Friday, 11 May 2012

The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt

 At my book club this past weekend, we were discussing The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt.  This classic science fiction/fantasy novel was first published as two short stories in All-Story Weekly and was reworked and published as a complete novel in 1919.

Dr. David Throckmartin is traveling by boat to Melbourne, Australia in search of scientific equipment and men to accompany him on a quest.  During the course of the trip he relates a fantastical story to Dr. Walter Goodwin .  Upon Throckmartin's disappearance from the ship, Goodwin feels compelled to carry out his request, return to Nan-Tauach and find his missing wife and companions.  Goodwin is skeptical that a beam of seven colours of moon light can actually capture a person and transport him or her to a distant location, yet he can't account for Throckmartin's absence from the ship.

Goodwin does purchase the required equipment and on his way to Nan-Tauach (real location is Nan Modal) 'finds' several companions to assist him in his quest.  One of which is a Viking who saw his wife and daughter abducted by the same hoovering moon lights.
The setting for this book is fascinating, both the above ground area of Nan Modal and the mythical underground world.  I am still wondering how such a vast underground tavern would not collapse.

During our book club meeting we discussed several aspects of this story.

Good versus Evil (or light versus dark)  This shows up in sunshine and moon light.  At the time of the novel, the dark is in power, hence the use of the moon light to abduct and control people. 

Love - The good benevolent beings that helped to create this underground world also created a child.  They loved it so much, that even when it started doing bad things, they could not destroy it.  Of course, this bad  being is using the moon for it's powers.

One area of contention is how differently the men and women are portrayed.  The men are all manly men.  They are big, brawny types that will fare well in hand to hand fights.  A Viking, an Irish man. The woman are totally different.  They are either the virtuous virgin, or her exact nasty  opposite, a beautiful woman of the most low of virtue.  How much of this is the author's opinion and how much it is a product of the time in which it is written is unknown to us the modern readers.

On the whole, I found this a worthwhile read.  The wording was awkward and often required me to re-read passages.  When I remembered to use an Irish brogue for Larry's dialogue it read much better.  This is not a book to be rushed through, it is quite wordy with lengthy descriptions everywhere.

Photos were taken at the Rockwood Conservation Area outside of Guelph, Ontario.


Felicity Grace Terry said...

Though science fiction/fantasy is not my usual genre of choice every now and then I read of a book and think ooh that sounds interesting and this is one such book, thanks for sharing your thoughts Heather.

Paulina said...

So sorry I had to miss the book-club meeting, but I'm glad you shared some of the ideas from the meeting!