Competition Results! Announcing the Winner of Original 1936 Astounding Stories

Inside Astounding Stories march 1936

Inside Astounding Stories march 1936, Lovecraft story

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land info pageYou may (or may not) know we recently had a competition to write an app store review of our game in the style of H.P.Lovecraft.  The one we judged to be the best one would win an original copy of a 1936 pulp magazine featuring one of H.P.Lovecraft’s stories.  I secretly was kind of hoping that nobody would enter and I could keep the prize; however that was not to be.  My sadness at having to let go of such classic bit of horror history is more than matched by the pleasure we’ve had in reading through all the entries.

It is a cliché at such times to talk about how hard it has been to pick a winner – and it is true in this case.  It has been hard to get down to a single winner, but we had to made a decision and so we did.  However we want to thank all who entered; there is a lot of Lovecraftian talent out there!

Before we get to the winner, we want to share a few ‘highly commended‘ reviews (in no particular order):

Ciaran Hilton’s entry:

Page torn from the journal of the late Edward Jennings

26 February 2012

If you are reading this now, then chances are I am already dead. The game which I bought on whim contains such inconceivable horrors that I tremble to my very core just writing this. I dare not sleep; for my dreams are plagued with terrible nightmares of ungodly monsters of unnatural shapes, and of great cyclopean towers which spread vast into the black clouds. It is this abject horror that has led me to desperation. I can no longer bear the strain of the mortal world, I have decided to take my life, this very night I shall plummet from the roof of Arkham Asylum into the terrible abyss below, freeing my soul from these ghastly, abominable visions. I emplore you dear reader, if you fear for your sanity, then do not play this game. However, if you want to open up your mind to new, terrifying vistas of reality, such as the ones I have endured, then do so…

Sebgmoy’s entry:

Ne’er had my mind beheld such a hideous fantasy of occult and macabre than when I played that terrible game from Redwasp. When first I came apon that disquieting game, my heart stopped in ecstasy. The alluring haunt I felt at its appearance, twisted and foreboding, filled me with delight and bewilderment, and a strange form of complexity in the story told reminded me impeccably of those written by that long deceased philosopher, maddened by the disturbed nature of his fantasies. I spent many unsettling nights since the first gazing at the thing in wonderment and awe, unable to deviate my fixation from it’s fantastic splendor. I had become obsessed, spending the days shunning the light and the nights entranced, exploring the dystopian world of chaos that lie within, when finally it shewn me it’s true form. So horrible I dare not repeat the nature of the things I saw in that game, save for my paranoid jitteriness in my waking state and the nightmares that curse my slumber, and the awful vision of a thousand-eyed monster who whispers to me, in a foul, unrecognizable tongue, words that chill me to the bone. Never have I came across, and never again do I wish to, something so terribly disturbing as that game from Redwasp.

Alex Livingston’s entry:

“We are all roamers of vast spaces and travellers in many ages.”
– Beyond the Wall of Sleep

We call them ‘games’, these simulated worlds in which we strain and suffer. Whereas most simply entertain, there exist games of curious and abnormal aspect which reveal to us the sinister, nameless worlds of terror.

I sat by the gaping window of my study one cool evening, singularly unaware of the queer events which were to follow. Before long, I unwittingly found myself in a realm distant from mine in both place and time. The First Great War became the setting for a story in which a small band of soldiers and occultists discovered hideous, indescribable things. The enemy had formed an unholy pact with an Old Ones, and was forming a blasphemous army of Eldritch monstrosities.

Soon, the unknowable mysteries of this place captured my feverish mind. I directed my intrepid squad through the loathsome, defiled trenches of the battlefield into decadent old crypts filled with strange ghouls and men of evil. I found my heartrate increasing as I recognized the black visions of the thin man from Providence.

Would my tactical prowess suit the task at hand? On each turn I prayed for success, for a lucky pistol shot or a successful dodge. God, would I survive the next swipe of an unearthly tentacle? Would I lose what remained of my sanity?

And now you find me as I am today, driven into frightful madness by a game which has shewed me a realm both wondrous and terrible. I present these unlikely statements to you as facts for your investigation and analysis, that you may construe them as suits your mind and temperament. I must encourage any who wish to descend into these hideous visions to take caution, lest you are drawn in by this game and cursed to see it in your mad dreams forever.

Inside Astounding Stories march 1936

Chris Heard’s entry:

Many are the terrors that war can inflict upon the human mind, but even the worst of these pale in comparison to what I experienced under Captain Hill’s command during the Great War. We thought ourselves opposed merely by German soldiers and odd cultists, but even as vicious and brutish as these men were, they proved but the merest shadow of the macabre horrors that they presaged. Even now, I can hardly believe that those vile reanimates really existed, brought back to a loathsome semblance of life by Dr. Kaul’s foul machinations and sorceries. Still less can I dare to remember the other “entities” that execrable man summoned from somewhere … else.

How often did the merest sight of our foes drive me to the very mouth of madness! How often did I rejoice, albeit fleetingly, when Miss Gold’s psychoanalytic ministrations restore to me some measure of sanity! And how often did I feel that strange, almost eldritch sensation that the French call “déjà vu,” for not less than a dozen times could I have sworn that we had fought that very battle, on that very battlefield, not more than a few hours before! It were as if some malign intelligence demanded that we replay our scenes, day after day…

Perhaps I have spent too many sessions listening to psychoanalytic musings, or perhaps I have inhabited too many foxholes with our eccentric guide, Brightmeer, who insisted on dressing in ridiculous garb reminiscent of that fellow Chandraputra, who fancies himself a swami and sometimes roams these grounds. For I have begun to question not merely my own sanity, but indeed my very existence. All men have felt, in dreams, that sensation of utter helplessness and even uselessness, of desperately needing to complete some task but of finding one’s actions constrained, as if one needed permission from some transcendent puppet master. Yet I have felt these sensations so often that I begin to doubt whether I myself am real, or merely the figment of some greater imagination.

But I digress. Surely I am more than smoke and mirrors, more than some being of flickering light like those men in the cinema newsreels who now fight bravely not just in Europe, but also in North Africa and the Pacific. They try to keep us away from the news here, so as not to upset us, but yes, I know that our war did not end all wars. These new Germans, these Nazis, have their own occultish predilections, not unlike the cult we put down. I even hear rumors—no, whispers, susurrous ticklings at the corners of my conscious faculties, vague shadows of speech that seem to combine Teutonic and Oriental syllables with those eldritch words that I heard Kaul and even Brightmeer himself intone. As I remember with affection my dear homing pigeon, Leona, and her key role in our success, I desperately hope that Germany’s new Eastern allies are not inclined to call up out of the depths of the Pacific something infinitely more horrible than even the cyclopean terrors that Kaul summoned, for then who knows what kind of air strike might be required to secure a few more decades of mankind’s short and tenuous foothold on this planet?

Jeromy Schulz-Arnold’s entry:

What was left to ration we did. Ammo, food, water the latter two growing easier with the ineffable attrition from tentacled, diabolical, cadaverous evil. I am down to Thelma, my trusty Webly pistol but with only four rounds to spare. My fifth and final shot is for me when I’m crippled and crawling; starving and parched; facing the overbearing maleficence that skitters cacophonously beneath our boots. To push on so wantonly across No Man’s Land is folly, but to linger even to tend to Walter’s trench foot is suicide.

What’s worse is the awful dreams that lurk in the fleeting respite one can steal between the echoing booms of mortars and the remote crackle of a Devil’s Paintbrush. Dreams of seething, flabby, ungulate, evil writhing through cities of impossible, ail-inducing Geometry. Discords of mad piping, a symphony for the insane, herald their lumbered approach. These nightmares began after Owen grabbed a bizarre metal tablet from the slobbering maw of a toothy horror that dragged the Dough Boy’s commander to the void below the trenches. It’s putrid saliva caused sores and festering pustules unlike any trench rot I’ve yet to see. Boils bursting with leech-like skeins which grow into the flailing horrors that rent so many asounder. The tablet is about the size of a mess kit only thinner; less than a half-inch in breadth. Upon one face is a collection of phosphorescent,esoteric glyphs. Script the likes of which I’ve not seen. Owen sits rocking on his knees deciphering it’s weird symbols mumbling to himself and cursing unnamable, obscene, incandescent doom. I’ve relieved him of his Springfield rifle as his mind has cracked.

Thelma is heavy in my hand now. The grime of battle is thick on her frame, and would be under my nails were they not bitten to the quick and bleeding. The time for hand wringing is over; three more rotten figures in tattered uniforms shuffle toward as. We curse and shoot and kill for ten score more paces of this trench-scarred, barren, scorched, French mud; this Wasted Land.

And finally on to our winner, Luke Reeves, to whom the prize is in the post too…

I am not mad. That they found my wretched form in the darkest recess of the library long after closing, staring into a pane of blackened glass and maniacally gesturing at imaginary denizens within, proves only that the twisted minds at Red Wasp Design have succeeded in channelling the Great Old Ones, unleashing their eldritch horror into our unsuspecting homes. I imagine the jaundiced, hunched forms toiling at their arcane art, rictus grins broadening at the thought of the psychological terror they have realised in their “Wasted Land”, at the innocent minds corrupted by this absorbing, addictive “pastime”.

Peer through the glass and the wonders of science displace time and space, revealing the blasted, charnel fields of France during the Great War. Through the application of non-Euclidean geometries, the flat plane gains depth, our mortal perception fooled into apprehending three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface. Beneath us, then, the tale begins with Captain Hill, a gentlemanly, no-nonsense officer in His Majesty’s army, and the doughty Sapper Sid Brown. That these two unremarkable soldiers are soon to be indelibly scarred by a spasm of cosmic evil is heralded by the arrival of Professor Brightmeer, a specialist in all matters of occult lore. The learned academic reveals that the machine gun’s piteous harvest of Europe’s youth is being put to infernal use by the deranged genius, Dr Kaul.

Your guidance will lead the pursuit through the labyrinthine tangle of inhumane barbed wire, mustard gas and enemies, both prosaic and inhuman. You will choose the tools and skills, mundane and alien, that will be called on to stem the tide of chaos that wells, swarming and foetid, against the thin veneer of civilisation. And when the valourous few face the horde, you will be called on to save them from gibbering catatonia or to embrace their mania, as they struggle with a world turned inside out, where dreams are more real than waking reality and the universe is no longer benignly indifferent to the fate of humankind.

To reveal more here would be to risk the sanity of the reader, whose days of blithe enjoyment of sun and smiles may not yet have been stolen by knowledge of what waits beyond the stars: of the things that are not dead but eternally slumber, of those beings who would claim this fragile reality of ours and bend it to their own, unknowable purpose – remain blissfully ignorant, I plead with you! But if you cannot look away from the unseen, if you too must delve where the mad prophet’s visions have led many seekers of erudite knowledge, get thou to “Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land” and rejoice.

I am not mad…

Well done Luke and thanks again to all of you who entered. If you are inspired by these to have a go, while there are no prizes on offer, feel free to share them with us. Who knows, we may post more Lovecraftian reviews that we like here on the site? We also hope this won’t be the last competition we run, so stay in touch…

Fhtagn.

About Tomas

Design & Production Director at Auroch Digital. Designer of Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land. Writing and blogging things that surprise, entertain and interest me...
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