WHH Short Fiction: “The Finding of the Graiken”

Essay: “The Finding of the Graiken”, William Hope Hodgson, 1913.

This is another Sargasso Sea story (published a month after “The Thing in the Weeds”) with another ship caught in the Sargasso seaweed and besieged by a monster, here another giant cephalopod.

This story has a twist, though. Hodgson always managed to keep his Sargasso Sea stories fresh despite the repetitions of plot and setting.

The narrator has recently come into money and bought himself a yacht. His friend Barlow comes with him. Barlow’s fiancé had sailed on the Graiken twelve months ago, and the ship was presumed lost.

Barlow acts strangely, claims that he has some idea that the Graiken is trapped in a “vast world of seaweed”, and he knows exactly where. He asks the narrator to turn navigation of the ship over to him. The narrator refuses.

Barlow then takes to altering the compass and then inciting a mutiny against the narrator who is locked in his room for a few days.

The ship does find the Graiken; the narrator repents of not supporting Barlow and says there are no hard feelings between the two since Barlow was acting to save his fiancé.

After rescuing her and the other members of the ship, Barlow becomes sick and loses consciousness. When he recovers, he has no memory of events. It seems that, for weeks on end, he had been “in a sort of dream in a hyper state” which somehow enabled him to undertake great navigation feats to find the Graiken.

In the mutiny, the captain of the ship and two mates were confined. The narrator makes it up to them in a manner that he says is a story for another day.

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5 thoughts on “WHH Short Fiction: “The Finding of the Graiken”

  1. jameswharris January 20, 2020 / 11:42 am

    I admire your diligent exploration of William Hope Hodgson. I’m afraid I’ve gone on to other writers, but I hope to return to WHH one day. I did buy Awake in the Night Land but haven’t started reading it yet.

    • marzaat January 20, 2020 / 12:07 pm

      Well, I’m sticking with Hodgson for awhile since I’ve got a substantial backlog of reviews built up. However, I’ll probably review the next two titles I’ll be reading, two from David Hambling, as soon as I read them.

      I sympathize with moving on to other authors. I’ve started many reading deep reading projects for several authors, and I always end up getting distracted. I’m trying to be more focused these days.

      • jameswharris January 25, 2020 / 10:12 am

        My friend Mike tells me I chase too many squirrels. I start big reading projects all the time but seldom finish them. You really have stuck with WHH. I do eventually return to my big long-term project of reading all the best-of-the-year SF annuals. I started with 1939, and I’m currently on 1951. But I got bogged down because there were three that covered that year.

      • marzaat January 25, 2020 / 10:55 am

        Well, Hodgson is a fairly easy reading project though I still have to track down some rare bio material on him. Also, because of the peculiarities of Hodgson publishing, I’m doing individual stories. For other authors, I’d just do sole entries for collections and anthologies.

        I’m having a hard time restraining myself from diving into Stableford’s translations of French sf. It’s not like there isn’t a whole lot of English language sf I haven’t read.

        With single authors binge reading can get tedious. Sure, you come to recognize themes and motifs and similar plots, but you can burn out on the similarities.

        I can see why you would drop the anthology project for a bit. If you’re blogging on anthologies, I think they require more work — especially if you’re writing on historical developments and putting it all in context.

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