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Danial

Notebook Found in a Deserted House

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Danial

I just read Notebook Found in a Deserted House and found myself confused by some of it. It mentions creatures that sound like The Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath but it also keeps mentioning Shoggoths. The descriptions within the story appear to be describing the same things, so my question is, are both creatures featured in this story or did the Bloch simply merge the 2?

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Max Schreck

The Dark Young are a Chaosium invention, at least the name is. Robert Bloch never mentioned any Dark Young. Bloch called the creatures in the story "shoggoths", so he maybe he felt that they were some kind of variant of the shoggoths in Lovecraft's tales. For some reason Chaosium chose to call these "Bloch shoggoths" Dark Young in the game, maybe to differentiate between the Lovecraft shoggoths and to avoid confusion.

 

"Notebook Found in a Deserted House" is as far as I know the first appearance of the Bloch shoggoths, who would later be called the Dark Young, so he definitely did not merge the two, as the so-called Dark Young did not exist before this story. I think he just described the shoggoth differently. Mythos writing is full of these confusing names being used for more than one thing. E.g. the Elder Things were called the Old Ones, but so were the Great Old Ones sometimes, and Lloigor was Zhar's twin obscenity, but it later also became the name of the astral race.

 

To get to my point: the creatures in "Notebook Found in a Deserted House" are what the game calls Dark Young; Bloch just didn't call them that.

 

Cheers,

 

Max

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deuce

Quite right, Max. 8) Personally, I don't see why there WOULDN'T be umpteen varieties of shoggoths. Such a thing would seem predicted by their very nature. I always assumed that Bloch knew what he was talking about. :)

 

BTW, "Notebook" is an excellent tale, IMO.

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Max Schreck

Yes, considering that shoggoths are protean and plastic in nature, there is no reason why they could not assume a tree-like shape with goat-hooves. There is no reason why the shoggoths in "Notebook" should be a wholly different creature called Dark Young, and I am puzzled that Chaosium chose to make them so.

 

I find "Notebook" a little rough around the edges, but yes, it is a fine tale, and Bloch was a fine writer, and even in his early writing, when he was a teenager, he had a maturity well beyond his years.

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cjearkham

You're all assuming that the child who wrote the notebook correctly identified the creatures as shoggoths. But no one else had a name for these creatures, and he assumed these things were the shoggoths he'd heard of.

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MikeC

I think NOTEBOOK is quite probably Bloch's most effective mythos tale.

 

MikeC

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revnye

I agree that NOTEBOOK is a very good story, my favorite Bloch story will always be Strange Eons.

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Danial

I haven't read Strange Eons yet, only The Shambler from the Stars and The Shadow from the Steeple.

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steve_w

I think much of Bloch's early work came across as imitation (of course, the finest form of flattery for Lovecraft!) or pastiche but he started to find his own voice with tales like Notebook ..., which has always been one of my favourite non-Lovecraft short stories.

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Evans

I find the idea of some one " Finding their own voice" to be a deeply pretentious idea*. Though when I read the Mysteries of the Worm I was struck by how unlike Lovecraft some of the earlier stories like The Faceless God and the The Tomb were.

 

I enjoyed Notebook but in my opinion Bloch's Creeper in the Crypt (yes I know, ignore the title) was one of his best tales.

 

*No offense intended to you Steve, that phrase just makes me feel deeply suspicious.

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GFS

Notebook is one of my all-time favorite stories.

 

One thing that puzzles me though is the location of the deserted house. The young narrator talks about the first thing he can remember being "living out Roodsford way, out in what folks call the back hill country". His grandmother told him stories about the hills and the woods. Then, sometime later, he goes to live with his Aunt and Uncle "in the very same hills that Grandma use to tell me about so often."

 

So... does this mean that the boy originally lived with his grandmother just outside Roodsford ("out Roodsford way") and then moved deeper into the nearby hill country? The boy took a train and was met at a station (apparently a rural one) and the conductor let the boy "ride with him all the way and told me about the towns" (presumably the ones they passed through), which implies a journey of some distance.

 

Roodsford, according to another Bloch story (Satan's Servants) is described as being (in the 17th century) a fishing village in Maine, 20 miles outside of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Is it safe to assume, then, that the events described in Notebook took place around there? Or did Bloch use the same name for two different places? Would there be wild hill country in that part of Maine?

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cjearkham
Roodsford, according to another Bloch story (Satan's Servants) is described as being (in the 17th century) a fishing village in Maine, 20 miles outside of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Is it safe to assume, then, that the events described in Notebook took place around there? Or did Bloch use the same name for two different places? Would there be wild hill country in that part of Maine?

When an author uses the same name twice, I assume it's the same thing. (That's probably a bad assumption when dealing with Robert E. Howard, but let it pass.) I believe it's the same Roodsford.

 

If it's a fishing village, I assume it must be near the coast (I don't have a copy of "Satan's Servants" to hand), but "near" is a relative term. 20 miles outside of Portsmouth, NH, along the Maine coast is about where Wells, Maine is. Wells is a bit inland, but it looks like the coast there could be marshy. And the boy lives "out Roodsford way, out in what folks call the back-hill country", not actually in Roodsford.

 

So... does this mean that the boy originally lived with his grandmother just outside Roodsford ("out Roodsford way") and then moved deeper into the nearby hill country? The boy took a train and was met at a station (apparently a rural one) and the conductor let the boy "ride with him all the way and told me about the towns" (presumably the ones they passed through), which implies a journey of some distance.

That's how I read it. The boy grew up with his Grandma "out Roodsford way". Grandma told stories about the hills, then the boy later moved there.

 

There is a rail line which passes near Wells, on its way from the Portsmouth area to Saco/Biddeford and beyond. So that could be the line where Judge Crubinthorp put the boy on the train.

 

And after that, it's anyone's guess. All the earlier reference to "them ones" sounds to me like they're talking about the Mi-Go. So the boy could have ridden all the way to Vermont. Or he could have ridden north to the wilder area above Portland. Or he could have ridden south (since Grandma was familiar with Salem, Arkham, and even Innsmouth, and a relative was accused of being a Salem witch) into the area "[w]est of Arkham [where] the hills rise wild".

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