- File Size: 956 KB
- Print Length: 226 pages
- Publisher: Musaicum Books (November 2, 2018)
- Publication Date: November 2, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07K4PFVTP
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,308,583 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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THE MOON POOL: A Sci-Fi Novel Kindle Edition
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The Moon Pool is the work I usually see cited as typical of Merritt’s work, and it is listed in Gary Gygax’s “Appendix N” as an influence on Dungeons and Dragons. Let’s dive into the Moon Pool and see what happens!
The Moon Pool is a lush work of prose. It isn’t quite my style, but I am reminded of something that the late Jerry Pournelle said about Ivanhoe; the point of the long descriptions was to transport people to places they had never been, in a era when you couldn’t immediately find an image of any place you wanted to see. Photography was well established in the 1920s, so that was perhaps less important than in Sir Walter Scott’s day, but nonetheless most of the audience of Merritt’s stories probably had never traveled far from their homes or seen the broad range of environments that Merritt had.
Whenever I delve into a work of this era, it almost always takes me a while to get into the groove with the prose, and not just because of the aforementioned verbose style. With popular works like this, I find that the word choice, phrasing, and background assumptions are just different enough to throw me off. The worst example of this was King – of the Khyber Rifles, Talbot Mundy’s 1916 adventure, which almost lost me in some early dialogue. Since I find the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica perfectly comprehensible, it clearly has something to do with how formal, academic language changes more slowly than everyday speech.
A stylistic choice I appreciated was that while Merritt did include some amount of science fantasy in the story, the detailed descriptions of the fantastic technologies had been redacted so as not to provide too much information to the Russians. In this way, 1919 was sufficiently like 2020 to help me connect with the story.
The Moon Pool as a story is a lost world adventure, inspired by the monumental ruins of Nan Madol in the South Pacific, which also inspired Lovecraft’s lost city of Ryloth. Merritt’s description of the South Pacific is evocative, and I enjoyed his ability to accurately describe the vast numbers of unusual people who populated the tramp steamers of the day. Out of that itinerant population, Goodwin, the narrator, assembles a band of adventurers [here is where I really see the D&D influence] as he seeks to rescue his friend Throckmartin from the Dweller in the Moon Pool.
The mix in this pulp classic is a little different, as no one knew or cared about the genres we are used to almost 100 years later. There is some cosmic horror, some science fantasy, some romance, and some political intrigue. Merritt pulls all this together into one grand adventure that is very much worth the price of entry. With Hollow Earth style stories like this I find it a bit harder to generate the needed suspension of disbelief, but I also know that this is a time-bound phenomenon, as nothing ages faster than science fiction [even when it is really good]. I’ve read Campbellian scifi from the 50s that was more unbelievable to me, and I know that some of my favorite books now will probably seem a little odd 100 years from now, so I suggest that the effort needed to see someone else’s favorite story with new eyes is worth the effort.
One of the things that got me into reading pulp classics like The Moon Pool was an interest in seeing popular literature from an age where Christian belief was taken for granted, along with an interest in seeing the fictional influences of Dungeons and Dragons in a new light.. C. L. Moore’s short stories in particular struck me as being explicitly Christian, along with Poul Anderson’s works, but The Moon Pool was almost a little scandalous.
At this point I intend to move into spoiler territory, so if you care about spoilers in a 100 year old book, you should skip this part.
What I mean by this is that early on in the book, one of the merry band of adventurers assembled by Goodwin is moved to abandon his Christian beliefs when the Dweller in the Moon Pool steals his wife and daughter. Olaf Huldricksson apostatizes in favor of the warlike gods of his ancestors when a horror from the deep kidnaps his family. I was honestly a little shocked, but it is all comprehensible to me. Merritt’s work is just a little different than Three Hearts and Three Lions, where the mere name of Jesus is enough to send wicked things reeling.
When that doesn’t work for Huldricksson, he turns to Thor instead. I honestly have no idea whether that would have been scandalous to his audience, but it was scandalous to me. However, at the end, Huldricksson gets his revenge, but perishes in the attempt, bringing to mind Matthew 26:52 “Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” And then I wasn’t so sure.
That unexpected complexity is exactly what I came for, and I am happy that I found it. While the The Moon Pool is very much not in the modern style, it is a great read, and worth a look if you’ve never had a chance.
An scientific adventure taken up by a family of young scientists at the mysterious islands of Papua, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, results in the disappearance of the entire family into a abysss of a strange opening in one of islands. Later investigation and expedition carried out by Dr Goodwin with the help of a war pilot Larry O’Keefe and seaman Olaf Huldrickson to find the whereabouts of the missing family. The team enter the aperture in the island and realize that there is a whole world of strange living beings beneath the ocean, who adapted to the subterranean living centuries ago when a large piece of rock separated from the Earth and became the Moon, centuries ago. There they discover that these people down there are planning an attack on the Earth and its living things soon to re-claim their original land. The team somehow learn their tricks by mingling with them and foil their attempt to come back to the surface by destroying their wicked leader and priestess Yolara with the help of Lakla, a beautiful daughter of ancient Gods (The Silent One). The Silent Ones (God of the Good ones) ultimately destroy The Shining One (God of the Wicked) in a fierceful war between the two armies in the abyss, thus permanently closing the portal of the underground world and sealing the chances of their attack and destruction of the present world.
Positives: Existence of another world beneath the surface of the Earth and their plans to capture the land above them with their latest weapon system much advanced to those above is the best part of the story. The reader is taken through the heights of fantasy in this beautiful book. It is quite interesting to those who are interested in nuclear physics, atomic behaviour, space science etc wherein many scientific principles and processes have been cleverly explained by the author through a fantasy story. A book which generates further interest in knowing about secrets of the evolution of Earth and other space related bodies. The powerful influence of Moon and its rays over some phenomenon on Earth is well explained scientifically.
Negatives: A person who is a layman to science and its wonderful creations will find this book to be absolutely Greek and Latin. Too much description of the so-called beauty of the other world has slightly over burdened the story. More clarity on the Shining One and Silent One could have been emphasized.
My rating is 2.75 out of 5