Friday, May 27, 2005

H.P. Lovecraft and Zombie guns

Chaos over at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot posted a couple of things this week which interested me. The first was his observation that many gun folks are also Lovecraft fans. I think this is more owing to the universality of Lovecraft's writings than to anything else. Just about everyone, regardless of political/social/religious leanings, provided they have something of an imagination, can appreciate the fear stimulus invoked by these tales of the unknown. That's my theory, anyway. Chaos has also been posting a few of his favorite HPL quotes, so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and post a couple. Tonight's quote is from The Festival. This is one of my favorite stories, although it is not really considered one of his "major" tales like The Call of Cthulhu or The Shadow Over Innsmouth. This tale has an excellent example of how Lovecraft could describe something by not describing it:
"...there flopped rhythmically a horde of tamed, trained, hybrid winged things that no sound eye could ever wholly grasp, or sound brain ever wholly remember. They were not altogether crows, nor moles, nor buzzards, nor ants, nor vampire bats, nor decomposed human beings; but something I cannot and must not recall."
There are plenty of stories which result in the death (or fate worse than death) of the protagonist, and sure, those are scary. But to me, the truly haunting tale is the one in which the protagonist survives more or less intact, but leaves the reader with the knowledge that the he will be haunted by memories/dreams/visions of his experience forever afterward. This may be why Lovecraft's writings were always better--to me--than some other writers. There is almost always someone who survives but will be forever after psychologically scarred by the experience.

Chaos' other post that struck a chord in me was his question of what would be one's preferred zombie gun. I should begin by the disclaimer that the article he referenced was, according to Snopes, an April Fools Day spoof. However, this does not invalidate his question. Perhaps this also struck me strangely because (since I usually have lots of opportunity for my mind to wander while working--yes, it is quite easy for one part of the brain to read meters, watch for hazardous obstacles, and keep an eye out for dogs while another part thinks of something else entirely) I found myself this week wondering what would be the best handgun to have on hand if one were to encounter a small horde of Deep Ones. This question is especially problematic because my preferred caliber, the .357 Magnum, wasn't introduced until 1935. Most of Lovecraft's stories were set before this, so I found myself contemplating only calibers and handguns that were more widely available in his time. (This question becomes even more pertinent when thinking in terms of playing the Call of Cthulhu game). My only conclusion could be: the M1911 in .45 ACP, or if necessary, one of the early revolver variants that used this round such as the M1917 Army revolver (or any revolver that fired the .45 Long Colt, for that matter). A Thompson submachine gun would probably also not be a bad idea, if one were allowed something other than a handgun. I would also not mind too terribly if I had a couple of good friends backing me up with a couple of 12-gauges loaded with heavy buckshot. Of course, if the horde is of any respectable size at all, I think the best bet would be to do as the main character of The Shadow Over Innsmouth did: hide and hope they don't find you (which turned out to be irrevlevant in the end).

But back to the original question of zombies. They kind of zombie I am most familiar with is that portrayed in Night of the Living Dead and various sequels. These zombies required massive destruction of the brain in order to be destroyed. Shotguns may be good for this, but it seems to me that buckshot would be better against monsters which could be stopped by torso shots. So in handgun terms, I think anything with plenty of power and a decent number of shots before reloading would work. I would recommend the .357, .44 Magnum, or even the .50 AE. One of the lever-actions in .357, a camp carbine in .45, or a Ruger carbine in .40 would probably all be great for blasting zombie brains.

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