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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.

30 review for The Moon Pool

  1. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Merritt was quite popular in his time. The Moon Pool originally appeared in serialized form in 1919 and was an instant hit. The breathless prose seems off-kilter today and the flip racism shines an unflattering light on a less-enlightened time. There are similarities to H.P. Lovecraft, H. Rider Haggard and the adventure story-tellers of the late 19th and early 20th century. HG Wells is mentioned by name. It was a time in which there were still many unexplored parts of the earth and Merritt did h Merritt was quite popular in his time. The Moon Pool originally appeared in serialized form in 1919 and was an instant hit. The breathless prose seems off-kilter today and the flip racism shines an unflattering light on a less-enlightened time. There are similarities to H.P. Lovecraft, H. Rider Haggard and the adventure story-tellers of the late 19th and early 20th century. HG Wells is mentioned by name. It was a time in which there were still many unexplored parts of the earth and Merritt did his best to fill them with his imaginings. This is a tale of lost races living beneath the earth and of battles between them, of the deepest history of our planet and of beings who populated earth long before us. It is also a tale of true love, self-sacrifice, honor, deception, greed, fantastical beings, creatures and powers. There is much in the book that makes me wonder whether the ideas were cadged from other writers of the time or were original with Merritt. I lack the depth of knowledge needed to fairly judge. Scientific concepts and technological prognostications abound. Personally I found these the most interesting. It is clear that for those of us who were captured by the strange civilization of LOST island, Merritt is the source of the smoke monster concept. How much more I cannot say, maybe the four-toed statues on the island are reflective of the lost-civilization, the old ones, that Merritt offers. But among the items here are: A boulder-door that opens when moonlight shines on special receptors – Seems to me that Tolkien might have been a fan A death ray that, except for it’s conical beam, might be a laser A notion of the moon having once been a part of earth and the hollowed out space in which the story takes place having been part of the earth from which it had been wrested is interesting. I am not certain when this theory on the origin of the moon first appeared. A fair maiden appears to the travelers in a way that very much reminds one of Princess Leia as a hologram The very walls glow with light in some scenes. This makes me think of upcoming LCD lighting technology The use of some sort of energy as a force field seems ahead of its time That I did not much care for this story is a quibble, I suppose. It is archaic in its forms. But it was interesting as a period piece, and one cannot but admire the rich mine of imagination that Merritt worked in producing his first novel.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    I wanted to rate this one higher, but it was something of a chore to finish. Better than three stars, but not four (3 1/2 stars). Oh, it's crammed with great descriptive writing, which is Merritt's strength. And the good stuff includes giant frog people, a dragon, two beautiful women at war, wild weapons, dwarves, an evil Bolshevik scientist (keep in mind this was written in 1919!), and a hidden world beneath the earth's surface. But at its heart the novel is a vampire story -- but with a take I I wanted to rate this one higher, but it was something of a chore to finish. Better than three stars, but not four (3 1/2 stars). Oh, it's crammed with great descriptive writing, which is Merritt's strength. And the good stuff includes giant frog people, a dragon, two beautiful women at war, wild weapons, dwarves, an evil Bolshevik scientist (keep in mind this was written in 1919!), and a hidden world beneath the earth's surface. But at its heart the novel is a vampire story -- but with a take I've not encountered before (and I've read a bunch of vampire novels). And there's a not-to-be-missed creation story that gives you a good example of Merritt's wonderful imagination. What didn't I like? A major character named O'Keefe, who is an America-Irish British pilot! This guy switches from tough-guy American slang into a thick Irish brogue per sentence. This got to be annoying in a 400 page book, and reminded me a bit of Kevin Costner (gag) in Robin Hood, though clearly O'Keefe, unlike Costner, is quite good at it. And then there's the whole "Irish" thing (you'll see if you read the book). Hey, I've got Irish ancestors, so it has nothing to do with that. If you're a fantasy fan (as in the history of fantasy and pulp writing), you should read this book, but keep in mind, even though it's Merritt's best known book, it's also his first novel, and to my mind not his best.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    An expedition to a remote island, in the South Pacific, is organized by Dr.Walter Goodwin ,to rescue a friend, Dr. Throckmartin, his wife, and an associate. Throckmartin had vanished from a ship, in the middle of the ocean!The mysterious Ponape, is where the searchers believe, he's gone to, and their destination .A strange place, with prehistorical ruins, made by an unknown race .Eventually they find an entrance, that leads to a weird ,underground civilization.A legendary people live there. This An expedition to a remote island, in the South Pacific, is organized by Dr.Walter Goodwin ,to rescue a friend, Dr. Throckmartin, his wife, and an associate. Throckmartin had vanished from a ship, in the middle of the ocean!The mysterious Ponape, is where the searchers believe, he's gone to, and their destination .A strange place, with prehistorical ruins, made by an unknown race .Eventually they find an entrance, that leads to a weird ,underground civilization.A legendary people live there. This exotic land has even a Crimson Sea!The world is dominated by the Dweller,an indescribable blob of constantly changing lights, quite attractive and quite deadly. Larry O'Keefe an Irish pilot during the war,(WW1) and a believer in the little people, had joined the explorers late, is the muscles, of the group.He meets with Yolara,t he high priestess of the Shinning One,(the Dweller) this woman promptly falls in love with him, but is she evil? With the help of friendly natives,some really ,really, alien ones , the outsiders revolt against the Dweller. A terrific struggle ensues, the winners are......guess!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature. Abraham Merritt’s The Moon Pool was originally published as two stories in All-Story Weekly (“The Moon Pool” and “Conquest of the Moon Pool”) and combined into a novel in 1919. Its copyright has expired, so you can find it at Project Gutenberg or as a free Kindle e-book at Amazon. The Moon Pool is supposedly a layperson’s account (transcribed by Abraham Merritt) of Dr. Walter T. Goodwin’s exploration of the ancient ruins of Nan Madol in the South Pacific. D ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature. Abraham Merritt’s The Moon Pool was originally published as two stories in All-Story Weekly (“The Moon Pool” and “Conquest of the Moon Pool”) and combined into a novel in 1919. Its copyright has expired, so you can find it at Project Gutenberg or as a free Kindle e-book at Amazon. The Moon Pool is supposedly a layperson’s account (transcribed by Abraham Merritt) of Dr. Walter T. Goodwin’s exploration of the ancient ruins of Nan Madol in the South Pacific. Dr. Goodwin, a famous botanist, had run into his friend David Throckmartin, a colleague who claimed that his research partners (one of whom was his wife) were kidnapped by a sentient moonbeam while exploring the ancient ruins of Nan Madol. After Throckmartin tells him the strange story, Goodwin sees Throckmartin being borne away by a moonbeam that seems to encompass an evil being who Goodwin begins thinking of as The Dweller. On his way to investigate the ruins, Goodwin discovers that others have had similar experiences. This Dweller is stealing humans and, oddly, when they are taken away, they simultaneously have expressions of both horror and rapture on their faces. By the time that Goodwin arrives at the scene of the crimes, he’s accompanied by a few others who want to know what’s going on in the Nan Madol ruins: Larry O’Keefe, a roguish Irishman who’s a lieutenant in the British Navy’s Royal Flying Corps, Olaf Huldricksson, a Norseman whose wife and daughter have been kidnapped by The Dweller, and a Russian named Marakinoff. The Moon Pool is a traditional SFF predator/lost world adventure story with an Indiana Jones feel. The story is exciting from the beginning as Dr. Goodwin, a scientist and a skeptic, can’t believe the preposterous tale he hears until he sees the evidence with his own eyes. He attempts to classify every strange thing he meets into its proper phylum and to develop plausible theories (according to the science of 1919) to explain away the weird occurrences. Meanwhile, Larry O’Keefe prefers to blame everything on mythological creatures from ancient Irish legends. When Goodwin mocks him, O’Keefe gives this delightful little speech: You scientific people build up whole philosophies on the basis of things you never saw, and you scoff at people who believe in other things that you think they never saw and that don’t come under what you label scientific. You talk about paradoxes — why, your scientist, who thinks he is the most skeptical, the most materialistic aggregation of atoms ever gathered at the exact mathematical centre of Missouri, has more blind faith than a dervish, and more credulity, more superstition, than a cross-eyed smoke beating it past a country graveyard in the dark of the moon! The union of legend and old scientific theories is stimulating and thought-provoking. Also, the addition of the attractive and gregarious Larry O’Keefe, who is really a secondary character, serves to liven things up. As much as I enjoyed Dr. Goodwin’s ideas, introspections, and footnotes explaining new technologies (some of which were “deleted” by the Executive Council of the International Association of Science so that they couldn’t be read by Russian enemies), he can’t really be considered an exciting hero. There are a couple of minor issues with The Moon Pool. One is the frequent extensive visual descriptions of the lost world the explorers encounter and the concomitant overuse of words such as luminous, phosphorescent, prismatic, lacquered, iridescent, translucent, glowing, gleaming, rubrous, radiant, lambent, and shining and phrases such as “I gazed down into depth upon vertiginous depth” and “flickering points of vermilion” and “…the shimmering, curdled, misty fires of opalescence!” and “coruscating mist of the opalescence,” etc. It’s sensory overload. Another issue is that the resolution of the story’s climax hinges on our belief in a love that feels like more of an unrealistic romantic attraction. This was disappointing because the lost world was so carefully constructed — and so believable — up to that point. I blame this deficit on early 20th century ideas about women’s roles. I think Merritt would have written this better today — nearly 100 years later! Other than the shallow romance, The Moon Pool doesn’t feel like such an old book — it’s completely accessible to modern readers — and it’s free! I look forward to reading more by Abraham Merritt. He has written another novel featuring Dr. Goodwin (The Metal Monster) which I downloaded to my Kindle for 99¢.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Boyd

    While Pulp era writers Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft have remained popular over 80+ years after they stopped writing A. Merritt seems to have fallen into the dreamlands. If you are a fan of REH or HPL you should try Merritt out. He has Howard's fast paced story combined with Lovecraft's sense of the weird and unusual. Always a nice entertaining read. Recommended While Pulp era writers Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft have remained popular over 80+ years after they stopped writing A. Merritt seems to have fallen into the dreamlands. If you are a fan of REH or HPL you should try Merritt out. He has Howard's fast paced story combined with Lovecraft's sense of the weird and unusual. Always a nice entertaining read. Recommended

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wreade1872

    Forests of tree-high mosses spangled over with blooms of every conceivable shape and colour; cataracts and clusters, avalanches and nets of blossoms in pastels, in dulled metallics, in gorgeous flamboyant hues; some of them phosphorescent and shining like living jewels; some sparkling as though with dust of opals, of sapphires, of rubies and topazes and emeralds; thickets of convolvuli like the trumpets of the seven archangels of Mara, king of illusion, which are shaped from the bows of splendou Forests of tree-high mosses spangled over with blooms of every conceivable shape and colour; cataracts and clusters, avalanches and nets of blossoms in pastels, in dulled metallics, in gorgeous flamboyant hues; some of them phosphorescent and shining like living jewels; some sparkling as though with dust of opals, of sapphires, of rubies and topazes and emeralds; thickets of convolvuli like the trumpets of the seven archangels of Mara, king of illusion, which are shaped from the bows of splendours arching his highest heaven! I really liked the other Merritt i've read The Face in the Abyss, but this one... My main issue with pulps normally is the lack of descriptive writing, hence my liking the previous Merritt i read, as he's a far better writer than the likes of Burroughs. I like my prose as purple as possible... but there are limits! and Merritt blew those limits to pieces in this one. Take a look at the example above. There are dozens of sentences like that one, most of which have some allusions to ancient sumerian legend or Navajo myth or something like the "trumpets of the seven archangels of Mara, king of illusion" above. Its so much... Also no matter how much description was used i still found it very difficult to picture what was being described. But the prose is only one problem, the plot only really starts about a third of the way through. We begin with frankly a more interesting setup and group of characters than the ones we get stuck with. The entire middle section is the most pulpy bit but actually remarkably little happens in it, there is a distinct lack of incident. Then we have several chapters of exposition before a rushed and pretty jeopardy free ending. There are plenty of interesting ideas but not enough to save it for me, still 2-stars i'll admit is being a bit harsh. Notes: I've noticed that Merritt includes elements of Lovecraft but also creatures which should be Lovecraftian but arn't. If Lovecrafts Deep Ones, appeared in a Merritt tale they'd probably be the good guys which is quite interesting. Made available by the Merril Collection. I had to alternate between reading and a Librivox recording to get through it. Edit: Having perused other reviews it seems like anyone who likes other Merritt books hates this one, which is comforting, since i have more Merritt on my to-do list :) .

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    4.5 stars. Great early SF story with beautiful, evocative writing and a great story. Reads like a classic.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dfordoom

    Abraham Merritt (1884-1943), always known as A. Merritt, was a very successful journalist who wrote fiction in his spare time. Most of his stories appeared originally in the pulp magazines of the 20s and 30s and were later republished in novel form. The Moon Pool, published in 1919, is one of his early works. Like so many of his tales this is a lost world story. The narrator is a scientist named Goodwin. He is told a fantastic story by a fellow scientist of strange happenings in the ruins of the Abraham Merritt (1884-1943), always known as A. Merritt, was a very successful journalist who wrote fiction in his spare time. Most of his stories appeared originally in the pulp magazines of the 20s and 30s and were later republished in novel form. The Moon Pool, published in 1919, is one of his early works. Like so many of his tales this is a lost world story. The narrator is a scientist named Goodwin. He is told a fantastic story by a fellow scientist of strange happenings in the ruins of the ancient city of Nan-Matal, situated on a series of artificial islands in the Pacific (and inspired by the real-life ruins of Nan Madol in Micronesia). Accompanied by an Irish-American Royal Air Force aviator and a Norwegian sea captain named Olaf Huldricksson he finds a portal on one of the islands. The portal leads to a chamber in which is found the Moon Pool. Another scientist, a Russian named Marakinoff, has also discovered the portal. He hopes it will lead him to knowledge that will make the newly arisen Soviet Union the greatest power on Earth. He offers to co-operate with Goodwin and his companions but clearly he cannot be trusted. The Moon Pool leads to a world far beneath the surface of the Earth, a world inhabited by the descendants of the builders of Nan-Matal and various other races including highly intelligent frog-people. The priestess Yolara and her consort Lugur (who comes of a race of sturdy dwarves) serve a strange entity known as the Shining One. The Shining One is not so much a creature as a kind artificially created thing composed of lunar lights and force fields. The Shining One possesses great intelligence but it has become a thing of evil, creating a horde of dead-alive zombie-like followers. Yolara and Lugur rule this underground world. The Shining One was created by the Silent Ones, three members of a very ancient race. They intended their creation to open up new worlds of knowledge for them but they failed to foresee that they would eventually lose control of it and that it would turn malevolent. The Silent Ones are kindly, wise and inquisitive but their pride led them to attempt too much when they created The Shining One. The Silent Ones are served by their handmaiden Lakla. Dr Goodwin and his friends are caught up in a power struggle between Lakla and the Silent Ones on one side and Yolara and the Shining One on the other. This power struggle will have consequences not just for the this world beneath ours, but for civilisation on the surface of the Earth as well. The ambitions of the Shining One know no boundaries. The Silent Ones believe they may be able to prevail through the power of fear, but if that fails they will need to call on a still stronger power, that of love. Merritt is at pains to make it clear that the many extraordinary events of this tale have natural rather than supernatural explanations, so while the story appears to be fantasy it was intended as science fiction. Merritt was obviously much impressed by the new and very strange understandings of the world revealed by quantum physics and relativity, and he uses this new scientific knowledge as an explanation for events that would otherwise seem supernatural. Merritt had a seemingly limitless capacity for inventing new and fantastic lost worlds. He was very much influenced by Rider Haggard’s great fantasy-adventure novel She, and in turn Merritt influenced writers such as Lovecraft. Lovecraft’s concept of the Great Old Ones and the idea of strange ancient beings whose immense powers make them appear as gods obviously owe a debt to The Moon Pool in particular. Like all of Merritt’s great novels The Moon Pool is both an exciting and action-filled adventure and a stupendous feat of the imagination. Highly recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    El

    Admission #1: I picked this up off the shelf because it has the word "moon" in it. Yes, that's right. I have some hippie in me, somewhere beneath all the grunge and macaroni and cheese. I'm all about the moon. Admission #2: I decided to purchase it because on the cover are the words A Forerunner to ABC's LOST. Excuse me? Really? And then lower on the cover and in smaller print it says: Ever wonder what might have inspired the TV series LOST? Long before Jack or John Locke began to explore their my Admission #1: I picked this up off the shelf because it has the word "moon" in it. Yes, that's right. I have some hippie in me, somewhere beneath all the grunge and macaroni and cheese. I'm all about the moon. Admission #2: I decided to purchase it because on the cover are the words A Forerunner to ABC's LOST. Excuse me? Really? And then lower on the cover and in smaller print it says: Ever wonder what might have inspired the TV series LOST? Long before Jack or John Locke began to explore their mysterious tropical island, A. Merritt created a seemingly innocent island with sinister undertones, a mysterious hidden society of "Other-worldly inhabitants, and characters who debate the wisdom of faith versus science". Sound familiar? A trip to The Moon Pool takes you from Merritt's adventure into a new way to get LOST. (Lynette Porter, auth of Unlocking The Meaning Of Lost, 2 E) Okay, so I get it. This is clearly one of those times where some publisher is all, "Hey, we might be able to make money off of this if we republish this novel from 1918 and make relationships between it and LOST!" I'm not saying there aren't connections, or similarities. There are. I don't know if what Porter says is true, I don't know if the writers of the show were all that inspired specifically from this book or if they were drinking the same Kool-Aid that Merritt dipped into back in the day. Doesn't really matter. I just love that someone made the connections and are making money off of it. It's just... the American way. This is actually two stories (The Moon Pool from 1918 and Conquest of the Moon Pool from 1919) that Merritt ultimately put together into one volume. It's pretty bizarro, one of those crazy-ass "lost world" sorts of adventures, like Burroughs did with Tarzan of the Apes or Doyle did with The Lost World. There are some wild creatures and characters, all heavily supernatural and fantastic. It didn't read nearly as quick as I thought it would - I was hoping for some genre-dripping fiction last weekend when I first picked it up, but found it actually a bit deeper than I had intended, thus slowing me down. I'm not going to say I loved it or thought it was even particularly great. But as far as early 20th-century fantasy novels go, it's a good one to check out. But I wouldn't spend too much time thinking how similar or dissimilar it is to LOST. Just read it to have a good time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    Sui generis “…the Shining One pulsed and spiraled in evilly glorious lambency of sparkling plumes.” There’s much to annoy, confuse, and dismay the modern reader in Abraham Merritt’s seminal pulp novel written in 1918. Among the hurdles the novel presents are the author’s singular purple prose, laid on with a trowel; several irritating characters – chief among them the stalwart hero-figure, one Larry O’Keefe; long descriptive passages that often leave the reader completely confused; and multip Sui generis “…the Shining One pulsed and spiraled in evilly glorious lambency of sparkling plumes.” There’s much to annoy, confuse, and dismay the modern reader in Abraham Merritt’s seminal pulp novel written in 1918. Among the hurdles the novel presents are the author’s singular purple prose, laid on with a trowel; several irritating characters – chief among them the stalwart hero-figure, one Larry O’Keefe; long descriptive passages that often leave the reader completely confused; and multiple suspensions of the main action, filled with aimless discourses on scientific theory (the ponderings of Dr. Goodwin, the narrator) as well as sequences that do nothing to advance the plot but simply seem to be the author venting whatever fantastic images are crowding his fevered brain. Still… and this is a very big still … there’s nothing else like it. And while I found myself frequently exasperated and bored (and bearing in mind, too, that I have a high tolerance for purple prose, long digressions, and political incorrectness), I was also fascinated by Merritt’s vision. And, as I read along, I began to wonder about the author and his background. Before finishing the novel, I found myself deep in researching Merritt lore, an undertaking that proved richly rewarding, though ultimately (and fittingly) speculative. Let me address first the Merritt’s peculiarly idiosyncratic style, adjective-laden and ripe with snatched bits of myth (mostly drawn from Norse and Celtic mythology), honest-to-goodness current scientific theories such as “Becquerel ray-condensers” (which I had assumed he made up, but in fact didn’t, though the use he finds for them is pure hogwash), and peopled by magnificent figures, described with language so sensually laden that it would make a romance writer blush. Here, for example, is a passage describing a memorable scene witnessed by the narrator, in which the evil force alternately called “The Dweller” and “The Shining One” is presented with sacrifices at a fantastic ritual ceremony: “Began then that infinitely dreadful, but infinitely glorious, rhythm they called the dance of the Shining One. And as the girl swirled within its sparkling mists another and another flew into its embrace, until, at last, the dais was an incredible vision; a mad star’s Witches’ Sabbath; an altar of white faces and bodies gleaming through living flame; transfused with rapture insupportable and horror that was hellish – and ever, radiant plumes and spirals expanding, the core of the Shining One waxed – growing greater – as it consumed, as it drew into and though itself the life-force of these lost ones! So they spun, interlaced – and there began to pulse from them life, vitality, as though they very essence of nature was filling us. Dimly I recognized that what I was beholding was vampirism inconceivable!.... It was a Saturnalia of the demigods!” Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read something like that I begin to wonder: were there drugs involved during the writing? And the answer, it turns out, is “Yes, there most probably were.” It came as no surprise to me that several of the biographies I unearthed on Merritt mentioned his familiarity with peyote and other hallucinatory substances, and that, indeed, he grew various hallucinogenic plants in his garden. Moreover, in his travels he’d apparently taken place in South American rituals involving hallucinogens. “Bingo!” I thought. Here’s another one of many passages that, to me, spoke of the psychedelic influence: “Forests of tree-high mosses spangled over with blooms of every conceivable shape and colour; [note British spellings, though Merritt was American] cataracts and clusters, avalanches and nets of blossoms in pastels, in dulled metallic, in gorgeous flamboyant hues; some of them phosphorescent and shining like living jewels; some sparkling as though with dust of opals, of sapphires, of rubies and topazes and emeralds; thickets of convolvuli like the trumpets of the seven archangels of Mara [Mara = a wraith-like creature in Germanic and Scandinavian folklore], king of illusion, which are shaped from the bows of spendours arching his highest heaven!” [Note also Merritt’s favorite, er favourite punctuation mark: !!!] I am not going to attempt to rehash the plot, which is incredibly convoluted, but instead I would like to examine some of the influences on Merritt, and, more importantly, his subsequent influence on not only fantastic fiction, but upon many of the familiar tropes of modern storytelling. This, I realized, was where the real payoff to reading the novel came. Briefly - and I say that with the best intentions though I could easily prattle on at length – Merritt was influenced not only by what at the time were new discoveries and theories, in particular Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, but he also fell sway to the strange blend of science and theosophy or spiritualism which many reputable figures at the time were fascinated by. This was the age of mesmerists and spiritualists who claimed to be able to contact the dead – and there were so many dead after the War and the Great Influenza. In particular, he was influenced by the theories of Madame Blavatsky. Yet at the same time, there are clearly influences by writers such as H.G. Wells, whom he mentions at one point in the novel, and Mary Shelley, whose Frankenstein (the creator, not the monster) is echoed in Merritt’s “Silent Ones,” who, it turns out have created a monstrous evil child that could destroy the world – “the Shining One.” Then, too, recall that in Merritt’s time the world still contained places no man had gone, peaks that were unscaled. The world was still a mysterious place. To my surprise, however, I later found that the setting for his story, a place in Polynesia called “Panape,” is in fact a real place and that it contains actual ruins like those he describes – though they do not have the otherworldly origin he assigns them. Beyond these influences, though, there was clearly a very original mind; one that combined the rich stew of ideas, hallucinatory images, and familiar “lost world” tropes (H. Rider Haggard?) and mystic unnamed horrors (Robert Chambers?) into an original, intense narrative. Before going on to Merritt’s legacy, I’d like to mention two random things that occurred to me while reading the book. One was a passage toward the end, when the hero and heroine are called upon to sacrifice themselves to the Shining One but emerged from their ordeal unscathed. And all I could think about was that scene from Ingmar Bergman’s “The Magic Flute” when the hero and heroine pass through their ordeals, protected by their love and the power of the flute. The second thing that struck me was how much the language of Merritt – not to mention some of its themes – reminded me of the Romantic poets, in particular Coleridge. Now, I am not making any great claims for Merritt’s artistry, but the baroque themes and emotions of Coleridge’s poetry seemed to be echoed in Merritt’s descriptions of the enormous underworld realm that his narrator traveled through. There’s a feverish, hallucinatory quality to both men’s work. Finally, while burrowing through various website that mention Merritt, most containing the same sketchy biography and bibliography, I ran across a long, densely argued blog paying homage to Merritt, called A Merritt and the Soul of the Twentieth Century”. This turned out to be something of a gold mine, though I should caution that I don’t go along with everything the author says about Merritt, and I’m a bit leery of some of her ideas in general. However, I found a few quotes worth including here as they succinctly express what would take me – let’s face it – a lot longer to express less satisfactorily. She states: ” Today, Merritt is almost forgotten, seemingly left behind as science fiction advanced. For readers accustomed to the unadorned, no-nonsense prose of modern science fiction, his writing style can seem excessive and self-indulgent. He worked primarily in the old-fashioned idiom of the lost race story and never made the transition to stories of the future and outer space. Yet at the same time, Merritt was more innovative in his philosophy than any other SF writer of his day. As a result, the themes and story devices that he introduced have never lost their relevance. They continue to exert a profound, though generally unrecognized, influence on contemporary SF.” After Merritt was essentially forgotten as the genre moved to subsequent science-based sci-fi: “In the 1930s and 40s, a handful of younger SF writers even did their best to transplant his mystical themes and romantic backgrounds to distant times and other planets -- creating a hybrid form generally described as science fantasy. And in the final decades of the 20th century, as traditional written SF faltered and lost its readership, this Merritt-derived science fantasy became the dominant form of SF movies, television, comic books, and graphic novels.” She then does an interesting and fairly creditable job of examining Merrit’s influence. Briefly, that includes not only his influence on H.P. Lovecraft and other later fantasy/horror writers, but themes taken up later by innumerable writers and film makers– themes of a universal “force” (Star Wars, anyone?), of man’s nobility and strength (in particular through his emotions and love) even in the face of superior alien races (a theme familiar to any viewer of “Star Trek”), of mankind’s overarching imaginative reach that takes him out into the galaxy. She points out, too, that one of the book's themes has been reworked multiple times over the past century: the idea that a creation can supplant its creator, and, indeed, threaten the creator's very existence, as seen in "The Terminator" and other post-apocalyptic movies and novels. While I'd caution that he taps into a deep well of archetypes and myths, he gave them decidedly popular and modern twists. Merritt's ideas, in short, permeate everything from The Fantastic Four comics to Dungeons and Dragons. (And let me insert an aside here: it turns out that Merritt was a favorite author of the creator of Dungeons & Dragons. I also had to wonder if George R.R. Martin might not have been influenced it, for the “dead-alive” described by Merritt are so uncannily like precursors of Martin’s “Army of the Dead” that it amazed me: “At the last a ruined planet, a cosmic plague, spinning through the shuddering heavens; its verdant plains, its murmuring forests, its meadows and its mountains manned only by a countless crew of soulless, mindless dead-alive, their shells illuminated with the Dweller’s infernal glory – and flaming over this vampirized earth like a flare from some hell far, infinitely far, beyond the reach of man’s farthest-flung imagining – the Dweller!” I also couldn’t keep images from my mind of the recent Netflix fantasy series, “Stranger Things”, with its evil, parallel dimension and the theme of the mother’s love enabling her to cross over into the dimension which has snatched her child.) The blog author cites Merritt’s influence on A.G. van Vogt (whom I read years back and, truthfully, scarcely remember) as indicative of an important theme: ”Van Vogt's most enduring concern, however, was his own variant of the question raised by Goodwin after his encounter with the Silent Ones -- whether superior beings might be so caught up in their own superiority as to become cold, exploitive, and careless of the welfare of their fellows. And the conclusion van Vogt reached in every case was that the same altruistic tendencies which enable even ordinary humans in his stories to defeat super-powered monsters would be defining characteristics of genuinely superior beings as well. You may well wonder, if I subscribe to Merritt being such an original and influential writer, why I give this novel a mere three-star rating. It’s simple: I found a good part of the book tedious and heavy going, though it picked up considerably in the last third of the tale, and indeed, ended in a spectacularly abrupt and sensational way. Much of the dialogue, and the repeated references to obscure Norse and Irish myths grated on me. I found myself skimming over some of the lengthy passages which, for example, devoted some three pages to describing a room the heroes were taken to, with no discernible importance of said room to the plot. So, for the writing itself, I’d assign two stars. But for what I found out digging around during and after reading the book, and for the curiosity it inspired in me, I’d award four stars. Average them out, and it’s a three-star book. I read this novel, along with a number of other pulp novels written in 1918, in preparation for the February 2018 "Reading Genres" book club meeting, which had the assigned theme "1918" -- to read books either written in 1918 or about events of that year.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Roddy Williams

    'On the island of Ponape in the South Pacific, the cold light of a full moon washes over the crumbling ruins of an ancient, vanished civilisation. Unleashed from the depths is the Dweller, a glittering, enigmatic force of monstrous terror and radiant beauty that stalks the South pacific, claiming all in its oath. An international expedition led by American Walter Goodwin races to save those who have fallen victim to the Dweller. The dark mystery behind the malevolent force is Muria, a forgotten 'On the island of Ponape in the South Pacific, the cold light of a full moon washes over the crumbling ruins of an ancient, vanished civilisation. Unleashed from the depths is the Dweller, a glittering, enigmatic force of monstrous terror and radiant beauty that stalks the South pacific, claiming all in its oath. An international expedition led by American Walter Goodwin races to save those who have fallen victim to the Dweller. The dark mystery behind the malevolent force is Muria, a forgotten mythic world deep within the earth that is home to a legendary people intent on reclaiming what was theirs long ago. This commemorative edition of The Moon Pool features an introduction by Robert Silverberg, a review of the first edition, and a glossary of the Murian language.' Blurb from the 2001 Bison Books edition. Although excruciatingly verbose in places, ‘The Moon Pool’ is a lost gem, now justifiably reprinted by the University of Nebraska for the entertainment of another generation of readers. Originally serialised in two separate strands, the combined parts were eventually revised as a novel and the evil villain (who was originally either a Prussian or German agent; possibly both) transformed into a cunning Russian, giving the story a topical twist since the Revolution was still fresh in people’s minds. For its time it’s surprisingly accurate regarding scientific principles of the day, and the introductory chapters (which formed the original story ‘The Moon Pool’) take the form of a translation of a report on an ill-fated expedition to the ruined temples of the Nan-Matal in the South Seas. At the time of the full moon, The Dweller, a vampiric creature of pure energy, comes forth from beneath the island and claims human victims. When his friend Throckmartin is abducted from a ship by the creature, Dr Goodwin, accompanied by O’Keefe (a colourful Irish-American), Olaf (a bereaved Neo-Viking ship’s captain) and the evil Marakinoff, descend into the temple of the Moon and discover a path into the subterranean land of Muria and its inhabitants. It’s suggested they are the ancestors not only of the Irish, but of the Gods of Irish Legend. Despite the extended and occasionally over-florid prose the MS remains readable and entertaining, giving us wonder upon wonder and gradual revelations. It is interesting that at this point in time writers were so fascinated by the interior of the Earth. Jules Verne has already written a definitive subterranean novel, and Burroughs’ series of ‘Earth’s Core’ novels posed a similar premise. All feature the concept of an ecosystem shut off from the world and where Burroughs and Verne tended to freeze evolution in the far past, Merritt goes further by extrapolating certain evolutionary developments in animals and plants (Indeed, Merritt seems incredibly knowledgeable about botany in particular) This novel also features an Elder Race, an ancient species of birdlike creatures which have evolved far beyond the human level of development: The Silent Ones. For its time, the story was given a patina of realism by the clever use of footnotes and references to real academic works. Merritt references Arrhenius for instance, whose theories of life spores travelling world to world were also an inspiration for McCaffrey’s ‘Pern’ series, begun some forty-odd years later. Merritt also, in his own way, obliquely explores weighty topics such as the varying perceptions of those whose belief-systems are either religious, superstitious or scientific. Goodwin is of course the rational scientist who sees Muria as an ecosystem divorced for millennia from the surface of the world. Olaf sees it as a troll-kingdom of Viking myth, while O’Keefe sees it as the manifestation of ancient Celtic beliefs. Merritt somehow manages to persuade us that all their views are facets of the same truth. ‘The Silent Ones’ are shown to be godlike, but also quite definitely the result of the same evolutionary process which produced Homo Sapiens. Apart from the appearance of the leprechaun, which we assume to be a product of O’Keefe’s imagination, there are no supernatural or fantasy elements to be found. The background however – as in the work of Burroughs – contains many conventions familiar to students of fantasy and legend. There are, for instance, dwarves, cloaks of invisibility, a dragon worm and the obligatory beautiful dark and evil priestess, Yolara. The Silent Ones also display an early example of a convention common to Elder Races; they leave with their entire race, usually into some euphemism for Death. Later, EE ‘Doc’ Smith would send the Arisians on to ‘the next plane of existence’. Tolkien sent the Elves into the West, and more recently in ‘Babylon 5’, the Vorlons and The Shadows abandoned the younger races to travel ‘Beyond the Rim’. Is there some deep psychological basis for this convention? There may be a case for arguing that historically ‘Gods’ have vanished, their earthly exploits long finished. One could also argue that Gods who stick around become too familiar and lose their mystery. As a literary device, they are far more powerful in their absence.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Bonesteel

    A loose association of adventurers penetrates the lost kingdom that lies far beneath a South Pacific island, where opposing religious factions teeter on the brink of war and a being of living light threatens to conquer the surface world. Abraham Merritt's verbose and adjective-heavy prose varies in its effectiveness. At times, he does such a good job of describing settings that they appear effortlessly in the mind's eye. This is particularly true of the first part of the novel, which is set on an A loose association of adventurers penetrates the lost kingdom that lies far beneath a South Pacific island, where opposing religious factions teeter on the brink of war and a being of living light threatens to conquer the surface world. Abraham Merritt's verbose and adjective-heavy prose varies in its effectiveness. At times, he does such a good job of describing settings that they appear effortlessly in the mind's eye. This is particularly true of the first part of the novel, which is set on and around the island of Ponape. On the other hand, once our heroes descend into the bowels of the earth, things become rather murky. Even after paragraph after paragraph devoted to depictions of his otherworldly settings, I was more often than not mystified as to their physical layouts and it made some of the action confusing. The pacing is problematic as well. The first part of the novel is riveting and mysterious, so much so that I thought this would be a 5-star book. The story slowed down considerably once the action moved underground, with those confusing descriptions and too much uninteresting characterization. I was particularly annoyed by the character of Larry O'Keefe, a stalwart pilot whose superstitious Irish nature is way overblown. However, things pick up considerably at the end, with an exciting, apocalyptic climax that features some extraordinary imagery.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    At first I didn't really appreciate the prose, but the author does have a very interesting grasp of description, as long as length doesn't bother you. I wanted to check out a classic of horror in the general field of the cthulhu mythos that has been rated rather highly, but I honestly got tied up with the overblown stereotyped characters. As long as a reader can get beyond these faults, (that weren't faults of the time period it was written,) then there are a number of beautiful aspects to the n At first I didn't really appreciate the prose, but the author does have a very interesting grasp of description, as long as length doesn't bother you. I wanted to check out a classic of horror in the general field of the cthulhu mythos that has been rated rather highly, but I honestly got tied up with the overblown stereotyped characters. As long as a reader can get beyond these faults, (that weren't faults of the time period it was written,) then there are a number of beautiful aspects to the novel that redeem it. His imagination is quite well developed for the main creature. It was easy to turn the novel into a cheesy 50's sci-fi in my mind, but giving it modern special effects. Too bad this would turn into one of the most absolutely horrible films... ever... for stories, if it were produced; otherwise, the action scenes would have been an absolute charm. What I am reminded of is the sheer imaginative power of frank l baum or similar contemporaries, in other ways, a straight adventure novel, as simple as can be.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    From the depths of the South Pacific emerges "the Dweller." American Walter Goodwin leads an expedition to discover what it is--and prevent it from claiming more victims....a mystery and a fantasy from the rich--and unusual--imagination of Abraham Merritt. Merritt ( 1884-1943 ) was one of the most popular American writers of science fiction/fantasy in the early 20th Century, and now almost completely forgotten. Yet he had a tremendous influence on the field. "The Moon Pool" was his first great From the depths of the South Pacific emerges "the Dweller." American Walter Goodwin leads an expedition to discover what it is--and prevent it from claiming more victims....a mystery and a fantasy from the rich--and unusual--imagination of Abraham Merritt. Merritt ( 1884-1943 ) was one of the most popular American writers of science fiction/fantasy in the early 20th Century, and now almost completely forgotten. Yet he had a tremendous influence on the field. "The Moon Pool" was his first great success and arguably his greatest book. I think I would agree with that, upon my second reading of this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah B

    Truthfully what this story actually reminds me of is a classic Star Trek episode. You know, you have some mysterious old ruins, you have a long forgotten culture of people, you have strange technology that could pass for magic and you have a strange creature. And then your main characters are tossed into the unusual situation and you don't know what will happen. It's dangerous. People die. Will anyone survive? You don't know. And of course there are mysterious pretty girls too. Or should I say wo Truthfully what this story actually reminds me of is a classic Star Trek episode. You know, you have some mysterious old ruins, you have a long forgotten culture of people, you have strange technology that could pass for magic and you have a strange creature. And then your main characters are tossed into the unusual situation and you don't know what will happen. It's dangerous. People die. Will anyone survive? You don't know. And of course there are mysterious pretty girls too. Or should I say women? One's good and one's bad. Very bad. So yes it's just like a classic Star Trek episode. Except this was published back in 1919! There's even a smooth talking Irishman in here who loves to flirt with the pretty women - Larry O'Keefe. And the other main character is a more serious scientist - Dr Walter Goodwin. He studies plants. There's a few others too. Like the German (Von Hetzdorp) and the man they found lost at sea. Olaf. This is an old fashioned adventure story.. It started out a bit slow but once it got going it was pretty good! The characters are interesting and they have personalities. I especially like Larry and he seemed to steal the show with his charm. The author seemed to have it well thought out (the plot) and he does mention science of the time period. I'm sure back then it was new ideas, real cutting edge stuff. The story includes a made up language. I did find the description of the creature a bit difficult...(I presume it would look like an entity from Star Trek). It's called The Dweller and it's also called The Shining One. The creature is at the heart of the story. I'm sure if this was ever filmed it would look very creepy! It would be very other-worldly. This thing is not your average creature of tooth or claw, fur or feather. It's like a scary glowing thing from another dimension! And you are very helpless if it comes for you..as how can you fight sparkling light? A lot of this story was apparently based off of Irish myths and other myths from the Pacific islands. Other Irish creatures are mentioned often in here, like the banshee. Did I enjoy it? Yes. And I also found it very easy to read. The language wasn't really difficult or anything. In a few paragraphs there are lots to wrap your head around, like when the author is talking about the creature. This is a very detailed world building here. Oh, the land in this book is called Muria. It takes place in the Caroline Islands of the Pacific (Micronesia).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    A. Merritt's masterful first novel, "The Moon Pool," originally appeared in the magazine "All-Story Weekly," as a short story entitled "The Moon Pool," in 1918. Its full-length sequel, "The Conquest of the Moon Pool," followed in that pub the following year. The first book publication, later in 1919, combined these two works into a unified whole, and the result is an astonishing piece of fantastic fiction. And it would seem that Orson Welles' radio rendition of H.G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds A. Merritt's masterful first novel, "The Moon Pool," originally appeared in the magazine "All-Story Weekly," as a short story entitled "The Moon Pool," in 1918. Its full-length sequel, "The Conquest of the Moon Pool," followed in that pub the following year. The first book publication, later in 1919, combined these two works into a unified whole, and the result is an astonishing piece of fantastic fiction. And it would seem that Orson Welles' radio rendition of H.G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds" on 10/30/38 was not the first piece of fantasy to dupe the public, either. Readers of "The Moon Pool" in 1918 were so convinced of the book's veracity that they wrote to "All-Story Weekly" wanting more information. I can easily understand their confusion, as this novel is told in a very realistic style, purportedly from notes that the famous botanist Dr. Walter Goodwin had submitted to the International Association of Science. Goodwin had been en route from Port Moresby, New Guinea to Melbourne when he encountered an old associate, Dr. Throckmartin, who told him a remarkable story. It seems that Throckmartin's entire scientific party had been abducted by a being of light, while they were exploring the (actual) Nan-Matal ruins off Panape, in the Caroline Islands. Throckmartin himself is abducted before Goodwin's eyes, leading to Goodwin's exploration of those same ruins. Throckmartin's tale is eerie and quite suspenseful; indeed, those first 30 pages of the book are so very intense that the reader will be amazed to realize that there's another 250 pages in this novel yet to go! En route to Panape to effect his investigation, Goodwin, through a series of somewhat forced coincidences, encounters a Norwegian captain whose family had been abducted by the strange light entity; a visionary, somewhat fey, Irish fighter pilot; and a duplicitous Russian (German in the original magazine version!) scientist, all of whom accompany him on his adventures. And this is just the introductory setup in what turns out to be a long, involving, at times hallucinatory, and all in all quite remarkable tale. Underground civilizations, invisibility cloaks, giant jellyfish, disintegrating beams, good and evil priestesses, battles involving thousands, frogmen, shell-shaped flying cars...Merritt's imagination seems to be bursting loose in this, his first work. Much has been said regarding the fact that Merritt, a newspaperman for the most part (for many years on "The American Weekly"), could switch so easily from dry journalese to the florid, purple prose that soon became his trademark. This book would not be what it is without his dense, adjective-heavy, hyperimaginative prose, with its wide range of reference and yearning lyricism. Just take this example, in which the author describes the flora of the underground world that Goodwin & Co. discover: "...moss veils like banners of a marching host of Titans; pennons and bannerets of the sunset; gonfalons of the Jinn; webs of faery; oriflammes of elfland! Springing up through that polychromatic flood myriads of pedicles--slender and straight as spears, or soaring in spirals, or curving with undulations gracile as the white serpents of Tanit in ancient Carthaginian groves--and all surmounted by a fantasy of spore cases in shapes of minaret and turret, domes and spires and cones, caps of Phrygia and bishops' mitres, shapes grotesque and unnameable--shapes delicate and lovely! They hung high poised, nodding and swaying--like goblins hovering over Titania's court; cacophony of Cathay accenting the "Flower Maiden" music of "Parsifal"; bizarrerie of the angled, fantastic beings that people the Javan pantheon watching a bacchanal of houris in Mohammed's paradise!" Despite the reader's desire to flip through the pages breathlessly to see what happens next, prose such as this almost demands a more leisurely pace. I found myself rereading many such passages, just reveling in Merritt's ability to conjure up dreamlike word pictures. But strangely enough, although he is extraordinarily good with these descriptions, sometimes Merritt overreaches himself, and then his attempts to picture things fall flat. I defy any reader to fully visualize Goodwin & Co.'s means of descent into the Murian underworld, for instance, or the geography of the bridge leading to the Portal. But for the most part, Merritt's prose is extremely effective at conveying a sense of alien wonder, and "The Moon Pool" does indeed live up to its reputation as a fantasy classic. I recommend it wholeheartedly to all readers.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Perry Whitford

    Lost plot 'lost world' travesty, somehow considered a classic. The only good thing about this clunking abomination of a novel is its use of the extraordinary lost city of Nan Madol in Micronesia as a starting point. A series of drowned islets of basalt rock in a lagoon, it must be one of the most stunning places on earth. As for what follows, the less said the better. To summarise the brainless plot, a scientist and some mates go in search of another scientist who has been swallowed and made to da Lost plot 'lost world' travesty, somehow considered a classic. The only good thing about this clunking abomination of a novel is its use of the extraordinary lost city of Nan Madol in Micronesia as a starting point. A series of drowned islets of basalt rock in a lagoon, it must be one of the most stunning places on earth. As for what follows, the less said the better. To summarise the brainless plot, a scientist and some mates go in search of another scientist who has been swallowed and made to dance by a moon-activated monster of lights called the Shining One. They head deep underground and discovers a lost civilisation of dwarwish men, elfin women and giant frog people, discuss a whole load of pseudo-scientific codswallop, and defeat the baddies with the aid some giant birdfaced gods and the healing power of love. I know, I know, it's a fantasy novel, what do you expect? I admit that I don't usually like this kind of thing, but I can get by with anything that's well written and convinces you that the author deserved to get into print. But The Moon Pool is atrociously written, with turgid prose and witless dialogue. On top of that, the characters, though made of card, are actually annoying rather than just banal. Especially Larry O'Keefe, an Irish-American pilot who talks in an irritating and unconvincing patois of brogue and slang, and Yolara, the obligatory sexpot priestess, supposedly powerful and irresistible, in reality a juvenile coquette. At least Merritt got to have some fun with his endless imagery about different types of light, from 'milky opalescence', to 'spangling radiance', 'sparkling nebulosity', and even some 'creeping viels of phosphorescence like smoke of moon fire'. However, the world Merritt was creating was simply impossible to picture, and the occasional references to Celtic, Norse and the Pacific Island myths added nothing of substance. File this one alongside William Hope Hodgson's dismal The Night Land, both novels which may well have inspired a handful of nerdy teenagers to become fantasy writers back in the day, but now deserve to be buried in obscurity.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    Many will already know the much-anthologised short fantasy story by Merritt called 'The Moon Pool'. This is its extension into his first full length 'pulp' novel. The short story took us to the point where we felt the mystery of what is later revealed as the Shining One or the Dweller. Once again, as so often with Merritt, we get pre-emptive shades of H.P. Lovecraft. Merritt writes at a peculiar point in fantasy history where the half-educated reader might reasonably dream of the reality of lost w Many will already know the much-anthologised short fantasy story by Merritt called 'The Moon Pool'. This is its extension into his first full length 'pulp' novel. The short story took us to the point where we felt the mystery of what is later revealed as the Shining One or the Dweller. Once again, as so often with Merritt, we get pre-emptive shades of H.P. Lovecraft. Merritt writes at a peculiar point in fantasy history where the half-educated reader might reasonably dream of the reality of lost worlds in still scarcely explored territories. It was a period when science could be happily mangled into speculative fiction that could still thrill but which is much less plausible as science to the more modern reader. The full length novel is less interesting precisely because Merritt has to stop being merely suggestive and give us tale which bamboozles us with a dated mix of outmoded science and anthropology. Once the details of the world of the Moon Pool are filled in, the magic starts to disappear despite the evident good and evil luscious lovelies and the chaste yet erotic sexual sub-plots that evoke pulp covers. Understanding is also not helped by archaic language and sentence construction and mental images that suggest the world of Flash Gordon and Dale Arden. Finally, a propensity to over-egg the sensory pudding with detailed pseudo-synaesthetic description weakens what could have been a powerful narrative, one that might have matched Stapledon for cosmic strangeness. What we have in the end is an imaginative tour de force but one that is over-written and over-acted with too little narrative clarity and too much local colour. The mystery disappears under the weight of it all.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jim Dooley

    This one had so many mixed styles that it was one of the most uneven books I've ever read. That said, there were plenty of rewarding moments probably best designed for the reader of pulp fiction. I had not heard of the writer prior to finding this book, but I understood he was an acknowledged writer of horror. His style is definitely unique, foreshadowing a number of other writers. It begins as a tale composed by H.P. Lovecraft, filled with dark imaginings beyond human knowledge (although not wi This one had so many mixed styles that it was one of the most uneven books I've ever read. That said, there were plenty of rewarding moments probably best designed for the reader of pulp fiction. I had not heard of the writer prior to finding this book, but I understood he was an acknowledged writer of horror. His style is definitely unique, foreshadowing a number of other writers. It begins as a tale composed by H.P. Lovecraft, filled with dark imaginings beyond human knowledge (although not with Lovecraft's fondness for arcane and dictionary-necessary words). Without missing a beat, it swiftly moves into the writing style of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels of the John Carter series (exotic high adventure). It closes with a Dennis Wheatley resolution that is both satisfying and hopeless at the same time. Whew! Horror gives way very soon to high adventure, and it is that style that remains for most of the novel. So, this story of mystic creatures and lost civilizations will likely find the most appeal for John Carter fans or devotees of SHE. The characters are all stereotypical as found in some of the most fun pulp literature. It is not a story that I expect will stick with me, although it was an enjoyable way to spend some afternoons. I will go back to read some of this writer's other works, although I won't if I am in a Horror mood. He may yet surprise me, but I don't expect to read him for chills ... psychological or otherwise.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matt Kelland

    This is one of those early fantasy novels that predates the modern paradigm of elves, dwarves, dragons and a medieval or Renaissance world with a bit of magic thrown in. It's set in a world of contemporary explorers who find a bizarre civilization that's both technologically advanced and socially primitive. It's told as a tale of romantic adventure, much in the style of Rider Haggard, but with a dreamlike quality reminiscent of Clark Ashton Smith. I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected. It's a This is one of those early fantasy novels that predates the modern paradigm of elves, dwarves, dragons and a medieval or Renaissance world with a bit of magic thrown in. It's set in a world of contemporary explorers who find a bizarre civilization that's both technologically advanced and socially primitive. It's told as a tale of romantic adventure, much in the style of Rider Haggard, but with a dreamlike quality reminiscent of Clark Ashton Smith. I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected. It's a classic, but I have read several that I think are better, such as the little known THE GODDESS OF ATVATABAR. Still, it's an enjoyable read, and worth it if you're a fan of the early fantasy genre.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matthew J.

    Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H.P. Lovecraft all get together to write a book... This book is nuts. Set not too long after the First World War, it starts out as a Pacific Island adventure story, ramps up the weird with some ghost-story elements, and then turns into something else entirely. To say the very least, at page 20, I had NO IDEA where I'd be at page 200. Merritt's prose is verbose and purple, but readable. His characters are a bit over the top, but mostly in a fun way. They woul Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H.P. Lovecraft all get together to write a book... This book is nuts. Set not too long after the First World War, it starts out as a Pacific Island adventure story, ramps up the weird with some ghost-story elements, and then turns into something else entirely. To say the very least, at page 20, I had NO IDEA where I'd be at page 200. Merritt's prose is verbose and purple, but readable. His characters are a bit over the top, but mostly in a fun way. They wouldn't be out of place in a movie serial. In fact, this novel would make a pretty baller movie serial. You can definitely see the influence of Verne and the influence on Lovecraft. I was reminded of John Taine's book The Purple Sapphire, but The Moon Pool is definitely a much better book. Fans of old adventure tales should track down a copy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lord Humungus

    I got this book because I loved Merritt's "The People of the Pit" so much and it is one of his most popular and enduring works. I can see how Lovecraft and others were inspired by Merritt's fevered imagination. Merritt's attempts at quantifying some of the science and physical phenomena in the story were also impressive, making this a solid example of early science fiction. My biggest problem with the book was its inherent pulpiness. This is a given since it was written with that audience in mind. I got this book because I loved Merritt's "The People of the Pit" so much and it is one of his most popular and enduring works. I can see how Lovecraft and others were inspired by Merritt's fevered imagination. Merritt's attempts at quantifying some of the science and physical phenomena in the story were also impressive, making this a solid example of early science fiction. My biggest problem with the book was its inherent pulpiness. This is a given since it was written with that audience in mind. But its rollicking storyline and outlandish caricatures made it a bit too cartoony and well, pulpy, for me to really get into it. The ending of the story (not the climax) felt a little too deus ex machina as well. Overall not bad and I'll probably read a few more of Merritt's works.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    I'm really amazed just how well thought out and imaginative this book was. This is the second book by Merritt I've read, and the guy is great. Similar to Lovecraft, but weaving more plot, character, and women into his writing. I love how he recreated Norse mythology in Earth's underworld, and wove in Irish mythology as well. The book did take me a while to read, partly because many sections are filled with detailed descriptions that I had to read 3 or 4 times to try to envision. This is a common I'm really amazed just how well thought out and imaginative this book was. This is the second book by Merritt I've read, and the guy is great. Similar to Lovecraft, but weaving more plot, character, and women into his writing. I love how he recreated Norse mythology in Earth's underworld, and wove in Irish mythology as well. The book did take me a while to read, partly because many sections are filled with detailed descriptions that I had to read 3 or 4 times to try to envision. This is a common theme in older sci fi; I think because these books were before tv the imagery was considered more important.

  24. 4 out of 5

    A Mig

    Went from 5 stars to 2, so very disappointing: It was at first impossible to put this book down. What’s the mystery behind the sealed door of the ancient ruins?? Then we know, and while intriguing for a few pages, the adventure rapidly falls flat. Towards the middle of the story, I could not care less about what the main characters would become. The underworld is weird, shelly and pastel, far away from the Lovecraftian world we could have expected while reading the first chapters. Come politics Went from 5 stars to 2, so very disappointing: It was at first impossible to put this book down. What’s the mystery behind the sealed door of the ancient ruins?? Then we know, and while intriguing for a few pages, the adventure rapidly falls flat. Towards the middle of the story, I could not care less about what the main characters would become. The underworld is weird, shelly and pastel, far away from the Lovecraftian world we could have expected while reading the first chapters. Come politics and religion in a strange realm and I didn’t expect it, didn’t want it. It was tough finishing it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mikesokolov

    The story is classic proto-SF; voyage to an underground land with magical technology, pseudoscientific explanations of supernatural phenomena, world-ending evil plans stopped in the nick of time by daring westerners in a foreign land. I finished it, but it was tough going: Merritt's breathless descriptive prose (in the introduction to my edition, Robert Silverberg refers to it as "lambent this, coruscating that") has not aged well, and becomes tiresome by the end. Would-be SciFi archaeologists s The story is classic proto-SF; voyage to an underground land with magical technology, pseudoscientific explanations of supernatural phenomena, world-ending evil plans stopped in the nick of time by daring westerners in a foreign land. I finished it, but it was tough going: Merritt's breathless descriptive prose (in the introduction to my edition, Robert Silverberg refers to it as "lambent this, coruscating that") has not aged well, and becomes tiresome by the end. Would-be SciFi archaeologists should read Haggard first.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vinnie Tesla

    That was one wicked confused book! It's a horror story. It's a White Superrace Within the Hollow Earth story. It's Stapledonian big picture trippiness! It's a Power of Twoo Love climax straight outa Hollywood. They really should have made a movie out of it in 1963. All of the glowy energy beings and disintegrator rays would lend themselves to that era's SFX, and the pastel togas everybody wears would be perfect. A young William Shatner could absolutely devour the scenery as the Fearless & Colorfu That was one wicked confused book! It's a horror story. It's a White Superrace Within the Hollow Earth story. It's Stapledonian big picture trippiness! It's a Power of Twoo Love climax straight outa Hollywood. They really should have made a movie out of it in 1963. All of the glowy energy beings and disintegrator rays would lend themselves to that era's SFX, and the pastel togas everybody wears would be perfect. A young William Shatner could absolutely devour the scenery as the Fearless & Colorful Irish-American Airman James O'Keefe. Ah, well. Too late now.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rich Meyer

    An interesting if dated sci-fi yarn from early in the 20th century, featuring both some proto-zombies and situations fleshed out further in the Shaver Mystery stories of the fifties. The narratiilve suffers from the early pulp problem of far too much recitative exposition, but the characters have some vim and heft to them. A fun read that might not be to everyone's taste, considering modern SF sensibilities. An interesting if dated sci-fi yarn from early in the 20th century, featuring both some proto-zombies and situations fleshed out further in the Shaver Mystery stories of the fifties. The narratiilve suffers from the early pulp problem of far too much recitative exposition, but the characters have some vim and heft to them. A fun read that might not be to everyone's taste, considering modern SF sensibilities.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tony Calder

    I had initially thought this was going to be a Cthulhu-style story about some type of eldritch horror (even though it predates Lovecraft's writings by more than a decade). There is some element of that in it, but much more it's a story of a lost civilization. The characters are fairly typical for an adventure noel of the early 20th century and it was a decent plot, but I found the writing a bit overblown and the story in general moved more slowly than I thought it should. I had initially thought this was going to be a Cthulhu-style story about some type of eldritch horror (even though it predates Lovecraft's writings by more than a decade). There is some element of that in it, but much more it's a story of a lost civilization. The characters are fairly typical for an adventure noel of the early 20th century and it was a decent plot, but I found the writing a bit overblown and the story in general moved more slowly than I thought it should.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bill Ramsell

    Abraham Merritt's magnum opus. Merritt was a pulp writer from early in the 20th century who suffered from a terrible ailment; he had a regular job that paid well, so his output of weird fantasy and science fiction is terribly small. This is a wonderful book. Read it. You will not be disappointed. Abraham Merritt's magnum opus. Merritt was a pulp writer from early in the 20th century who suffered from a terrible ailment; he had a regular job that paid well, so his output of weird fantasy and science fiction is terribly small. This is a wonderful book. Read it. You will not be disappointed.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melanti

    This has the narrative style of H.G. Wells with the atmosphere of Lovecraft. Lovely style of writing, but a bit of a chore to get through. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if Larry hadn't been saying darlin' every few sentences. All the pet names are rather aggravating. This has the narrative style of H.G. Wells with the atmosphere of Lovecraft. Lovely style of writing, but a bit of a chore to get through. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if Larry hadn't been saying darlin' every few sentences. All the pet names are rather aggravating.

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