Completely Weird

Now on eBay, a “COMPLETE SET of Weird Tales. Yours for a mere £118,310 (about $150,000).

Some nice cover scans are to be found on the listing, including this one which I don’t recall seeing before… can only provide one abysmal and one very-poor cover scan for this issue. Despite the alluring cover, this was an issue from before the ‘golden age of WT’ run started. Lovecraft would not appear in his own right until February 1924, and even then it was the over-the-top self-parody “The Hound”. But March 1924 saw his “The Rats in the Walls” and the bumper May–June–July 1924 issue had his “Hypnos”.

More LORAs

A couple more recent free LORAs, of possible interest to artists and/or RPG makers. A LORA is a ‘style plugin’ used for AI image generation with the free Stable Diffusion 1.5, which is run in free desktop software such as InvokeAI 3.x.

Paper Background makes drawings and plans on vintage paper, of obvious use for emulating field notes or dusty diagrams of dastardly devices. The demo images suggest diagrams, but it can obviously do far more. Might also be used at lower power in combination with the Bestiarum LORA, for making ‘naturalist field notebook’ type monster-spotting guides.

More sci-fi is UFOMaker, now also newly for SD 1.5. Not just your classic 1960s frisbee UFO, but “all types of UFOs and spaceships”.

Also, there’s new Python-based AI freeware that auto-translates comics other than Japanese manga. Such as Euro BDs.

The Poem

Lovecraft’s long and earliest ‘cosmic’ poem “The Poe-et’s Nightmare” (1916), as an AI generated video adaptation. The project…

aims to decode the poem’s innate symbolic space and to project it into a coherent visual realm with a surreal aesthetics of a graphic antique manuscript, abstracting away from the described events. Eventually, what we observe is a dialogue between the written unseen and the unspeakable evident. The collection consists of 304 unique pieces, one per verse line. Each piece is a 23-second video loop with sound.

Fulton Street in earlier times

Not much time this week for a long and research-heavy ‘Picture Postals’ post. But here’s a picture that continues last week’s theme of the view from Brooklyn of Manhattan. An early colonist looks across at the growing city, from the Brooklyn side of what would become Fulton Street. The crossing would long be served by a ferry, the ‘Fulton Street Ferry’. The ferry service seems to have been discontinued by the mid 1920s, thus severing the two streets in favour of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Possibly the flat-wide craft in the centre of the channel indicates the steam-powered ferry?

Lovecraft was fond of this sort of view for his own ‘early Providence’, and he would likely have appreciated this similar view from Brooklyn. The picture also reminds one of Lovecraft’s tale of the development of “The Street” from early times to 1919.

The men, busy with labour, waxed prosperous and as happy as they knew how to be. And the children grew up comfortably, and more families came from the Mother Land to dwell on The Street. And the children’s children, and the newcomers’ children, grew up. The town was now a city, and one by one the cabins gave place to houses; simple, beautiful houses of brick and wood, with stone steps and iron railings and fanlights over the doors.

Which might seem all quaint and antiquarian, but this is Lovecraft… so the horror creeps in more and more. Although the final horror is ultimately given only a superficial supernatural gloss, being a horror the inhabitants have made for themselves.

Robot stories

With un-tethered mass-produced humanoid robots on the horizon of the real-world, I thought I might have a go at revisiting Asimov’s “Robot” stories, not having re-read them for so long that I’ve forgotten them. Other than to recall that they were enjoyable.

There turn out to have been a lot of them, written over the years. 31 by 1982, which was when we had The Complete Robot collection. More later.

I don’t wish to repeat the completist effort that was trying to read all Asimov’s Foundation novels, including the later ‘leads in’ and ‘lead outs’. Thus, a ‘best of’ selection is required for the robots.

After some research, I find that the widely-agreed must-read ‘best’ boil down to just nine…

“Runaround” (starter story) (IN: I, ROBOT);
“Little Lost Robot” (IN: I, ROBOT);
“Bicentennial Man” (IN: ROBOT VISIONS);
“Liar!” (IN: I, ROBOT);
“The Tercentenary Incident” (IN: THE COMPLETE ROBOT);
“The Evitable Conflict” (IN: I, ROBOT);
“Evidence” (IN: ROBOT VISIONS);
“Someday” (IN: ROBOT VISIONS).

In audio, that’s just over eight hours.

And if one then wants more, the novels The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, Robots of Dawn and Robots and Empire follow these stories, in Asimov-time.

After that, in Asimov-time, you’re into the other two Empire novels, then the Foundation novels.

Lovecraft bot?

Nvidia has released “Chat with RTX” for free. Not a Cloud thing, it seems. You download it as an .EXE and run it on your PC. Though still a bit ‘rough around the edges’, it gives you a local…

AI chatbot you can customize by training it on your private local data. It works offline and is optimized to use Nvidia RTX graphics cards in PCs, for performance boosts in processing chat queries.

Theoretically then, this could make a private ‘Lovecraft bot’, provided there’s no cap on the size of the training data. A ‘HPLovebot’ trained on his writings, publications, essays, and vast numbers of letters (if one took the time to scan and OCR them all). In fact, since Hippocampus has most of that already in digital format, they might make a bundle of money by doing just that and providing it as an online ‘Chat with Lovecraft’ service. Or even for free, with ads for their books alongside. With them and Joshi behind it, it would probably also crowdfund in a few minutes.

Ideally the bot would have the ability to answer in a chronologically-aware way. “Well, in my youth my opinions on what you ask were such-and-such, but as I aged and matured my opinions became more so-and-so.” Something like that.

Regrettably, as well as a modern RTX 30 or 40 series graphics card, “Chat with RTX” also requires Windows 11 to build the bot. At least that’s what the specs say.