The Shadow Out of Time: The Corrected Text

In retrospect, this retro review from February 4, 2006 probably should have had some brief description of the story’s plot.

Published first in Astounding Stories, it’s Lovecraft’s most blatantly science fictional story with body switching, time travel, ancient alien races, menacing ruins. And, yes, that’s the original pulp cover for the story.

Review: The Shadow Out of Time: The Corrected Text, by H. P. Lovecraft with annotations by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, 2001.Shadow Out of Time

While this story wouldn’t be the entry I’d recommend to Lovecraft, it is definitely one of his major works. And this edition is worth reading for the beginning and hardcore fan.

The editors’ introduction details how long Lovecraft had been considering this story, his inspirations, and how he, as before in his great creative year of 1927, undertook a reading program to sharpen his style and improve his writing before starting it, his most science-fictional, tale. They also offer some intriguing observations about the specific dates in protagonist Peaslee’s life and their significance to Lovecraft’s.

As to the annotations, it’s not the largely unnecessary vocabulary lessons that Joshi and Schultz offer that are valuable, but how they point out similarities in motifs and language to other Lovecraft works, specific factual sources Lovecraft used, and the many links between this and other Cthulhu Mythos stories of Lovecraft and his friends. Even fans who have read this story more than once will probably learn something new in these notes.

I can’t say as I noticed any difference between the corrected text and earlier versions of the story, but then I didn’t look at the appendix showing all the textual variations. But it’s there for the really hardcore Lovecraft fan and scholar.


More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

The Lovecraft page.

10 thoughts on “The Shadow Out of Time: The Corrected Text

  1. Planetary Defense Commander August 25, 2015 / 12:51 am

    I guess those things on the cover are supposed to be unspeakable horrors from another dimension, but the artist kind of made them look cute.

  2. marzaat August 25, 2015 / 6:01 pm

    Those would be the “Great Race”: immense rugose cones ten feet high, and with head and other organs attacked to foot-thick, distensible limbs spreading from the apexes” speaking by “clicking or scraping of huge paws or claws attached to the end of two of their four limbs”.

    Artist Howard V. Brown — no, the name means nothing to me — makes them neither majestic or awesome.

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