Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

The Default Setting of Twenties Weird

Each decade has it’s own default setting. It’s sort of a groove that people fall into. The more original and daring the authors think they are, the closer they hew to it. “The Monster-God of Mamurth” by Edmond Hamilton is a prime example of this.

Note how it follows the same overall thrust as Lovecraft’s “Dagon” (1917) without achieving anywhere like the same concision or menace. Neither does it contain either the depths of A. Merritt’s “The People of the Pit” (1918) or the heights of his Through the Dragon Glass (1917).

I’m not sure what precisely was going on in Hamilton’s case. Maybe authors have a certain number of conventional tales that they just have to get out of their system. Maybe the editor of Weird Tales couldn’t see what was so clear to Lovecraft.

One thing is clear, though: a critical mass was quickly reached with a lot of superlative examples and discussion culminating into a wave of first rate work that would cause fantasy and science fiction to attain a depth and breadth of quality in the thirties that would never again be equaled. Judging by the selections in The Best of Edmond Hamilton, one of those authors responsible for that is Edmond Hamilton. Half of the stories in the collection hail from the thirties.

That’s not an accident.

One response to “The Default Setting of Twenties Weird

  1. John Boyle June 1, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    Off topic, but Chaosium has just released (6/1/18) their new edition of RuneQuest and the dedication reads:

    “This book is dedicated to Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, who first opened Pandora’s jar; to Ken St. Andre, who found it could be opened again; and to Greg Stafford, who showed us its limitless potential.”

    Your conversation with Ken St.Andre in Appendix D is one of my favorite sections of your book.

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