THE DISCOVERY OF THE DEAD (1910) – Halloween Month continues with this look at a work written by Allen Upward.
This eerie tale is told in the form of a series of scientific reports about the experiments of a Russian scientist named Karl Luecke. While researching beyond the visible light spectrum he discovers necrolites, a way of making visible what remains of human beings after death.
These entities, which he dubs “necromorphs,” look like glowing brains, spinal columns and nervous systems (see the cover illustration). Necromorphs cannot stand sunlight and dwell underground by day.
Luecke conducts a few “interviews with a necromorph” to compile more details on humanity’s posthumous existence. The scientist is even able to make contact with his late father as well as prominent figures like Edgar Allan Poe and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz.
Disturbingly, after further research leads Karl to an entire city of the dead, he discovers that life after death includes a very dark element. Lesser necromorphs are tormented by more powerful entities called dynamorphs.
Those dynamorphs torture their victims with fire, making Luecke speculate that this may be the origin of stories about Hell. Even the dynamorphs fear higher beings above them, beings that Karl names pneumorphs, possibly equating to traditional concepts of angels.
Amid the rising possibility that the dead have been deceiving him all along, luring him into danger, the scientist is invited to an audience with the highest ranking dynamorph.
We learn that this entity is called the Evil One, and Karl Luecke’s experiments end with him bringing doom upon himself in typical “He tampered in God’s domain” fashion.
Some may argue that The Discovery of the Dead is as much science fiction as horror but I felt that the Evil One and the possibility that the dead were suckering along Luecke all the way made it more of a horror story.
Allen Upward also wrote poetry, espionage and stories about ghost hunting. He committed suicide in 1926 and Ezra Pound started the snide joke that Upward killed himself because George Bernard Shaw won the Nobel Prize in Literature instead of himself.
Aside from Pound’s bit of snark there seems to be no evidence that that was what motivated Allen to take his own life, yet that tale is often recounted as fact.
FOR ISABELLA OF EGYPT, FEATURING A GOLEM, A MANDRAGORE, A LIVING DEAD MAN, A GYPSY WITCH AND A JEWISH SORCEROR CLICK HERE
FOR A NEGLECTED WEREWOLF NOVEL SET IN 1790s NEW YORK STATE CLICK HERE
FOR MORE HALLOWEEN ITEMS CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/halloween-season/
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