The Hounds of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long

The Hounds of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long

Frank Belknap  Long was born in 1901 in Harlem, New York (not the Netherlands) and died in 1992 aged 92 in Manhattan.

He was a horror and science fiction writer and is most famous for his contribution to the stories of the Cthulhu Mythos.

The Cthulhu Mythos begins with H P Lovecraft, but many other authors have contributed towards the corpus of stories that the faithful call ‘The Canon’.   It was his 1921 story The Eye Above The Mantel that caught Lovecraft’s eye. That story was a pastiche of Edgar Allan Poe and I have elsewhere commented on that histrionic overblown prose that contains many screaming crazy dudes and occult blasphemous horrors which is found first and best in Poe, then Lovecraft and here in this lovely story.

Frank and Howard maintained a long correspondence. Lovecraft was famous for his lengthy and multiple pen friendships as he sat shut up and nervous in his room. He became a mentor to Frank. 

Frank contributed to the pulp magazines

The Hounds of Tindalos

Chalmers. Prefers illuminated manuscripts to adding machines and leering stone gargoyles to automobiles. Who doesn’t?  He has a long nose and slightly receding chin. His bookcase has medieval pamphlets about sorcery, witchcraft and black magic (surely triple tautology)  but again, what’s not normal in any of this? Although I think that Frank is setting it up for the norms so they get the idea that Chalmers is a bit weird. 

He has the same name as the Australian Philosopher David Chalmers who famously came up with the term ‘the hard problem’ to describe how in a materialist way of thinking, matter can give rise to subjective experience. It’s as hard a problem as how cows make lollipops. We simply can’t figure either of them out.

So, Frank is using ‘modern science’ in the guise of Einstein to undermine the self-confident materialists, particularly regarding time. He throws this is in like spice. He lets us know that Einstein is relative: we each have our own versions. 

 Our interlocutor is our avatar. Think how hard it would be to write a story with one character? You need two to bring out the exposition. Anyway, on we go, getting more and more theatrical with each sentence. 

But this idea about curves and angles seems original and it is quite weird. Like Lovecraft’s Colour Out of Space, an abstract idea like a colour or an angle can be jarringly weird. Weird is all about juxtapositions that should not be, and taking things out of context because they are juxtaposed with other, odd contents.

It sort of reminded me of H G Wells’ The Time Machine particularly the 1950s film version. 

The Hounds of Tindalos was the first Cthulhu story written by anyone else than Lovecraft and we have references to Dholes and the Elder Races. Other than that, there is no clear connection, unless a Mythos buff can correct me. The Hounds of Tindalos are not actual dogs in this story. Other Mythos writers like Ramsey Campbell, Lin Carter, Brian Lumley and Peter Cannon reference the Hounds.  The the name Tindalos sounds Greek and there are references ‘The Greeks had a name for them, ‘ I don’t think Tindalos means anything.

The name Halpin is one I have only come across before in the work of Ambrose Bierce The Death of Halpin Frayser . Perhaps it is a common name in America, but I’ve heard in speech here. 

20lb of plaster of Paris seems a lot. Despite the plaster of Paris smoothing out the corners of the room (I should have liked to have seen that), the Hounds find a way in by causing an earthquake which causes the plaster to fall and thus angles are created…

A hopeless maniac. I could tell you about those.   

With the later excerpts from the news and the story of his neighbour who’d gone to let his cat in, I wondered if there wasn’t humour here?  The superintendent on finding the body walks to the open window and stares for five minutes at the building opposite. Then presumably he’s fine.

Amusingly our anonymous interlocutor is the main suspect. And of course he’s anonymous so we can’t help the police even if we’d wanted to, which of course we would.  

It seems that the lack of enzymes is what cause the hounds and other extra temporal creatures of their ilk to be immortal  

The end proves the futility of biology. We saw that coming.

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