‘The Blasted heath’ is a vacant, almost shunned deep wood valley by the West Hills of rural New England, a place no good for imagination with its withered vegetation and evasively muttered local legends. This novella, like atavistic Arkham mysteries, takes reader through the narrative of an unnamed outsider, in his quest to understand the queer happenings of Gardner Estate, following a meteorite fall.
The monster or alien or other dimensional entity in this book, is a colour, or takes the form of a colour, a colour unknown to us, and not of our cosmos.
In Lovecraftian horror, the little details that are left out for reader’s imagination usually embellish the ones that form the premise. Considering the time of publication(1927), I was amazed at the metallurgical details author put on that other worldly meteorite – a soft, ductile non homogeneous shrinking mass completely in contradiction with every definition. Miskatonic University analysis of the specimen, is said to have concluded traces of ‘Widmanstatten ferrite’ in its texture along with strong ‘silicon’ affinity and other unfathomable properties. Interestingly enough, the iron ore content goes well with frequent lightening at crate and Silicon, the semiconductor material, could, though arguably, give some scientific side to the strange colours. And the effect of ‘colour’ and meteorite to the surroundings and inhabitants, though archaically, draws close parallelism with modern day nuclear holocaust. Seemingly prophesying HPL was keen to leave the ‘unknown factor’ in a rather clever manner with protagonist’s outsider pov. Never are the readers credited with the authenticity of ‘strange days’, and Ammi Pierce, the sole inhabitant and spectator of the incident, for all we know is an unreliable narrator. Nevertheless, in all its openness and reticent narrative, The Colour out of Space had my preponderant attention buoyed up.
Though it should have been the other way around, ‘the blasted heath’ and Gardner Estate constantly reminded me of Mirkwood from Stranger Things and Keyhouse from Locke and Key. And the strangest part was, as usual, me being more immersed in Howard’s word flow and writing, than the creeping alien horror this story is famous for.