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SMITH, CLARK-ASHTON – UBBO-SATHIA in THE EMPEROR OF DREAMS Fantasy Masterworks  #26.  2002 Gollancz 

 

Classic short horror story. In 1933, in London, a man browses idly around an antique store. He takes a liking to an unusual crystal orb, and purchases it, surprisingly cheaply.  He takes it home, and realises that it ties in with his studies of arcane forbidden books on the supernatural. One such work refers to the entity Ubbo Sathia, a primeval evil force that predates all life on Earth. He restudies the books, and stares into the artefact. It gives him visions of an ancient sorcerer.  Who seems to have previously owned the artefact?  The man becomes more obsessed with his study and stares more and more into the orb, until one day, it takes him over completely and sucks him in, regressing him back through time. He is now one with the sorcerer, possibly being a reincarnation of him. However, the next thing that happens is that he and the sorcerer are sucked further back in time, even becoming pterodactyl’s for a brief period, before being drawn back to become one with the primordial ooze.  Only then does the man from 1933 catch a glimpse of the creature called Ubbo-Sathia, into which he is now absorbed.  The author now informs us that the sorcerer was never seen again after his mysterious disappearance, and the same disappearance occurs for the man from London. A chilling story with a very vivid description of the prehistoric environment to which its doomed protagonist is drawn.  The casual language hides a sense of something cosmic and momentous going on here. The casual opening gives few clues as to what will occur later on.  It could perhaps tell us more about the sorcerer and his efforts to understand the nature of Obbo Nathia, but that is by the by.  http://alangullette.com/lit/smith/

 

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