was the master thief of Uzuldaroum. His exploits are legendary. He lost his right hand during a failed venture to loot the deserted city of Commoriom (though his companion Tirouv Ompallios suffered a worse fate).
A strange woman, reportedly coming from the realms of Ice creeping upon Hyperborea. She is presented in both "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros" and "The White Sybil." In the former she is portrayed prophesizing the doom of Commoriom; in the latter, a character besotted with her pursues her into the ice realm, where he is in the end so blinded by her vision that when found by a common girl he takes his rescuer for the Sybil, weds her, and lives out his days in a joyous illusion, bearing the mark of the Sybil's kiss on his face.
The following short stories are considered part of Smith's Hyperborean cycle:
|year=(help) West Warwick, RI: Necronomicon Press.
Averoigne is a fictional counterpart of a historical province in France, detailed in a series of short stories by the American writer Clark Ashton Smith. Smith may have based Averoigne on the actual province of Auvergne, but its name was probably influenced by the French department of Aveyron, immediately south of Auvergne, due to the similarity in pronunciation.Clark Ashton Smith deities
The Clark Ashton Smith deities are supernatural entities created for the Cthulhu Mythos universe of shared fiction by California-based horror writer and poet Clark Ashton Smith.Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian (also known as Conan the Cimmerian) is a fictional sword and sorcery hero who originated in pulp fiction magazines and has since been adapted to books, comics, several films (including Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer), television programs (cartoon and live-action), video games, role-playing games, and other media. The character was created by writer Robert E. Howard in 1932 in a series of fantasy stories published in Weird Tales magazine.Cykranosh
Cykranosh is the fictional name for the planet Saturn in the Cthulhu Mythos. Cykranosh is the creation of Clark Ashton Smith and is part of his Hyperborean cycle. It also the setting for his short story "The Door to Saturn" (1932).Gnophkeh
The Gnophkehs are a fictional race in the Cthulhu Mythos. They are humanoid cannibals described as being covered in coarse, matted hair with large protruding ears and proboscidean noses. They originally lived in Hyperborea and worshiped the Great Old One Rhan-Tegoth. But Rhan-Tegoth eventually forgot them when he entered a stone-like hibernation state. They were invaded and driven to the land of Lomar by the Tsathoggua-worshipping Voormis.
The papyrus reputedly preserved the darkest secrets of the occult wisdom of the detested Gnophkehs, which name denoted the repulsively hirsute cannibals whom Yhemog's ancestors had driven into exile in the arctic barrens. This scroll contained, in fact, the most arcane and potent ceremonials whereby the Gnophkehs had worshipped [sic] their atrocious divinity, who was no less than an avatar of the cosmic obscenity Rhan-Tegoth, and was attributed to Morloc himself, the Grand Shaman.— Lin Carter and Clark Ashton Smith, "The Scroll of Morloc"
Later on they were again invaded by humans from Zobna and driven even further up north. It was there that Ithaqua, the wind-walker, appeared, to whom the Gnophkhehs transferred their allegiance. They started to harass the Voormis again as they grew in power contributing to the demise of the Voormis civilization.The Gnophkehs in Lomar were eventually destroyed when Ithaqua and Aphoom-Zhah brought about the Ice Age along with the remnants of the Voormis in Hyperborea and the human civilization in Zobna.Hyperborea
In Greek mythology the Hyperboreans (Ancient Greek: Ὑπερβόρε(ι)οι, pronounced [hyperbóre(ː)ɔi̯]; Latin: Hyperborei) were a race of giants who lived "beyond the North Wind". The Greeks thought that Boreas, the god of the North Wind (one of the Anemoi, or "Winds") lived in Thrace, and therefore Hyperborea indicates that it is a region beyond Thrace.
This land was supposed to be perfect, with the sun shining twenty-four hours a day, which to modern ears suggests a possible location within the Arctic Circle during the midnight sun-time of year. However, it is also possible that Hyperborea had no real physical location at all, for according to the classical Greek poet Pindar,
neither by ship nor on foot would you find
the marvellous road to the assembly of the Hyperboreans.Pindar also described the otherworldly perfection of the Hyperboreans:
Never the Muse is absent
from their ways: lyres clash and flutes cry
and everywhere maiden choruses whirling.
Neither disease nor bitter old age is mixed
in their sacred blood; far from labor and battle they live.Hyperborea (collection)
Hyperborea is a collection of fantasy short stories by Clark Ashton Smith, edited by Lin Carter. It was first published in paperback by Ballantine Books as the twenty-ninth volume of its Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in April 1971. It was the second themed collection of Smith's works assembled by Carter for the series. The stories were originally published in various fantasy magazines from the 1930s to the 1950s, notably Weird Tales.
The book collects one prose poem and ten tales of the author's Hyperborean cycle, set on a prehistoric lost northern continent Smith named for the mythological land of Hyperborea, with an introduction and map by Carter. One story from the sequence, the fragment "The House of Haon-Dor," is omitted. The editor also includes in the collection four additional tales of Smith's from what he took to be a similar but more fragmentary sequence of stories.Hyperborea (disambiguation)
Hyperborea, in Greek mythology, was a land "beyond the North Wind".
Hyperborea may also refer to:
Hyperborea (band), a Finnish folk music group
Hyperborea (album), an album by Tangerine Dream
Hyperborean cycle, a cycle of ten fantasy stories by Clark Ashton Smith
Hyperborea (collection), a collection of Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborean stories
Hyperborea (Conan), a nation in the fictional world of Conan the Barbarian
Hyperborea (game), a board game
"Hyperborea", a track by Biosphere from the 1997 album Substrata
"Hyperborea", a track by Horse the Band from the 2007 album A Natural Death
1309 Hyperborea, an asteroid
Hyperborea (moth), a monotypic genus of tiger mothsPoseidonis
Poseidonis is an imagined last remnant of the lost continent of Atlantis, mentioned by Algernon Blackwood in his short story, Sand (published in 1912), in his story collection, Four Weird Tales, and is also detailed in a series of short stories by Clark Ashton Smith. Smith based Poseidonis on Theosophical scriptures about Atlantis, (such as Secret Doctrine by Helena Blavatsky) and his concept of "the last isle of foundering Atlantis" is echoed by the Isle of Númenor in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium.The Tale of Satampra Zeiros
"The Tale of Satampra Zeiros" is a short story written in 1929 by American author Clark Ashton Smith as part of his Hyperborean cycle, and first published in the November 1931 issue of Weird Tales. It is the story in which Smith created the Cthulhu Mythos entity Tsathoggua.The Testament of Athammaus
"The Testament of Athammaus" is a short story by American writer Clark Ashton Smith, part of his Hyperborean cycle. It was published in the October 1932 issue of Weird Tales.Tsathoggua
Tsathoggua (the Sleeper of N'kai, also known as Zhothaqquah) is a supernatural entity in the Cthulhu Mythos shared fictional universe. He is the creation of American writer Clark Ashton Smith and is part of his Hyperborean cycle.
Tsathoggua/Zhothaqquah is described as an Old One, a god-like being from the pantheon. He was introduced in Smith's short story "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros", written in 1929 and published in the November 1931 issue of Weird Tales. His first appearance in print, however, was in H. P. Lovecraft's story "The Whisperer in Darkness", written in 1930 and published in the August 1931 issue of Weird Tales.Voormis
The Voormis are a fictional race of cave-dwelling humanoids who worship Tsathoggua.Weird Tales
Weird Tales is an American fantasy and horror fiction pulp magazine founded by J. C. Henneberger and J. M. Lansinger in late 1922. The first issue, dated March 1923, appeared on newsstands February 18. The first editor, Edwin Baird, printed early work by H. P. Lovecraft, Seabury Quinn, and Clark Ashton Smith, all of whom would go on to be popular writers, but within a year the magazine was in financial trouble. Henneberger sold his interest in the publisher, Rural Publishing Corporation, to Lansinger and refinanced Weird Tales, with Farnsworth Wright as the new editor. The first issue under Wright's control was dated November 1924. The magazine was more successful under Wright, and despite occasional financial setbacks it prospered over the next fifteen years. Under Wright's control the magazine lived up to its subtitle, "The Unique Magazine", and published a wide range of unusual fiction.
Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos stories first appeared in Weird Tales, starting with "The Call of Cthulhu" in 1928. These were well-received, and a group of writers associated with Lovecraft wrote other stories set in the same milieu. Robert E. Howard was a regular contributor, and published several of his Conan the Barbarian stories in the magazine, and Seabury Quinn's series of stories about Jules de Grandin, a detective who specialized in cases involving the supernatural, was very popular with the readers. Other well-liked authors included Nictzin Dyalhis, E. Hoffmann Price, Robert Bloch, and H. Warner Munn. Wright published some science fiction, along with the fantasy and horror, partly because when Weird Tales was launched there were no magazines specializing in science fiction, but he continued this policy even after the launch of magazines such as Amazing Stories in 1926. Edmond Hamilton wrote a good deal of science fiction for Weird Tales, though after a few years he used the magazine for his more fantastic stories, and submitted his space operas elsewhere.
In 1938 the magazine was sold to William Delaney, the publisher of Short Stories, and within two years Wright, who was ill, was replaced by Dorothy McIlwraith as editor. Although some successful new authors and artists, such as Ray Bradbury and Hannes Bok, continued to appear, the magazine is considered by critics to have declined under McIlwraith from its heyday in the 1930s. Weird Tales ceased publication in 1954, but since then numerous attempts have been made to relaunch the magazine, starting in 1973. The longest-lasting version began in 1988 and ran with an occasional hiatus for over 20 years under an assortment of publishers. In the mid-1990s the title was changed to Worlds of Fantasy & Horror because of licensing issues, with the original title returning in 1998. As of 2018, the most recent published issue was dated Spring 2014.
The magazine is regarded by historians of fantasy and science fiction as a legend in the field, with Robert Weinberg, author of a history of the magazine, considering it "the most important and influential of all fantasy magazines". Weinberg's fellow historian, Mike Ashley, is more cautious, describing it as "second only to Unknown in significance and influence", adding that "somewhere in the imagination reservoir of all U.S. (and many non-U.S.) genre-fantasy and horror writers is part of the spirit of Weird Tales".Y'qaa
Y'qaa or Y'quaa is one of the underground realms under Mount Voormithadreth from the writings of Clark Aston Smith's Hyperborean cycle. Several of the Old Ones from the Cthulhu Mythos live there, most notably Ubbo-Sathla.
Also see Outer Gods and Elements of the Cthulhu Mythos.Zothique
Zothique is an imagined future continent in a series of short stories by Clark Ashton Smith. Zothique is also the title of the cycle of tales which take place there. In terms of number and extent, the Zothique cycle is the largest collection of stories written by Smith. The cycle belongs to the fantasy genre, and more precisely to the Dying Earth subgenre.