The Moon Pool

The Moon Pool is a fantasy novel by American writer Abraham Merritt. It originally appeared as two short stories in All-Story Weekly: "The Moon Pool" (1918) and its sequel, "Conquest of the Moon Pool" (1919). These were then reworked into a novel released in 1919. The protagonist, Dr. Goodwin, would later appear in Merritt's second novel The Metal Monster (1920).[1]

Although Merritt did not invent the "lost world" novel—he followed in the footsteps of Bulwer-Lytton, Burroughs, Conan Doyle, and others—this work extended the tradition.

The Moon Pool
Moon Pool 1st
AuthorAbraham Merritt
Cover artistJoseph Clement Coll
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Series"The Moon Pool"
June 22, 1918
"Conquest of the Moon Pool"
Weekly: February 15 – March 22, 1919
GenreLost World
Fantasy
PublisherAll-Story Weekly
Avon
Publication date
1919
Media typePrint (Serial, Hardback, and Paperback)
Pages254
OCLC23108182
Followed byThe Metal Monster 
All story weekly 19180622
Argosy All-Story Weekly cover in which The Moon Pool was first published (June 22, 1918).

Plot summary

The plot concerns an advanced race which has developed within the Earth's core. Eventually their most intelligent members create an offspring. This created entity encompasses both great good and great evil, but it slowly turns away from its creators and towards evil. The entity is called either the Dweller or the Shining One.

Eventually of the race which created it only three are left; these are called the Silent Ones, and they have been 'purged of dross' and can be described as higher, nobler, more angelic beings than are humankind. They have also been sentenced by the good among their race to remain in the world, and not to die, as punishment for their pride which was the source of the calamity called the Dweller, until such time as they destroy their creation—if they still can. And the reason they do not do so is simply that they continue to love it.

The Dweller is in the habit of rising to the surface of the earth and capturing men and women which it holds in an unholy stasis and which in some ways feed it. It increases its knowledge and power constantly, but has a weakness, since it knows nothing of love. The scientist Dr. Goodwin and the half-Irish, half-American pilot Larry O'Keefe, and others, follow it down. Eventually they meet a woman, beautiful and evil, named Yolara, who in essence serves the Shining One, and the 'handmaiden' of the Silent Ones, beautiful and good, named Lakla. Both want O'Keefe and eventually battle over him.

There is also a race of very powerful and handsome Polynesian-like 'dwarves' and a race of humanoids whom the Silent Ones developed from a semi-sentient froglike species.

There develops a battle between the forces of good and evil with not only the entire world, but perhaps even the existence of good itself is at stake. But can the forces of good prevail using fear as a weapon? Or will they have to rely upon love expressed by willing sacrifice?

Publication history

The book has been published a number of times:

  • 1919, US, G. P. Putnam's Sons, Pub date 1919
  • 2001, US, University of Nebraska Press, OCLC 45284624, Pub date 2001, Paperback, Bison Frontiers of Imagination series, with introduction by Robert Silverberg
  • 2004, US, Wesleyan University Press, OCLC 51580003, Pub date 2002, the Wesleyan Early Classics of Science Fiction series, with introduction by Michael M. Levy
  • 2009, US, Overlook Press, OCLC 299803490, Pub date 2009, with introduction by Lynnette Porter

Collections

"The Moon Pool" has been collected in numerous general anthologies, including Volume 2 of The Road to Science Fiction (the 2002 edition by Scarecrow Press only) and Book 1 of The Ancient Mysteries Reader by Peter Haining. The original story was reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Fantasy by Mike Ashley.

Legacy

The Moon Pool is sometimes cited as an influence on "The Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft, which may in turn have itself influenced Merritt's later story Dwellers in the Mirage (especially the monster Khalk'ru).[2] In particular, The Moon Pool is partly set on Nan Madol,[3] a location which would, some claim, later inspire Lovecraft's R'lyeh.[4]

Doug Skinner has highlighted Merritt's work, starting with The Moon Pool, as a major influence on Richard Shaver:

Shaver’s main literary model was Abraham Merritt. Merritt isn’t read much today, but his fantasy novels were quite popular throughout the ’20s and ’30s. Beginning with The Moon Pool in 1919, he produced a series of novels about caverns, lost races, ancient ray machines, shell-shaped hovercraft, and other marvels. ... Shaver thought Merritt had seen the caves but could only mention them in fiction. One might also suspect that Merritt’s novels had influenced Shaver’s beliefs.[5]

Copyright

The copyright for this story has expired in the United States and, thus, now resides in the public domain there. The text is available via Project Gutenberg.

Notes

  1. ^ Walter Goodwin at the Fiction Mags Index
  2. ^ "Merritt, A[braham]" in An H.P. Lovecraft encyclopedia (2001) page 167. ISBN 0-313-31578-7
  3. ^ "they had set forth for the Nan-Matal, that extraordinary group of island ruins clustered along the eastern shore of Ponape in the Carolines"
  4. ^ Appendix: The Cthulhu Project
  5. ^ Skinner, Doug (June 2005). "What's This? A Shaver Revival?". Fate. Archived from the original on August 23, 2009. Retrieved August 26, 2009.

External links

A. Merritt

Abraham Grace Merritt (January 20, 1884 – August 21, 1943) – known by his byline, A. Merritt – was an American Sunday magazine editor and a writer of fantastic fiction.The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted him in 1999, its fourth class of two deceased and two living writers.

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Famous Fantastic Mysteries

Famous Fantastic Mysteries was an American science fiction and fantasy pulp magazine published from 1939 to 1953. The editor was Mary Gnaedinger. It was launched by the Munsey Company as a way to reprint the many science fiction and fantasy stories which had appeared over the preceding decades in Munsey magazines such as Argosy. From its first issue, dated September/October 1939, Famous Fantastic Mysteries was an immediate success. Less than a year later, a companion magazine, Fantastic Novels, was launched.

Frequently reprinted authors included George Allan England, A. Merritt, and Austin Hall; the artwork was also a major reason for the success of the magazine, with artists such as Virgil Finlay and Lawrence Stevens contributing some of their best work. In late 1942, Popular Publications acquired the title from Munsey, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries stopped reprinting short stories from the earlier magazines. It continued to reprint longer works, including titles by G. K. Chesterton, H. G. Wells, and H. Rider Haggard. Original short fiction also began to appear, including Arthur C. Clarke's "Guardian Angel", which would later form the first section of his novel Childhood's End. In 1951, the publishers experimented briefly with a large digest format, but returned quickly to the original pulp layout. The magazine ceased publication in 1953, almost at the end of the pulp era.

History of US science fiction and fantasy magazines to 1950

Science fiction and fantasy magazines began to be published in the United States in the 1920s. Stories with science fiction themes had been appearing for decades in pulp magazines such as Argosy, but there were no magazines that specialized in a single genre until 1915, when Street & Smith, one of the major pulp publishers, brought out Detective Story Magazine. The first magazine to focus solely on fantasy and horror was Weird Tales, which was launched in 1923, and established itself as the leading weird fiction magazine over the next two decades; writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard became regular contributors. In 1926 Weird Tales was joined by Amazing Stories, published by Hugo Gernsback; Amazing printed only science fiction, and no fantasy. Gernsback included a letter column in Amazing Stories, and this led to the creation of organized science fiction fandom, as fans contacted each other using the addresses published with the letters. Gernsback wanted the fiction he printed to be scientifically accurate, and educational, as well as entertaining, but found it difficult to obtain stories that met his goals; he printed "The Moon Pool" by Abraham Merritt in 1927, despite it being completely unscientific. Gernsback lost control of Amazing Stories in 1929, but quickly started several new magazines. Wonder Stories, one of Gernsback's titles, was edited by David Lasser, who worked to improve the quality of the fiction he received. Another early competitor was Astounding Stories of Super-Science, which appeared in 1930, edited by Harry Bates, but Bates printed only the most basic adventure stories with minimal scientific content, and little of the material from his era is now remembered.

In 1933 Astounding was acquired by Street & Smith, and it soon became the leading magazine in the new genre, publishing early classics such as Murray Leinster's "Sidewise in Time" in 1934. A couple of competitors to Weird Tales for fantasy and weird fiction appeared, but none lasted, and the 1930s is regarded as Weird Tales' heyday. Between 1939 and 1941 there was a boom in science fiction and fantasy magazines: several publishers entered the field, including Standard Magazines, with Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories (a retitling of Wonder Stories); Popular Publications, with Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories; and Fiction House, with Planet Stories, which focused on melodramatic tales of interplanetary adventure. Ziff-Davis launched Fantastic Adventures, a fantasy companion to Amazing. Astounding extended its pre-eminence in the field during the boom: the editor, John W. Campbell, developed a stable of young writers that included Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and A.E. van Vogt. The period starting in 1938, when Campbell took control of Astounding, is often referred to as the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Well-known stories from this era include Slan, by van Vogt, and "Nightfall", by Asimov. Campbell also launched Unknown, a fantasy companion to Astounding, in 1939; this was the first serious competitor for Weird Tales. Although wartime paper shortages forced Unknown's cancellation in 1943, it is now regarded as one of the most influential pulp magazines.

Only eight science fiction and fantasy magazines survived World War II. All were still in pulp magazine format except for Astounding, which had switched to a digest format in 1943. Astounding continued to publish popular stories, including "Vintage Season" by C. L. Moore, and "With Folded Hands ..." by Jack Williamson. The quality of the fiction in the other magazines improved over the decade: Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder in particular published some excellent material and challenged Astounding for the leadership of the field. A few more pulps were launched in the late 1940s, but almost all were intended as vehicles to reprint old classics. One exception, Out of This World Adventures, was an experiment by Avon, combining fiction with some pages of comics. It was a failure and lasted only two issues. Magazines in digest format began to appear towards the end of the decade, including Other Worlds, edited by Raymond Palmer. In 1949, the first issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction appeared, followed in October 1950 by the first issue of Galaxy Science Fiction; both were digests, and between them soon dominated the field. Very few science fiction or fantasy pulps were launched after this date; the 1950s was the beginning of the era of digest magazines, though the leading pulps continued until the mid-1950s, and authors began selling to mainstream magazines and large book publishers.

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The Metal Monster

The Metal Monster is a fantasy novel by American writer Abraham Merritt. It was first serialized in Argosy All-Story Weekly in 1920 and features the return of Dr. Goodwin who first appeared in The Moon Pool.The epic adventure starts with a foreword where Merritt is assigned the duty to relay Dr. Walter T. Goodwin's incredible tale of his encounter in the Trans-Himalayan mountains to the world, to let everyone know the terrible fate Goodwin's group barely escaped and the possibility of other such monsters out there.

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