The Shadow Over Innsmouth with Ghost Dance
reviewed by James M. Palmer
(Originally published on SciFiNow October 26, 2000)
Audio Book (Approx. 90 min.) $11.95 by The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company
The Shadow Over Innsmouth is even better than The Rats in the Walls. It sounds like a short story, with the main character, who is also the narrator, describing his surroundings with rich, vivid, often Lovecraftian sentences. In this story, a man named Orin Phillips is celebrating his coming of age by going on a site-seeing tour of New England. Balking at the high train fare for the last leg of his journey, Phillips opts to take the bus, which goes through Innsmouth, a fishing village that is not thought of very highly by its fellow New Englanders. Apparently, the townsfolk engage in pagan ritual and have a strange, fishlike appearance. Curious, Phillips does a lot of digging, talking to people and doing research in a library.
Here again we Lovecrafts own background emerging. He didnt have a lot of worldly knowledge, but he did spend plenty of time doing historical research on the history of New England. Slowly and meticulously, Orin Phillips pieces together the long history of Innsmouth, and we see and hear it along with him with the help of flashbacks and talks with various locals.
A hundred years before, Innsmouth was a thriving fishing town. But when that dried up, a Captain Marsh supposedly made a deal with the Devil, which brought the fish back. This devil turns out to be Dagon, one of Lovecrafts pantheon of gods. Half man, half fish creatures agreed to supply Innsmouth with fish and valuable gold headpieces in exchange for mating rights with the towns citizens. If that isnt bizarre enough, Orin discovers his own strange link with the unusual denizens of Innsmouth.
The Shadow Over Innsmouth is paired with a shorter original piece called Ghost Dance, a story of a Western theme park where the Indian performers are doing an ancient ritual called the Ghost Dance, which will bring back the buffalo and make the White Man go away. I would have liked another short Lovecraft tale here, but its a funny yet sobering story and well worth a listen.
For more information on these and other productions, contact the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company at 3577-A Chamblee Tucker Rd #189 Atlanta GA 30341-4409, or visit them on the Internet at www.artc.org.
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