[For the October 21st highlight, click here.]
This next chapter of Zelazny’s novel begins with with the next leg of the running joke: the Thing in the Circle tries to entice Snuff with the form of a chihuahua, but Snuff declines the offer by bluntly claiming “Language barrier.” Snuff and Graymalk then venture up to Dog’s Nest for some hilltop recalculation of the pattern. While there, they are forced to take shelter from a storm, and discover a stone with strange engravings. Graymalk makes the offhand remark that she hopes “Nyarlahotep, Cthulhu, and all the rest of the unpronounceables” appreciate their efforts. Apparently, the Elder Gods are touchy, because they proceed to reach out through the suddenly-blazing stone and attempt to singe Graymalk with a lightning strike (Snuff wonders if such display of power “were simply another instance of the famous inscrutability which I sometimes think to be better understood as childishness”). The attack opens a gate, and the two familiars are drawn through it into the fantastic space of the Dreamworld (which hardcore fans of weird fiction will recognize as a nod to H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath). Upon arrival, Graymalk launches into a “litany of Dreamworld geography,” in dizzying mimicry of Lovecraft’s florid Orientalist description (e.g. “To the north again, one may behold the charnel gardens of Zura, place of unattained pleasures, the templed terraces of Zak, the double headlands of crystal at the harbor of Sona-Nyl, the spires of Thalarion…”). Zelazny’s knack for simultaneously pastiching and parodying the Lovecraftian, nowhere more evident than in this chapter, forms the highlight of the night of October 22nd.