I couldn’t get through this one. For the first time in 44 books, I gave up on a Lost reference – A. Merritt’s The Moon Pool.
I was on the fence about this one anyway. Lostpedia cites the book as a possible reference because the underwater Looking Glass DHARMA station contained a moon pool. That seemed like a stretch. The book turned out to be rather awful to boot, so I put it down 72 pages in.
That actually felt quite nice, since I am notoriously stubborn about giving up on books that I don’t enjoy. I’d estimate that I’ve given up on less than five books in my life. Which is kinda silly when you think about it – why would I force myself to read a book that I don’t enjoy out of pure stubbornness?
Anyway, The Moon Pool is about an expedition led by a man named Goodwin (told in the first person) to the ruins of Nan-Tauach on the island of Ponape. People keep falling victim to something called the Dweller, a Smoke Monster-esque creature that destroys every person that comes into contact with it. The Dweller seems to come out of the ruins at Nan-Tauach, although I am not entirely clear how Goodwin figured that out.
I get the sense that Merritt explores the nature of good and evil in the latter stages of the book. People that have been touched by the Dweller have faces that are halfway good and halfway evil…whatever the hell that means.
I gave up about the time that Goodwin and his expedition team staked out the Dweller’s lair for the first time. One of the members of the team finds out that his wife and child are dead after they were previously abducted by the Dweller. These are his exact words:
“I saw her,” he whispered. “I saw mine Freda when the stone swung. She lay there – just at my feet. I picked her up and I saw that mine Freda was dead. But I hoped – and I thought maybe mine Helma was somewhere here, too. So I ran with mine yndling – here -” His voice broke. “I thought maybe she was not dead,” he went on. “And I saw that” – he pointed at the Moon Pool – “and I thought I would bathe her face and she might live again. And when I dipped my hands within – the life left them, and cold, deadly cold, ran up through them into my heart. And mine Freda – she fell -“
People don’t talk like that. Granted, the character was Norwegian. Maybe that’s how Norwegian people talk. Either way, I don’t really want to read it.
In the foreword, Robert Silverberg wonders why A. Merritt is largely forgotten, even though he was extremely popular in his day and inspired many current science fiction writers. I would argue that passages like that are why Merritt is forgotten. He was a popular pulp writer, so I assume that language was standard for the time. But it just doesn’t stand the test of time.
Books become classics because they are either transcendent (i.e. anything by Dickens) or still accessible today (i.e. The Great Gatsby, The Count of Monte Cristo). This book is neither: the lost world concept was done both before and after this book and it reads like a parody of 1920s sci-fi rather than actual sci-fi.
The Wikipedia link gives a synopsis of the rest. Something about a lost civilization that lived under the ground. I suppose I could have tied that into Lost, but it just doesn’t seem worth it.
For some actual book reviews, return to my Literature of Lost series.