Who is A. Merritt? You could be forgiven if you haven’t heard of him lately; I hadn’t heard of him until just over a year ago. Which is crazy, because the Avon paperback copy of The Metal Monster I’m reading brags that Abraham Merritt is a household name with over 5 million copies of his novels in paperback sold.
I was sadly unable to finish The Metal Monster in time for his birthday today, but am hoping to have it read by the weekend.
How can I describe Merritt’s writing?
Every line is filled with profound and poetic beauty, amazingly evocative. It makes for beautiful, if challenging, reading. Imagine, if you can, a Lovecraft who wrote about dashing heroes and beautiful, mysterious heroines. Imagine a pulp story and plot written by one of the English greats of the former centuries. It looks like silly sci-fi trash but reads like very little you’d find outside of collegiate lit courses.
Lovecraft himself describes the book as “the most remarkable presentation of the utterly alien and non-human that I have ever seen”. The man was Lovecraft before Lovecraft, and that Chambers was an influence on both writers is immediately apparent.
One thing that fascinates me about the Monster in The Metal Monster is how different it is from any portrayal of ‘scary evil sci-fi robots’; contrary to any of the artistic depictions I’ve seen, the giant moving shapes (cubes, cones, pyramids, discs and spheres) that in disconnected by synchronous motion form these things are incredibly bizarre and otherworldly. So much so the only modern design I’ve seen that comes even close to such a robot is the shape changing Vectorman.
I do plan on reading more Merritt in the future, but I may confine myself to his shorter works. Though his writing is beautiful, it can verge on the exhausting, so may be best taken in in smaller doses than novel-length works.