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Apr 25

My photoshop skilz know no bounds! Just look at that... ok ok... I need coffee!Click for full image

Sarah J Comments: Zombie squirrel head people, plus inflatable attention getting thing, hang out at Sarnath: Bokrug the detestable water lizard looks on.
Published 1971

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of artI would touch it without protective glovesI have seen worse. Far, far worseInteresting, but I would still read it in publicMiddling: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lamé picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show, Sir.... Good Show! (Average: 7.83 out of 10)
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83 Responses to “The Doom That Came to Sarnath”

  1. Phil Says:

    Sometimes I think we need a tag to mark creatures that look as if they say “Grrrrr!” And one for creatures that say “Woooooo!”

    This cover needs both.

    I like the trouble the artist has gone to to stick those green creatures on the surface of the Moon (Sun? Planet?), and then to reflect them in the water. Good show, sir!

    Yes, that’s the one thing I like.

  2. RachelJ Says:

    Hmmn. Not sure if this is *quite* what Lovecraft had in mind, but it does say “they danced horribly”, and if that’s not horrible dancing, I don’t know what is.

  3. THX 1138 Says:

    Where the Wild Things Blarrgh.

  4. Tom Hering Says:

    Suggested tags: skull rocks; skull-like rock formations; rocks with eye sockets. A subset of natural elements (clouds, fire, smoke, trees, water) that incorporate the image of a skull. Category: visual cliches. Skulls a’ poppin’.

  5. The Tag Wizard Says:

    Lovely stuff, Mr Hering. Henceforth shall the miserably under-populated “skull” tag be known as “skulls a-poppin’”.

  6. A.R.Yngve Says:

    “They danced horribly” refers simply to white people dancing.
    BA-DA-BUM!

  7. Tom Hering Says:

    I can’t decide if this illustrates Disneyland after dark, or the starting line of the 100m dash at the Sarnath Summer Olympics.

  8. FearofMusıc Says:

    Nothing screams ‘horror!’ more than the bored drawings done by some teenager trapped in biology class

    ‘Hmm. Iguana. Yeah. Iguanas are cool. Yeah . Could do a puma. No. Too big. Hmmm. Mammals suck. Wait..zombie lizard squirrels! Yeah. Oh man, this so TOTALLY rocks!’

  9. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    *looks at image* Those are my co-workers!

    *reads FöM’s post* Those are my co-workers…

  10. B. Chiclitz Says:

    And in an astounding example of Darwinian convergence, all the creatures of Sarnath, be they mammal, reptile or twisted balloon, had evolved identical sets of cartoon googly eyes, rendering any attempt to look fearsome, or even remotely “doomful,” entirely ridiculous.

  11. FearofMusic Says:

    “These creatures, these foul abominations whose very existence mocked any notion of a great and merciful creator; as they tittered in a mad riotous baccnalian frenzy, I felt the compulsion swelling until it was unbearable.’ Damn you’ I whimpered piteously as my will surrendered. “FRAU BLÜCHER!” I howled into the uncaring abyss.”Frau…Blücher.”

  12. Phil Says:

    There must be a word for it, episode 47:

    What do you call it when the artist draws a lovely frame for the image, and then draws some elements coming out of the frame?

    Whaver that’s called, they’re doing it here.

  13. Adam Roberts Says:

    My favourite is the far-left Knot-Squid. Unless that’s not a squid.

  14. David Cowie Says:

    *whinny*

  15. fred Says:

    Can’t get David Attenborough doing insane but serious commentary on this scene out of my head.

  16. Anti-Sceptic Says:

    @THX that one made me laugh out loud! Thank you for making my day sir.

  17. Tom Hering Says:

    Phil @ 12, here’s your answer:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FrameBreak

  18. Don Hilliard Says:

    B Chiclitz@10: Yeah, they all look too cheerful to really get the DOOOOM across. (Iguana Thingy is verging perilously close to “d’awww…”)

  19. Bibliomancer Says:

    The meerkats from the Lion King appear to have rabies. Cthulhu Matata, mofo.

  20. Rags Says:

    @13.Adam Roberts:

    That is none other than the “wacky inflatable arm flailing tube man!”
    (www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GznhT__PXs)

  21. Djinnkitty Says:

    I love how extra effort has gone to give the flying (jumping?) inhabitants of Ib a reflection in the water… even though given the perspective of the reflection, it means they’re a quarter-mile away and several hundred feet tall.

  22. Jane Says:

    That cover reminds me of the old Ballantine Books edition of “Fellowship of the Ring” with the psychodelic trees and the lizardlike Gollum.

    http://www.tolkienguide.com/modules/wiwimod/index.php?page=BREM+US+PB+FOTR

  23. Frank Says:

    @Jane: that’s what I thought too, that and a little bit of Bosch.

    Then I went looking and I think there was some definite art direction at Ballantine. Or maybe something in the water.

    http://www.skwishmi.com/interests/baf.html

  24. Tom Hering Says:

    Yeah, Ballantine could put out a stinky cover now and then. But in their case, it was because they were willing to take risks, artistically, while other publishers generally stuck to traditional pulp imagery. And Ballantine didn’t just take risks with their Adult Fantasy line, but with their SF releases, too, by featuring artists like Richard Powers, Robert Foster, Stephen Miller, Jacques Wyrs, Phil Kirkland, and Mati Klarwein. Sadly, when the sale of Ballantine to Random House was completed in 1974, and Ian and Betty Ballantine finally left the company they founded, the art department regressed, and pulp imagery became the rule – though it was mostly rendered by sophisticated illustrators. (The change was marked by the appearance on covers of an SF colophon, made up of concentric circles.)

  25. Tom Hering Says:

    Hmm. I just read an article about The Doom that Came to Sarnath, and the details pretty much match what the Ballantine illustration depicts – including creatures with bulging eyes who descended from the Moon. Plus, Lovecraft wrote it in a fairy tale style. So maybe it’s not such a bad cover after all.

  26. HappyBookwyrm Says:

    Does anyone else see the twisty creature on the left as a large, sentient neuron being?

  27. Frank Says:

    Like the notion of “adult fantasy” wasn’t itself a risk? Maybe not so much, then, with folks who had recently discovered and read Tolkien wanting more like that. (These days I see Tolkien’s books relegated to the children’s shelves.) Mostly I think these covers work, they just have a different style. This cover, well, having read Lovecraft I just think it looks too anthropomorphic. But then there are the John Holmes heads-with-holes covers that I remember creeping me out as a kid in the bookstore.

    I’ve picked on a couple of the more far-out Powers covers. And there’s a Wyrs cover that is in our good host’s slush pile, mostly because at 40 years distance it just looks so dark.

  28. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Fred at #15: Imagine the following commentary spoken by David Attenborough…

    “Here, at Castle Sarnath, we can observe the abominable spawn of Yog-Sothoth in their unnatural environment. And if we’re really quiet, we’ll be able to actually hear their unutterable, indescribable mating calls, and watch their terrible, unholy dance…”

  29. GeorgeP Says:

    Sarah J is correct: the pink thing on the left its one of those fan-driven tube creatures that keep standing and collapsing in front of used car lots.

    At least I think that’s what she meant.

  30. Sarah J Says:

    Yes, that was what I meant, a fan driven tube creature (which was not in existence when this cover was made. Prophetic Cover!) This is a book I own and read, even as its crumbly paper loses its acidic battle with time. I believe there is only one other Lovecraft cover in this archive (a knuckly clarinet player who looks to be a Giger knockoff, not poorly done) but this was is just NOT SCARY. I could bring this out to the curly slide in the park and ask random kids for five hours “Is This Scary?” and not get one Yes

  31. FeàrofMusic Says:

    Perhaps we need an illogical or improbable flight tag. From wingless zombie lizard squirrels to donkeys to men of stone,(not to forget tiny winged rocket riding T-Rex) Quite a few things end up in the air/aether that have no business being there.

  32. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Unspeakable weaving drove textile workers mad! It was…
    THE LOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH

    Rushed coding produced a buggy sequel that defied description! The mockery of a smash-hit computer game that was…
    THE DOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  33. Anti-Sceptic Says:

    The iguana on the right looks a little smug. And by the looks of the other monsters, it looks like they are not happy about it.

    I wonder what the reason for his smugness is…Maybe because he’s the only one sporting a goatee?

  34. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    @A-S: because he’s getting married! He’s taking the roadside attraction at far left as his bride in unholy matrimony. For Bokrug is….

    THE GROOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  35. B. Chiclitz Says:

    And a huge 90,000 sq. ft. castle was built with some of the profits, and the lake was dredged for water sports, and many flying immigrants welcomed, bug-eyes and all, for there were jobs a-plenty to be had. There was merriment at the wedding feast and wine flowed in the fountains. All this joy was a result of the economic policies of the wise leader Bokrug, which led to (you see it, I know) . . .

    THE BOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

  36. Jaouad Says:

    Of course, with all that development going on, the 90,000 sq. ft. castle soon caught the eye of Hilton Worldwide. Their new slogan?

    THE ROOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  37. THX 1138 Says:

    Among those watersports was a superb water slide for all monsters to enjoy.

    THE FLOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  38. FeàrofMusic Says:

    And when the real estate bubble burst betraying the inherent weakness of an economy based on consumer spending the big corporations closed down operations, retreating to R’lyeh with their profits. The immigrants found themselves out of work,the water park crumbled into decay and the Hilton became a transient hostell

    THE GLOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

  39. Don Hilliard Says:

    And a great silence descended upon the the land.

    THE SHTOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH.

  40. FearofMusıç Says:

    And finally…soon groups of unemployed teenage zombie lizard squirrels, seeing little hope for a brighter future, took to souping up their motorbikes and racing them pell-mell about the lake;terrorizing innocent byakhee and the thousand young of Shub Niggurath, Dark Goat of the Woods With a Thousand Young..

    THE VROOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

    Next please.

  41. Bibliomancer Says:

    Zombie squirrels, living in filth and ignorance, are soon to face the horror of a life of reason and enlightenment, shrieking in agony as they are punished with their first tortuous lesson by the dark master of Scottish empiricist philosophy, recoiling from …

    THE HUME THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

  42. FearofMusic Says:

    Hats off to Roy Harper, and Bibliomanceer as well. That is brilliant. I humbly bow low and concede the field.

  43. SI Says:

    When did this become the single greatest comment thread on GSS! :D

    I want to add to it, but I only feel I would let everyone down.

  44. Tat Wood Says:

    Cover-artists use psilocybin to approximate Lovecraft: the ‘shroom that came…

  45. David Cowie Says:

    Naked zombie squirrels chittered in dismay as their eldritch overlords announced that they had designed a Sarnathian national dress (in patriotic rugose white and blue), and that the squirrels would have to wear it from now on. It was

    THE COSTUME THAT CAME TO SARNATH.

  46. Tom Hering Says:

    The same-sex oriented (not that there’s anything wrong with that) creatures of Ib were aroused and bug-eyed when they first saw Bokrug the Great Water Lizard. He was …

    THE VA-VA-VOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH.

  47. Scott B Says:

    Sadly for the enamored naked zombie squirrels, Bokrug would remain ever faithful to his one true love, Pink Inflatable Tube Thing. They lived together in large-eyed conjugal bliss, eagerly awaited the arrival of their first-born child from…

    THE WOMB THAT CAME TO SARNATH.

  48. B. Chiclitz Says:

    “Enough, hold, enough!!” cried the desperate Bokrug, for finally even his massive brain had been overwhelmed by the sheer narrative chaos his life had become. No longer could he keep track of the Booms, the Flumes, the ‘Shrooms, the Humes. Splintering, dizzying story lines danced before his bug-eyes, he felt nausea creep through his gills, and he staggered, but only momentarily, for he was formidable, and, gathering his last few quanta of reptile strength, he roared defiance, and with one flick of his scaly arm he swept away the entire twisted edifice with

    THE BROOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  49. FearöfMusic Says:

    Once more unto the breach..

    But even this could not bring him peace and tranquility, for the results of marital bliss were an increasing horde of hybrid children, both horrific and delightful. The ideas of privacy and intimacy became as alien as his offspring. He and his bride began to dream of and long for days forever past; Saturday mornings watchimg cartoons and feasting on sugary sweet breakfast cereals;cereal poured from a bright yellow box graced by a maniacal clown. But the cereal was no more, like their sex life. Hope dwindled until the day they saw an interview with Quentin Tarantino. Could such a thing be? They dared not hope as they searched online; but yes! It was true! A website specializing in discontinued food line! Giving praise to The Great Old Ones and their hoary mercy they used their First Bank of Unknown Kadath visa card to place a rush order. 48 hours later there was bliss and a great sugar high as all feasted on..

    THE KABOOM! THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

  50. Dr. J. R. Asimov Says:

    It was at this time that Bokrug received some sad news by post. His lizard father had been killed by the zombie squirrels in World War (4^8). In the letter, thankfully, it also contained the family dragon scales…

    THE HEIRLOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

  51. Tom Hering Says:

    Bokrug the Great Water Lizard suffered a horrible case of flatulence. This made him very sad, so he decided to be useful. He offered an anal inflation service to the distributors of Pink Squid™ advertising balloons. Unfortunately, the corrosive nature of his flatulence made all the balloons explode, resulting in …

    THE FUME THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  52. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    Bokrug heaved an enormous sigh. So many endeavours, so few results! It was time for him to shave his goatee, pencil in his eyebrows and get a new line of work. He dressed himself in his finest yellow polo shirt and inquire about jobs in the eye of the zodiac…

    THE DUMAREST THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

  53. Bokrug the Beleagured Says:

    Nyarlothothep have mercy on my twisted black soul! My life was so simple..until I found myself here!

  54. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Then the skies were torn asunder above that unhallowed land! Worlds clashed! For this was the day of…

    THE BARSOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  55. Tom Hering Says:

    Because there are never enough Perry Rhodan adventures …

    THE DUMMKOPF THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  56. FearöfMusic Says:

    “I must kill the all,” the overwhelmed and now thoroughly confused Bokrug muttered from his hiding space beneath the castle. “Never will I know peace. But what, oh what, to do with all those corpses?”
    Once more the internet and expedited shipping came to his rescue. 2 days later there was a fearful Lovecraftian slaughter and Bokrug made good use of his newest purchase..

    THE TOMB THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

  57. Rachel J Says:

    Now, Bokrug had time to work on his memoirs. Day and night the water lizard’s claw flew over the parchment. Finally, “Sarnath Revisited– the Blasphemous and Unnatural Memories of Bokrug Lizard” was complete. As he placed the book on the shelf next to the “Necronomicon”, Bokrug heaved a deep sigh of satisfaction. “It will probably sell quite well,” he told himself.

    It was…

    THE VOLUME THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

  58. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    A very good evening, or a very early morning, to all of you in the half-forgotten land of Mnar. I’m Bokrug the Beleagured, your host. Tonight, while the moon is gibbous, I’ve summoned eldritch deities out of space and time to bring us some Monk, Mingus and Coltrane for your listening pleasure. First, though, abominable flautists whose wailing ululations drive the sane to madness and beyond will favour us with that classic of classics, ‘Stardust’. Sit back and watch the winding river Ai as we present…

    THE MOOD THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

  59. FearofMüsiç Says:

    “So they like said ‘Bra, there is like no way, ya know, that you can surf that lake.’ And I said, yo a wave is a wave man. Scope the glassy, man, it’s buildin to break. Use your melon for more than sportin that sad do of yours. Got my board waxed, rockin the jams and…gaaaa!”
    Bokrug silenced him with a well placed chomp to his tanned blonde head, assuring that he would be the first and also last..

    DUDE THAT CAME TO SARNATH!!

  60. B. Chiclitz Says:

    So, we’ve altered syllabification, we’ve altered the actual rhyming sound, and still this title keeps producing! Such fertility, such power. Bokrug really is unkillable, and all those who have entered into his misbegotten realm have been tainted by its dark energy, never to see things aright again, always a little off, a bit twisted, they are

    THE SKEWED THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

  61. FeàröfMüsic Says:

    Let’s place the credit(blame) upon the one who started all of this.

    A.R. Yngwe, I’m looking at you..

  62. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    Right, you’re all going to kill me now, but…

    Just to the right of the castle. Doesn’t that look like a bird? A big black beaky bird, that wraps around the spine, and whose talons are on the front cover? Could he have on his wings…

    THE PLUME THAT CAME TO SARNATH?

  63. Tom Hering Says:

    Bokrug was wanted as an exhibit in Foreverness, the museum of Tschai life, by …

    THE PNUME THAT CAME TO SARNATH.

  64. Jaouad Says:

    Treebeard the Ent, on one of the neighbouring Ballantine covers, woke up, late as usual, and decided to investigate what all the hubbub was about. His was

    THE BU-RA-RUM THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  65. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    54, @AR: Thanks to the wonders of pareidolia, we see a rock on the surface of Mars that looks like Bokrug himself! Could this be…

    THE SARNATH THAT CAME TO BARSOOM???

  66. Jaouad Says:

    Getting a bit dusty in here. No one’s commented for months!

    Time for

    THE ROOMBA THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  67. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @Jaouad—and indeed the loathsome Bokrug did enjoy the Roomba, and danced it whenever he had the chance, for he loved Latin music. How, on Sarnath, you ask, could Bokrug acquire such music? Simple: he subscribed to

    THE iTUNES THAT CAME TO SARNATH!

  68. Stevie T Says:

    And Bokrug, feeling even more Beleagured than usual, decided to take up a meditation class to forget the nightmare of the last few years, thus

    THE OM THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  69. HappyBookwyrm Says:

    Let’s keep it going into the new year!

    Bokrug realized that the antidote to the crazy fantasy story that his life had become was a little hard science. So he calculated the value of electric charge generated by scales slithering over distorted rocks. It was…

    THE COULOMB THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  70. B. Chiclitz Says:

    And after his encounter with electrical charges, Bokrug’s meditation chant morphed into

    THE OHM THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  71. TsarCat Says:

    Inspired by his experience with science, Bokrug realized that with proper study, he could create music rather than just listening to it. Of course, he needed a good woodwind instrument to play the music, and so he sought out…

    THE BASSOON THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  72. B. Chiclitz Says:

    And indeed the bassoon lessons went well, so well that soon the detestable Bokrug felt a need to tackle more complex musical scores, scores requiring more than a solo bassoon, so he place an advert in the Galactic Gazette and, after a series of grueling auditions, hired an accompanist, a very talented simian keyboard player, who was happy to relocate, and was thereafter known as . . .

    THE BABOON THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  73. Tom Noir Says:

    The baboon had a very strange contract – it wished to be payed only in plums. Bokrug thought that he had hit upon a real deal, as plums are cheap. Unfortunately they are not native to the region, and so they had to be imported over a huge distance and at great expense. Even worse, when it arrived the entire shipment was found to have dried out, and so it became known as

    THE PRUNE THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  74. THX 1138 Says:

    Therefore Bokrug decided to follow his interest in biology, and became a successful scientist fertilising animal eggs in the laboratory. He liked to bring his work home with him.

    THE ZOON THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  75. Tat Wood Says:

    ECCLES: What’s that yurr readin’ Bottle?
    BLUEBOTTLE: Dis is de book in wot is writted of the names of all the dedded, wot is writted in here.
    ECCLES: OoooOOOOooh! Dat must be very heavy.
    BLUEBOTTLE: It is, my good man, and I have need of assistencing in turning de leaves of dis -here book.
    (GRAMS: clunking winches and steam-driven machinery, then a crash of a piano)
    ECCLES: Sorry! ‘Ere, Bottle, dat’s your name on this next page.
    BLUEBOTTLE: You rotted swine! You have dedded me! I do not like dis game!

    From THE GOON THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  76. Jaouad Says:

    Bokrug’s bassoon proficiency soon came to the attention of a major record company, which resulted in an endorsement deal with Microsoft. All of his music would be distributed exclusively on

    THE ZUNE THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  77. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    *crunch munch crunch* ‘So, there we are. There are seven naïve teenagers that are tromping their way down the cave towards your collective lairs. Darling, what are you going to do?’

    ‘Mm, no point in hurrying. I think I’ll cast a spell of vague foreboding doom over them all. Hand me an Irn-Bru, will you, love?’

    ‘Right, there you are. Roll…’

    ‘Six per cent! Success and then some!’

    ‘All right, then. Make a Luck roll. The chap in the lead makes an ineffective joke and their collective party mood sinks, but no loss of Sanity. Yet.’ *munch munch* Verdefuzz, what’s your play, then?’

    ‘Right, I’ll nip round the back and try to goon the one bringing up the rear. My idea is, my idea is I’ll impersonate him, and then at the critical moment I’ll reveal, woo! It’s not your friend, it’s an eldritch abomination, and they’ll go mad from the revelation.’

    ‘Is that your plan?’ *crunchity munch*

    ‘Oh, it’s a gamble, but I can’t help it.’

    THE DOOM THAT GAMED IN SARNATH!

  78. oops Says:

    In the darkest depths of night, the zombie squirrels rose once more from watery tombs, chittering madly of revenge on Bokrug. Unfortunately, given the recent events happening in the city, a few dead treerats stalking the streets was

    A DOOM TOO TAME FOR SARNATH

  79. B. Chiclitz Says:

    And yea verily the hypertext generated by the many minions of Bokrug the Detestable soon took on the density of an epic novel, a deep literary artifact that exceeded the powers of most to grasp its intricacies, the depths of its symbolic syntax, profound interrogations of language and power. How were the fairly uneducated creatures of Sarnath going to comprehend their own narrative? They could not read it unassisted; they needed help, so they called Yale University to seek an emeritus professor to come and hold seminars on their Holy Text. Thus arrived . . .

    THE HAROLD BLOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  80. Stevie T Says:

    And one day Bokrug looked out his window to see the roses blooming, the wasps building their nests (right on his windowsil, of course), the fruit trees beginning to ripen, and the flapping attention socks going through their complicated mating dances. It was

    THE JUNE THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  81. B. Chiclitz Says:

    And it came to pass that all of the joyous spring blossoming and mating and honeysuckle sweet googly-eyed flora and fauna generally inspired Bokrug to do something nice for his minions, so he decided to hold a joyous Renaissance Faire, and to create the proper mood, he hired an intergalactically famous party decorator who brought

    THE FESTOONS THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  82. Severian 67 Says:

    Now that June had finally arrived, Bokrug bethought himself that it was time once more to sprawl squamously before his televisor and watch Wimbledon. Dredging up the zombie-lizard-squirrel-proof Tupperware bowl of strawberries and cream that he had left to chill in the lake, with a triumphant flourish he brandished the utensil that had been delivered by Amazon only that day –

    THE SPOON THAT CAME TO SARNATH

  83. Severian 67 Says:

    With reference to RachelJ’s comment way back when – is there any chance we can get a new tag – horrible dancing?

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