Open Thread: How Will Providence End?

Providence11-reg
A snowy suicide chamber on the cover of Providence #11 – art by Jacen Burrows

With Providence #10’s shocks receding and great new covers for Providence #11 released today via this Bleeding Cool article, we don’t have long before Moore and Burrows’ series concludes. The future, or maybe the past, is looking pretty cold and bleak for our struggling protagonist Robert Black.

Providence 11 Women of HPL variant cover - art by Jacen Burrows
Sonia Greene on the Women of HPL Providence 11 variant cover – art by Jacen Burrows

We’ve been inundated with comments – which we really do enjoy and appreciate, and definitely use to fill out our annotations. For right now we are keeping the comments closed on the Providence #11 annotations page and we’re hoping that our readers will comment on this post with speculation on what will happening next. The week issue #11 comes out (it looks like November) we’ll open the comments for that page.

Alan Moore seems to sometimes telegraph what’s coming next, but still manages to surprise and keep readers guessing. Just how badly have we all predicted the series in the past? Most of us have been proven wrong as soon as the next issue is released. See our earlier prediction threads:

p.s. If you’re looking for more Providence insights, see where we recently published the remainder of questions and answers from Jacen Burrows’ Ask the Artist interview. Read the excellent revealing interview here. Burrows stated that he is interested in responding to some more questions as the series concludes. Add your questions as comments on the interview page.

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89 thoughts on “Open Thread: How Will Providence End?

  1. Suicide? Being committed to an asylum?
    I wish Robert would be able to get to see Tom one last time, 😦
    I’ve actually come to somewhat care for the poor guy.
    But I don’t think that’s probably in the cards for our messenger.

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  2. I extremely hope that the last issue will show us Earth which turned into Yuggoth – something Promethea-like, but more Lovecraftian. Indeed, I’d like to see awaken people realising that they’re ancient… things who were dreaming about being humans and about some ridiculous illusions like spacetime!

    By the way, it will be epic if the basic cover of #12 is R’lyeh and the Dreamscape cover is Kadath.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did think we’d visit the past or the future, so perhaps there will be some flashbacks to how the redemmer prophecy was planned out or maybe we will see the FBI clamp down on Suydam and the fish folk, perhaps Robert ends up feeling suicidal and visits the exit garden, life flasks before him, out of body experience and has visions of the past and then the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Plus I think we’ll see the raid in Red Hook and Salem, probably tying into the dream he had back in issue 3, perhaps we will find out what Hoover did to the fish folk

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  4. Hey, a just had an insight about the whole series Courtyard, Neonomicon and Providence and even Moore’s work. It may be too strange, but I want to ask you what you think about this possibility:

    – The belief in the fiction makes it true. This happens throught the whole series, with Lovecraft creating the Mythos, and so, giving form to it. He writes from the late 10s to the 30s.

    – The FBI knows about this, which leads to the fact that maybe other organizations are aware of this, and are even trying to prevent this doom to happen.

    – How can you fight a fiction? With ANOTHER fiction. Historically, what appeared in the end of the 30s, after Lovecrafts death, that until today inspire and is more popular then ever? Something that could create the idea that even creatures from other dimensions can be fought? Yes, SUPER-HEROES!

    So, maybe it wasn’t Moore’s point of course and it’s just me thinking about the possibilities. But it would be a nice story, showing that Super-heroes as a concept were created as a defense system to prevent cosmic horrors from destroying our reality. As long as we keep believing and enjoying stories where the good guys win in the end, we will be free from Cthulhu and company!

    As long as Superman and Batman aren’t character that enjoy killing and destruction, we are safe… oh wait!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Robson, this idea is SO SWEET! I’d be really pleased to see a time-travelling superhero saving Robert in the last moment, then saving all the humanity… But eh, doubt that: the Neonomicon is set in the time where superheroes should have been invented for decades, and the world is still doomed, with no sign of real heroes to save the day. The only superhero who can save them now is someone who will be bold enough to punch Brears in the stomach hard enough for her to miscarry.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, in my defense, I don’t want a Super-hero to save the day in this story, of course. It just seems that at best, in this world created by Alan Moore, Super-heroes, and even the current industry created around it, would be just attempts at trying to stop the inevitable doom or something. Not strong enough actually to make Super-heroes real, because if you look at it, even this type of story is becoming decadent. I just realized that Superman appears a couple of years after Lovecraft’s death and it made some sense.

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    • Well, we certainly are living in interesting times. On one hand we are getting kiddie-fied Lovecraft with the whole plush Cthulhus, Lovecraft cartoons and on the other hand we now have R-rated BatmanVSuperman and….Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke.” Lol!

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    • Well inversion seems the theme of the times: on one hand we have kiddie-fied Lovecraft with all the plush Cthulhus and Howard Lovecraft cartoons and on the other hand we have R-rated Batman and Superman!
      Plus…Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke”! Which he hates now, apparently.

      But the idea of superheroes as created to stop the Mythos is certainly interesting, since it was an industry created mainly by immigrant Jewish cartoonists. There’s a story there!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Now that I think about it, imagine this:
        Robert Black, a Jew, is kind of mad and desperate, and starts to dream for a savior. Someone with black hair, square chin, really handsome, like Tom Malone or even Jonathan. Aren’t they just like Superman/Clark Kent? Isn’t Superman the crazy dream of a desperate Robert?

        Oh god, I hope Moore doesn’t discover that we are making a super-hero fan fic based on his horror masterpiece!

        Liked by 1 person

    • The US Government creating superheroes would be a nice irony, what with Fredric Wertham popping up later. But nah, Rob’s world is doomed. Always was, Earth always was Yuggoth, just hasn’t happened yet.

      We can’t put Rob through all this horror and then have the world saved in the last issue. I’d feel ripped off!

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      • I’m not exactly sure how I’d feel if a superhero saved the day, most likely it would seem so childish and cheap I would totally love it. I like it when creators sometimes break their own rules simply because they can.
        I think an abortion would be a perfect heroic thing to do, yes (it was in South Park, remember? They saved the world by performing an abortion with a porcupine, who was pregnant with Antichrist)

        That would make sooo many people mad))))) But it would make perfect sense – not all pregnancies are welcome, deal with it.

        Honestly, I like Robert so much, that at this point I would rather stay disappointed by the story in general, if it would mean saving him.

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    • Alan have already shown us how Cthulhu Mythos fucked up the world of superheroes. Just ask Watchmen about that telepatic thing with tentacles! Only a few people knew that this was but a joke. Quite killing one, indeed.

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    • Or, think about Captain America. With that symbol, they were creating a Brand New America that, instead of hating Jews and being intolerant, punches Hitler in the face!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enter an asylum or a suicide chamber, driven beyond my wits by the continual delays in Providence’s publication. It doesn’t look good for me, I’m afraid. I should have seen it coming from the start.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I see no point in complaining about the delays. Moore and Burrows do have other commitments to deal with as well, and if going slower helps them achieve the quality they’re seeking in the time they have, it’s all for the better.

      That aside, I have honestly no idea where they’re going. Black seems to be trapped in some kind of dreamscape and maybe live through a part of Lovecraft’s Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, but the covers do tend to show images not present in the stories, so…yeah. Your guess is as good as mine.

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      • It is fair to complain, it’s supposed to be a monthly comic. Other comics manage. Moore’s commitments aren’t my problem. A professional doesn’t turn in work when they feel like it. Writing Providence IS a commitment. Any less talented writer wouldn’t get work again. If he needs 2 years to write a comic, fine, start 2 years earlier. To do it this way is pissing us about, it’s showing no respect to the audience, who pay everybody involved’s wages. If Alan’s work wasn’t so good, nobody would defend him.

        That’s if Alan IS the problem, and I don’t think he is, in old interviews from more than a year ago, he mentions issue 9. I’m pretty sure the scripts have been sitting there on their memory stick since before issue 1.

        Jacen mentioned having to cut a few corners to get issue 9 done in time. But again, that’s not his fault.

        Almost certainly it’s Avatar’s fault. Jacen knows how fast he can draw, so assign him it in advance, before the publication. I think Avatar were waiting for sales results before they wanted to pay for the comic to be drawn. If not that, then it’s their fault some other way. It’s really not good enough. 12 part limited series means it’s possible to have it all done in advance.

        Many serial, endless comics, are done with an issue or two in hand. They meet their obligations almost without fail. That shows it’s possible to do a comic a month. Jacen has said he can’t draw that fast (3-4 pages a week), so he’d need to do 4 issues before the first, in order to do 12 in a year. Maths available on request.

        Sure it’s a financial investment, a risk, but they could base their risk on Alan’s previous sales, and sales of Neonomicon. I don’t know how much Jacen charges for 4 issues, but there must be a decent profit after or they wouldn’t bother. Things like printing costs are the same now or a month late.

        But possibly the worst thing is, we don’t know. We don’t get an explanation, we don’t deserve one.

        Next time I’ll wait for the trade paperback. Which comic publishers bitch about. But can you blame me?

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      • haha with that attitude, you should just wait it out until the TPB now. the loss of your 10 bucks on the last two issues will show ’em!

        it’s alright guys, cause with MY view of time, in a sense we’ve all already read issue 12. we always have. and it’s great

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      • In fact I believe Jacen Burrows has said that the covers for #12 are all complete, so he might well be deep into the issue or nearly done by now. It won’t be anything like the year long gap between LOEG issues, which weren’t that excruciating for most readers.

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  6. The quality of this work has built up so much good-will in my mind that I am not thinking about the time between issues. Had this been a less than stellar work, I would be anxious every month as well. The fact of the matter is that waiting however long for the next issue has never left me disappointed once it arrives. It is just that good… and only getting better.

    I find it interesting that the regular cover for #11 is the first to show architecture that does not exist in our world. Could this be a clue to a shift in reality after the Messenger/Redeemer meeting? Burrows and Moore have spent so much time creating, in exquisite detail, the real world circa 1919 for the regular covers I am left to think that this reality shift is a crucial part to the narrative.

    In keeping with the Christian themes running throughout the story, I would personally like to see Lovecraft disciples come in to the mix by the end. August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, and perhaps even Robert Bloch spreading the “word” about the coming of the Old Gods would serve as an appropriate continuation of the Redeemer prophecy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oooh, that’s an excellent point. IF HPL is the Redeemer and his mythos are the Good News, then August Derleth could well appear as the first Apostle.

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    • I agree with your premise, but would also like to note that Burrows’ rendition of the Exit Chamber is not entirely fanciful. It does follow the architectural style of Bryant Park. In fact it closely resembles a sort of inverted version of the chamber that surrounds the statue of the parks’ namesake William Cullen Bryant, which was dedicated in 1911.

      Indicative of the Exit Chamber’s purpose are the three statues that sit atop it. I believe they are Persephone, Demeter and Heckate. Mythology does not offer a better connection to the world below, or sous le monde, and death/resurrection themes than those three.

      An interesting real world aside is that during the 1980’s Bryant Park was redesigned to sit above the archives of the New York Public Library which it is adjacent to. All those billions of printed words, centuries of ideas, sitting beneath the ground, with tens of thousands of mostly unaware people walking above seems appropriate in context with Moore’s story. Hidden worlds we live within a hair’s breadth of.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I get the feeling that we are going to see some very explicit depictions of the horrors that have only been hinted at so far (what takes place under Suydam’s house, etc.). Nothing left but to wait and see…

    Liked by 1 person

      • I think something along those lines is implied, but with few exceptions I’ll say that Providence has yet to challenge the “unspeakability” of the supernatural horror by shoving it right in our faces the way it was done in Neonomicon. My feeling is that the end of Providence will be explodingly explicit about these things in some way – perhaps it will take a flashforward with Merrill Brear’s unique sensibility to bring its naked face to light fully…

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  8. Even though Carcosa’s “mother” is nowhere to be seen, I’ve got a feeling she’s still got some kind of role to play in the last two episodes, what with being the “secret chief” of the Stella Sapiente. Going through Suydam’s pamphlet at the end of Providence 2 and the dream sequence in Providence 3, I still think that Robert (or maybe someone else) is going to turn fishy in the next two episodes. It doesn’t help that the Sous le Monde had borrowed from the sequences that deal with human-animal transformation in the Latin version of the Kitab. Alvarez might be right that the book doesn’t cause suicides, but what horrors does it really contain? I suspect 11 will show some of that.

    Also, seeing the importance that the pamphlet gives Etienne Roulet’s mother, Marie Delaroche, and how it talks about her ways as a gypsy and worshipping Diana, I think we’ve got a pretty solid idea who Carcosa’s “mother” really is. The clincher was finding the incunabula of the Liber Stella Sapiente in the steeple room that we know she uses – it was in possession of Jacques Roulet and Claude Roulet, and if not Colwen (who was associated with Jacques according to Howard Charles), who better than Marie Delaroche to bring that book to America and set herself up as the secret head of the Stella Sapiente?

    I suspect that at least one of the women we know, probably Carcosa’s mom, is going to have influenced Lily in some way that led to Robert becoming a Herald and thence on to his doom – and we’ll probably see that in issue 11. Is it any coincidence that Robert thrice flees in terror from females (Lilith, Massey, Elspeth Wade) or that women are so much more important in the Stella Sapiente than is immediately evident?

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  9. Just (re-)watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as part of a Gene Wilder Memorial Party. Was struck by the line: “Inside here, all my dreams become realities, and some of my realities become dreams.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “Providence” ends with us reading and discussing “Providence.” The names and ideas have proliferated world culture at large and fallen into common usage. For instance, I just watched a YouTube review of an electric guitar effect box called Carcosa, with a distortion switch setting called “Hali.” I’d say Black and HPL’s (and Moore’s & Joshi’s) missions are quite complete.

    Moore, going all the way back to “The Courtyard,” is asking us to consider the point in human existence where the perception of an object became attached to a lingual utterance, a sound symbol. Ultimately, the ability to not only describe the tangible but also ascribe words to concepts leads to creative mythologizing.

    We formulate the concepts, we generate the Gods, and we keep them “alive” by repeating the rituals either dedicated to, or taught by, them. “Say my name…”

    For me, the entire subtext is the connection between language and creative emanation. Justified and ancient.

    Is that too simplistic?

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      • Yes indeed, that is a– the!– central theme. I just finished Voice Of The Fire, and it has a lot to say about “the spark gap between world and word.”

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  11. whoah! very intriguing… I guess we can assume issue #12? trying to think if there’s any more of these comeuppances to be shown… maybe hekeziah, maybe japheth? I think I see a hint of tentacle monster at the edge of the frame! also, the figure in the panel above it, based on the stance and the circumstances, i’m guessing could be wantage?

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  12. I just got done reading ‘The Evil Clergyman’ at http://dagonbytes.com/thelibrary/lovecraft/theevilclergyman.htm
    I have to wonder what part of this material might play in to the story of Providence. It seems quite clearly to be set in the room in the steeple of St John’s church on Federal Hill. I’ve overlooked this story until now but am almost convinced that we will see some more connections there in the conclusion of Providence.

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  13. I was pretty stoked to see Peter Levenda is depicted in this one. He’s a very interesting guy and has been a figure in occult circles for many years now.

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  14. So at the risk of leaping forward on the first day, what could issue 12 possibly contain that hasn’t been covered in this issue? The ending of 11 seems definitive, does it not?

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    • There’s been some speculation that the FBI agents are going to study Black’s journal to try to find a way to stop the impending Yuggoth-ing. I think there’s a clue in there about how they can do it. At this point, it doesn’t appear that they know anything about Brears being pregnant with Cthulhu or what that means (although they do know she broke Sax and others out of the mental institution). I think there’s enough information in Black’s journal for them to piece that together, though.

      In the journal entry at the back of issue 6, Black transcribes portions of Hali’s book, some of which describe ways to bind or ward off “presences born from the ocean” and “presences pertaining to the aethers or the earthly element”. This portion, however, also discusses the fact that “at last the one [shall come] that shall dream a new past that can include his birth, his sovereignty, and his dreaming” and “all time is a dream of the great dreamer who is not yet born[.]”

      Then, in the journal entry in issue 8, in the portion where Black describes the strange dream he had, we find a pretty clear description of Carl Perlman as “a defeated-looking man in middle age who may have had a withered hand or something[.]” If that catches the FBI agents’ eyes and they read on, almost directly following that they’d find this: “Where he’d been standing was a naked woman, calm and unembarrassed by her public nudity…except that this one had a far more serious and, indeed, ominous look in her eyes, and also appeared to be in the later stages of a very bulbous pregnancy…the pregnant woman had an intact copy of what looked like Hali’s Booke beneath her arm, resting against her bulging belly…She said, ‘I think I once stayed at the same hotel as you did, with the same view out the window[.]'” Perlman should easily be able to figure out that this is Brears.

      If the FBI agents can put this stuff together, there’s a shot they’ll realize that (1) these events depend on the birth of the great dreamer, (2) Brears is likely pregnant with the great dreamer, and (3) they may be able to stop the Yuggoth-ing if they can stop Brears from giving birth (i.e., by killing her).

      From our perspective, it’s interesting that the first portion about the great dreamer comes at the half-way point of the series in issue 6, and the second portion about Perlman and Brears comes in issue 8, when the Messenger meets the Redeemer and everything kicks off.

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  15. ^ haha what about the last page?? the saga of RB may, sadly, be done though. as a semi-devoted neonomicon hater, i’m reserving judgement but let’s just say i’m sad to see Robert go! shout outs to everyone who predicted literally everything in this issue months in advance (and those that predicted other interesting possibilities)

    Perusing Jacen’s twitter i see he says he’s not yet completed issue 12, and these delays were planned by avatar from the start, because they wanted to get the completed issues out quickly (although now he’s behind on his own accord). Wonder if we’ll have to wait beyond march!

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  16. It was a lot of fun seeing everyone’s predictions in the lead up to this issue. I’m glad I posted my thoughts back in August because no one would’ve believed me if I said I guessed where Alan Moore was going next with issue 11!

    As for issue 12, if the last image from issue 11 is any hint… there’s about to be a whole lot of tickling going on. 🙂

    I will be back to this thread after I’ve read through 11 one or two more times.

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    • regular cover looks like the macgregor bridge from manchester… But it was destroyed in 1936! what does it mean… bridge motif complete and confirmed

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      • MS, what makes you say that? I found a bunch of photos of the McGregor Bridge, and none of them bear much resemblance to this one. If it *is* a specific bridge, I’d love to know which one…

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      • well the only real life photo i’ve seen is the one on the issue 5 annotations page, but am I going mad? to me it looks just like the bridge featured in #’s 5 and 6. closest angle to the #12 cover is in #6, page 7. you get a good look at the paving of the bridge behind elspeth’s head in #5, page 6. the railing, the girders sticking out, and if you compare to the real-life picture, you can see the concrete foundations that are now growing fungus. only difference I see is the pattern of the crossed-wire railing on the left side appears different, but that could just be the angle or (sorry jacen) a continuity error on this cover.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Huh! I’d forgotten this bridge appeared before, so went googling, and most of the pictures I found looked quite different than the #12 cover. But you’re right, this is quite clearly the same bridge from #5/6, and the photo that Joe Linton found.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Ah, ok I see them.

    And yeah, wow.
    I think Perlman is going to lose.

    Also, notes on the covers.
    HPL is the Portrait cover because humanity is becoming the fiction.
    The Pantheon cover’s focus isn’t Cthulhu, but the human shaped wraiths around him.

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  18. You know, given how Lovecraft takes the position usually taken by a fictional character in the Portrait Variant – here’s my guess for an aspect of the end of the series.

    Perlman succeeds. He’s able to bind the Old Ones.

    But all of this has placed renewed interest in Lovecraft and now led to a resurgence in interest in Robert Black’s journal.
    Leading to Avatar Press to get Alan Moore to write a comic book miniseries based on the journal.

    ie. the premonition of Perlman looking defeated with a book with purple handwriting isn’t Black’s journal…but is Providence itself. The knowledge still lives on. It will still eventually happen. The End.

    It fits neatly within the metafiction that Moore liked in that interview with Brian Higgs.

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  19. By the way, am I the only one who thinks that growing stuff from Regular and Dreamscape #12 covers (https://factsprovidence.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/prov_12_reg.jpg and https://factsprovidence.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/prov_12_dreamwrap_color.jpg) looks pretty much like… that?

    For we have already seen that Qlipoth (Sphiroth?) thing above Club Zothique… I guess that’s kind of “phisical body” of Yog-Sothoth, spreading in all directions exactly from the Red Hook church… I will be glad if the last issue’s name is “The Crawling Chaos”.

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  20. been thinking about the conspicuous lack of Whisperer in Darkness featured in Providence, and the corresponding lack of Mi-Go. We got just a flavor of the elder things in Hali’s book, but nothing even approaching an appearance. The Yithians only get the allusion via “Paisley”. Do you guys suppose Moore is leaving/has left out these Lovecraftian aliens because its just too much to deal with, and he wanted to concentrate on the reality vs dreams/surreality/unknowable gods angle of lovecraft rather than the prehistory stuff, or perhaps they’re going to show up in some way shape or form in the final issue? I myself have never been a fan of the descriptions and subsequent designs of the elder things or Yithians (soo silly-sounding), but i’ll bet burrows could have concocted a frightening mi-go if given the chance.

    It just seems weird to me that there wasn’t an issue #4.5 where Black went up and visited with Akeley, maybe stop at the martense mansion to boot. But alas, nothing to be done!

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  21. The mutant Fungus/protoplasm we see at the end of #11 and the cover of #12 might well play a part. This could have connections to The Colour Out of Space, He, Fungi From Yuggoth, even the similar stuff from William Hope Hodgson’s The Voice in the Night.

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