The world economy in 2011 is in a bit of a slump, and politicians are pointing fingers. Environmental issues are all over the news. And the issue of Human-Fish Man marriage remains a source of controversy.
Balance of trade is another hot topic: after all, can Earth provide anything else than certain rare earth metals that the Mi-go want to buy?
And of course, the eternal question: to blow up R’lyeh or not to blow up R’lyeh?
In spite of the bile of such non-human haters as Rhode Island senator and two-time presidential candidate HP Lovecraft, most of humanity has generally adopted to becoming part of a much larger universe. After all, if it were not for the revival of the Elder Things now restarting the civilization of Antarctica in the Amazon, technology would be much less developed: if it were not for the knowledge of Blue-Lit K’n-Yan, humans would still be without proof of the existence of the soul. (Admittedly, where the soul goes after death is apparently weird and variable and has nothing to do with any established religion, but it’s better than oblivion, no?). If it were not for the Deep Ones, what would we know of the glories of Atlantis and Mu? If it were not for trade with the Mi-Go, how many now easily curable diseases would still ravage mankind?
Of course, there were some tense periods. The Cold War was probably worsened by the US claiming a “protectorate” over the Mountains of Madness, leading to the Soviet-Deep One alliance (remember the “Shoggoth Gap”?) and the Underworld Proxy Wars. But after all we got through that without anyone opening a Gate to Yog-Sothoth, and the paranoid security apparatus created by both sides actually paid dividends in uncovering and uprooting the Cthulhu Cult.
Architecture looks a bit different than OTL, given that many people refuse to live in building with too much in the way of right angles (statisticians insist that being devoured by the Hounds of Tindalos is roughly as likely as being hit by a meteor, but are ignored, just as when they talk about the House always winning). OTOH, some architects incorporate the bizarre geometries of the cities of the Elder Things in their design, while others look to the sunken cities of the Deep Ones or the black structures of Yuggoth (with windows added, of course). The Elder Sign crops up frequently. Beachfront property has dropped substantially in value, destroying a great many fortunes, since people became more aware of what might crawl out of the sea.
Relations between terrestrial governments and the Mi-Go changed substantially after the Grand Coordinator arrived on an inspection tour of Yuggoth and its various mining bases throughout the solar system: as it turned out, Yuggoth is the Mi-Go equivalent of a backwards little redneck town, in the backwoods of a light-contaminated cosmos, while the miners on earth were the scum of redneck society, so degenerate that they had sunk to the point of worshipping mere earth-bound Chaos-spawn. To their substantial annoyance, those US and Chinese officials holding the dangerous and difficult position of negotiators found they had been kissing the ass of the equivalent of inbred unwashed barefoot overalls-wearing hillbillies armed with rusty squirrely rifles. With reforms and the arrival of civilized officials relations became less dangerous, but also more distant (if the local miners were inbred hillbillies, humans were essentially naked savages with bones through their noses).
The Mi-Go are happy enough to sell medicines and useful gadgets to humans, but aside from certain rare metals, there’s not much they want from Earthlings (well, aside from brains. The Mi-Go have all sorts of uses for the brains of sentient beings). Coldly rational and with a (metaphorical) eye on the bottom line, the Mi-Go ruling classes fail to see any reason to aid humanity without some serious returns on investment.
Ghouls (a hybrid race, part Degenerate humans, part some THINGS that crawled up from the Earth’s interior) as a result of the Underworld Proxy Wars are much reduced in population, and have been reduced to salaried work for humans in exchange for decaying meat and poison-free rats. Their historical ability to hide out and move unseen underground has been negated by the Handy Dandy Ground-Penetrating Spy Ray (a Mi-Go Products release) and increasingly by human-built ground-penetrating sound waves, and except for those who have withdrawn into the lower Abysses, are increasingly resigned to working the night shift in construction, security, and mining.
The Deep Ones are children of Cthulhu, nightmare genetic hybrids incorporating the four-dimensional genetic codes of His monstrous kind. Not that they really adore the Big C that much nowadays: they are happy enough worshipping Dagon and Hydra and the other monstrous servitor-creatures Cthulhu brought from the stars with him and let Cthulhu take care of himself (see below) and manage their affairs to their own satisfaction without the intrusive mind-probing of a genuine God-king. (Not to mention Cthulhu occasionally showing up and trampling a city underfoot just to remind folks Who’s the God. Dagon and co. are well, more manageable deities). They are immortal, but cannot reproduce without infusions of fresh DNA from other species: to make up for the (rare) deaths, since the Snake-men of Valusia fled into the Earth’s interior and the Frog-men of Ib became extinct, they have preferentially mated with humans.
This is of course is not exactly popular with most humans and their governments, but the Deep Ones continue to find volunteers: they are apparently sitting on a load of deep-sea gold and other valuable metals, and it has long been established that human beings will do some pretty wild shit for enough money (they also can drive fish into people’s nets, but industrial fishing technique pretty much ended that as a selling point).
The Soviet-Deep One alliance broke down in the 1970s over the continued Soviet refusal to stop overfishing and dumping garbage and toxins in the seas (leading to Détente), and outright war between Deep Ones and humanity as a whole nearly broke out in the 1980s with the Deep Ones sinking garbage scows at the mouths of harbors, plugging up waste pipes going into rivers, etc.: finally, cooler heads prevailed, at least in part due to the increased power of the environmental lobby. Steps were taken to stop the inflow of toxins into the seas and fishing catch limits were cut back sharply, and the Deep Ones in turn helped humans with their subsequent sushi shortage with their many domesticated food animals and algae. (With some variable results: the giant sea slug is fast-growing and rich in nutrients, but it’s very hard to persuade anyone save some East Asians to actually eat it).
There are several billion of them down there, but humanity nowadays outnumbers them (a bit of a shock for the Deep Ones, who have had a stable population for millions of years and were accustomed to greatly outnumbering the primitive surface-dwellers). Their technology is a mix of the biological and Weird-Ass Forces: they have Shoggoths and Great Sea Worms and sharks and Colossal Crabs as servants, coral that grows into buildings, the ability to bring storms into existence, trap a human soul in its drown corpse till it rots and somehow build colossal stone temples without the use of fire: on the other hand, they wouldn’t know a computer if it bit them in the scaly ass and normally they use Pointy Things to fight with.
The Deep Ones have been a tremendous help in the development of deep-sea archeology: they know where all the good stuff is sunk.
Diplomatic relations with the Greater Shoggoths of the sub-Arctic (larger and far more intelligent than the varieties that serve the Deep Ones) remain nonexistent, due to their refusal to come out of their tunnels and fight like a man, and continued tendency to eat anyone who comes down into their tunnels to talk to them. (The effort to communicate by way of robot probes received a bit of a setback when an Elder Thing was put on the mike in an effort to talk to it: apparently, surprise surprise, Greater Shoggoths tend to get a bit violent when Elder Things start talking at them).
Cthulhu will live when The Stars are Right (more exactly, when the “movement” of universe-clusters through an N-dimensional space causes certain energy potentials to increase sufficiently), but the Stars do not become Right exactly on the stroke of midnight: the situation slowly becomes Righter with time. Eventually Cthulhu will be able to roll out of bed on His own, so to speak, but for a while to come (a fair span of time even by Elder Thing standards) he’ll need help. Therefore, Cthulhu Cultists. And since the Deep Ones are no longer enthusiastic about being Loving Slaves, human cultists. (Hey, you have to work with what you have).
Therefore, a lot of Planetary Defense Forces military hardware constantly remains on patrol over a spot in the deep Pacific, in case R’lyeh shows any signs of Rising again. The Cult has suffered badly, but not all of their Elder Masters in Tibet fell prey to Chinese army issue thermite bombs. Some escaped deeper into the dark places within the Earth, and apparently have internet access nowadays: Evil Cultists rival online child-molesters as a worry for parents.
Beyond Cthulhu and His cousin Yog-Sothoth exist a whole menagerie of cosmic horrors: the Great Old Ones really aren’t so great in the overall scheme of things, and there is a hierarchy extending several levels above them, most entirely uninterested in our puny Earth, all the way to Azathoth, Source of All Chaos, Who dwells at the bubbling chaotic center of creation, blind, mad and almost mindless, Who farts out universes and sheds arch-daemons and gods (if there is a difference) like dried skin flakes (those who manage to avoid being reabsorbed into Its bulk, anyway). There are Those high in the hierarchy of Being who wish us well, in some ways: they at least desire that all forms of life and universes exist and grow and evolve, even if they are no more concerned with individual humans than a hard-minded ecologists is with individual ants in the Amazon basin, and can hardly be summoned to our aid (even if we could get Their attention, who would want the heavens to split and a burning eye larger than a world to stare down upon us?). They unimaginably contest with other Immeasurable Ones with aims other and often entirely incomprehensible.
Below the Immeasurable Ones but above the Great Old Ones are the Outer Gods, in some way served or worshipped by or related to the Great Old Ones: Nyarlathotep is their messenger, a being even the Mi-Go fear, although bound in strange ways in His ability to act. He heads the Eldritch Horror Most Wanted list.
Below Cthulhu lie various chaotic beings, some native to Earth, others arrived over the Aeons from outside: the white and shining Lurker in the Swamp, Yig of the Serpents, Tsathoggua the lazy, the ravenous, nameless Rat-God, Shub-Niggurath of the Thousand Young, etc. The UN powers have various treaties and agreements with most of these beings (it turns out that most Eldritch Horrors are happy enough to substitute five Holsteins or ten pigs for one human sacrifice: the most expensive deal was with Yig, making multiple thousands of southwestern roads snake-safe was a major proposition), and has been able to contain one way or another most of the recalcitrant. Various forests, inaccessible valleys, sinister plateaus and bottomless caves have been made Eldritch Horror Reservations by national governments, with public access rather seriously limited. (US warning signs vary from the Legrasse Memorial Wetland’s straightforward “Trespassers may expect no assistance” to a more poetic sign outside a little wood in the Pine Barrens, “Abandon all Hope, ye who Trespass here.”)
Since the 1930s, US-NATO diggings in the Antarctic, made at great expense and great risk of Shoggoth attack, have found forty-seven Elder Things in suspended animation undamaged enough for revival to take place. After some initial unpleasantness and difficulties establishing communication, a deal of sorts has been struck: the Elder Things get a chance to rebuild their civilization and perhaps one day return to their Antarctic homeland. In exchange, humanity gets all the science and technology they know of.
A refuge for them has been established in a thinly populated section of the Amazon basin (now cleared of locals by the government), with a government managed highway connection and airstrip: now UN rather than just US-NATO charges, they receive considerable financial aid, and have with local labor raised a town of creepy little towers and scientific workshops: they have also sporulated, and lil’ baby Elder Things have started to sprout in the jungle soil. This of course disturbs some people, and there is considerable conflict, both internal and between different national governments, about access to the Elder Things, how closely they should be monitored, whether they should be allowed access to advanced equipment, etc. There are those who still think they should be locked up permanently at some Hanger 51 type facility, and then there’s the NY LOVES THINGS Association, which is trying to get the Elder Things to move to New York rather than the “safety” of the deadly dull jungle. (After all, it’s not like even the deadliest of New York muggers is much of a threat to an Elder Thing).
The Elder Things have internal conflicts of their own, of course. The bodies in suspended animation found by the US and NATO expeditions to the Mountains of Madness came from eras stretching over hundreds of millions of years, and the older reanimated don’t get along well with their “degenerate” descendants, who in turn consider their ancestors a bunch of over-intellectualized fuddy-duddies. Although they’re glad for the opportunity to rebuild their civilization, there is much disagreement as to what that civilization should be like: how honest to be in their dealings with the humans (gratitude can only go so far in dealing with a race of bloody-minded mayflies): and whether to explore the Outer Dimensions in search of other descendants of the distant planet they crossed space from ages ago (they’re not sure they’d like what they’ll find, and anyway you run into the queerest non-people exploring the Outer Dimensions.) They are also annoyed at the human refusal to allow direct communications with the Mi-Go, and distrust the human report that the Mi-Go claim not to know anything re their kin (actually, the Mi-Go say that there are a great many races and civilizations in this universe and others descended from the same original root as the Elder Things, but they’re asking outrageous prices for any specific information).
The Elder Things were a bit horrified at the human suggestion to deal with dead-yet-living Cthulhu by blowing him up with a big enough H-bomb: even if humans could build one powerful enough to vaporize Him in spite of the protection of millions of tons of impossibly hard rock (what, you think building a 5000-foot tower of stone doesn’t violate some rules of engineering?), it would only destroy His physical form: he would return anew (and pissed) from the Squamous Dimensions after only a few centuries. The fact that humans think this would buy them “plenty of time” to develop better solutions to the Great Old One problem appalls them. A few hundred turns around the primary is “plenty” of time???
Asked if they had any better ideas, the Elder Things noted that since Cthulhu was incapable of offering serious resistance and all (due to being dead) it was technologically possible to trap him for eternity in an artificially created singularity (they then had to shame-tentacledly admit that the technology was not one any of the revived had the know-how to duplicate, even if they had something better than the locally available stone knives and bearskins to work with. The humans got snarky, the Elder Things got huffy and defensive: after all, they had been able to keep a third of the world Cthulhu-free with a policy of Mutual Planetary Destruction, and oh, by the way, whoever in this room is invulnerable to Cthulhu’s mental influence, please raise a tentacle).
International relations are rather more cordial than OTL, the whole Insignificant Mayflies in a Universe Full of Monster-Gods thing having led people to huddle together a bit more (aside from those who outright deny the existence of such a universe). The UN has grown into a genuinely powerful organization, and the international Planetary Defense Forces, tasked with defending humanity from horrors terrestrial, spatial, and extra-dimensional dangers, nowadays receives more funding than the US national forces. In providing protection from Unspeakable Horrors the PDF works closely with the Gods of Earth (Nodens, the Gods of Ulthar, Hypnos…), who are most effective in the Dreamlands, and such Eldritch Horrors as would be annoyed by the Great Old Ones stripping the planet of all biological life and yanking it into another dimension.
After the revelation of some fairly horrible cold-war era near misses, the UN powers have followed a strict policy of total openness, at least between governments if not between governments and civilian populations: one really doesn’t want some nation making under-the-table deals with Yog-Sothoth or raising armies of reanimated corpses. Several countries have been forced to “open their books” to the major powers – North Korea was a particularly messy case. There is also a unified planetary space program, and something of a planetary accord on pushing third-world development and modernization (poverty and despair after all lead to Degeneration and Cthulhu-worship). With the development of anti-gravity fliers, the world is even more closely linked physically than OTL, and immigration is at an all-time high.
Communism has died out: as OTL, there was no money in it (and the Elder Things, whose economy could be described as socialistic for lack of a better term, were slow to be convinced that descriptions of the Soviet economy were something other than an example of obscure human humor). Reunified Korea is once again pestering the UN re more funding for the North Korean money pit, and the Palestinians continue to ungratefully turn down exciting offers of a new homeland beneath the Earth or in another dimension or circling a distant star.
Various new distractions and forms of entertainment exist, as well as old ones with different twists. Much ichor is spilled in Hollywood blockbusters. Three girls, two guys, and a ghoul was the most popular sitcom of 2010. International drug enforcement agencies have pretty much dropped Marihuana as a drug to get bothered over – Leng Fungus-derived drugs, with their tendency to literally rot the brain, are a much bigger worry. Although there was some worry that the discovery of the Dreamlands and the fad for mastering lucid Dreaming would lead many people to abandon the real world for the realms of Hypnos, in the end most people simply are not imaginative enough to reach the deep lands of True Dream, not to mention most don’t really want to take the risks involved (there are lands of incredible beauty and wonder in the realm of Dream: but the kingdoms of nightmares are there, too).
Rationalism is the order of the day, as is the New Humanism: many races have, according to the Mi-Go, have managed to last for billions of years in one form or another and spread themselves across the universes: some have even evolved into God-like higher-dimensional beings. The spread, survival and development of Humanity are preached in many a country as a new holy writ (rather needed when it turns out that yes, there is a God: but It’s a blind mindless cosmic monster), and there is a strong post-humanist movement pushing for genetic engineering, cybernetic enhancement, etc. (The Elder Things, none of which have studied the obscure field of mammalian biology, aren’t too much help here). However, most just get on with their lives: Unspeakable Cosmic Horrors may be out there, but as most managed to ignore the prospect of impending nuclear devastation, they now manage to ignore the scarier bits of modern-day existence.
Elder Thing knowledge has given humans some options between terrified fleeing and hurling loads of atom bombs: the Blue Ray disperses most vaporous or non-material entities, while the disintegrator and the lightning ray do doughty work against more physical foes. Energy screens protect against psychic manifestations and dangerous radiations, while the energies emitted by certain synthetic elements (the basis of the Elder Sign, boosted by certain geometrical properties) repels most things bearing the sub-atomic Mark of the Beast (Cthulhu, that is). And of course, most people are well-informed enough that if they see a niter-encrusted tunnel with carvings of unnatural monstrosities, they bloody well stay out.
There are here and there Weak Spots where the world tends to bleed over a little into other places: there are, for instance, neighborhoods in New York and Paris and Tokyo that don’t show up on maps and are often impossible to find again after you move out. These have been all tracked down and occupied by Planetary Defense Forces. (Those on the surface of the Earth, anyway. Presumably the Deep Ones and the various underground-dwellers have their own way of dealing with such things.)
You can get some excellent traditional French cooking on the Rue d’Auseil, now that they’ve cleaned the stink in the river up a bit.
Herbert West is honored for the work which greatly advanced the science of transplantation and maintaining life for an extended time in organs separate from a body. His whole “reviving the dead” shtick is generally politely ignored, since modern Spiritual Science proves that reanimating a body after the soul has departed is a futile, and usually messy procedure. Of course, the corresponding development of Soul Capture technology has had all sorts of unfortunate side effects: besides the whole Zombie Rights issue, how many people have had their souls caught in bottles or otherwise imprisoned?
Spiritual Science is a controversial thing, and is indeed banned in a number of religious-minded countries, which indeed have retreated from the cruel Light of Science to a comfortable new Dark Ages. (A lot of Muslim countries, as well as Ireland, Greece, some Latin American countries, South Nigeria…The US, where new-style Rational Humanism has won out over religious denial, remains plagued by Christian terrorism after the suppression of the Second Secession.)
Thanks to Elder technology and Mi-Go warnings re Where Not to Go, human beings are spreading across the arid, ruin-littered deserts of Mars, the jungles of Venus, and (some of) the moons of Jupiter, trading and occasionally fighting with the various odd sentient entities to be found in various corners of the solar system, occasionally going as far as Yuggoth (beyond Pluto) to admire the Mi-Go’s colossal windowless cities and the great bridges (older even then they) arching over the rivers of liquid helium. The stars remain harder to reach: although between the various Elder Things that have been revived there is enough know-how to perhaps eventually duplicate the space-warping technology that allows the crossing of interstellar or even intergalactic space in a single step, the infrastructure (the tools to build the tools to build it, so to speak) isn’t there, while the Mi-Go are uninterested in having a bunch of shaved apes running around the galaxy.
Therefore, human interstellar ventures require using short-cuts through the Outer Dimensions, often a risky proposition: aside from the dangers along the “road”, you might think you’ve reached a nice planet for settlement and it turns out to be in a whole other universe with different laws of physics and you don’t find out until your skin starts turning into blue goo. Still, Science Marches on, and several bases have now been established on some of the less-horrible worlds that have been found (“worlds” is of course a word with a variety of meanings. One of the humanly habitable places seems to have a hyperbolic geometry, while another seems to be an endless plane surface illuminated by a so far unidentified source).
The Moon is increasingly a popular place to visit, with its lovely ruins and friendly ghost-cats, although the caves on Far Side are best avoided unless you’re handy with a disintegrator.
Human beings now are rather longer-lived than they used to be. Mi-Go biotech by itself has increased human lifespans by almost 50%, and they offer near-immortality, but the price is so high (several centuries of indentured servitude as a brain in a jar) that few take them up on it. Human life has also been extended by the ease of modern organ transplants (thank Herbert West), and by the spread of certain ancient mystical disciplines from the East. A child born in 2011 has an excellent chance of seeing their third century, but this is not enough for those who find the actual afterlife disturbing. With Soul Capture technology, one can remain in one’s body after the organs no longer work, but it requires advanced spiritual and mental disciplines to retain the level of integration to actually make it walk and talk, so this is a choice taken by few (still enough to create all sorts of difficult legal issues). For those who want immortality for their children, there’s always the choice of mating with a Deep One (talk about closing your eyes and thinking of England).
And then there are the illegal methods for extending your life: stealing other people’s bodies by replacing their souls with your own, or directly tapping into ultra-universal powers to ward off the effects of time on the body. Since these things require alliances with Unspeakable Entities or at least the use of Mi-Go technology that cannot be purchased with legal tender, for the safety and sanity of the human race, such dealings are very much against the law, and carry the death penalty (in some countries, the punishment is harsher yet, involving lengthy Soul Imprisonment).
Fortunately, this has not led to a rash of immortal evil dictators: one can’t bind oneself to Forces beyond space and time through a middleman, and there are few dictators with the stones (or the skill at pronouncing non-human tongues) to carry out Unspeakable Rituals which carry a very high risk of insanity or Soul-Sucking.
(With the exception of course of China, with its Mi-Go Himalayan bases and easily disappeared political prisoners. Deng Xiaoping is still running the place at the suspiciously advanced age of 107, although the official press dutifully reports regularly on how old and frail he’s looking).
When one actually does die, there are quite a few possibilities, and The Afterlife for Dummies series sells briskly. The human soul, depending on the character and beliefs of the individual, and how well prepped they are for the change, may move to the Dreamlands after death, or may pass to the realms of the shadowy Gods of Earth or to mystical realms high and strange, in time becoming a spirit or demigod in some higher sphere: it may return in reincarnation on Earth: or may remain stuck in some emotional trap as a ghost, unable to move on, be trapped in a coffin by fear and confusion, or may simply be devoured by some soul-eating horror or other. Helping people prepare to move on to the more comfortable afterlives is the job of the Spiritual Counseling bureau and its equivalents abroad, while the Spiritual Rescue Force helps ghosts move on and liberates trapped spirits wherever they may be, while the Horror Busters hunts down psychopomps and other spiritual predators.
Spirits not advanced enough to travel cosmic space on their own inhabit the Psychosphere, the mental continuum which is given form and shape by the minds of sentient beings, alive and dead. Those of primitive and not very numerous peoples tend to be rather crude and unsafe sort of places, while the human one has grown large enough to have an extensive spiritual ecology, and some defenses of its own (weak and excessively fragmented psychic regions tend to be pestered by various spiritual predators and occasionally decimated by higher-dimensional monster Gods.) The Deep Ones have their own, the Great Deep, whose depths are beyond even Cthulhu’s ken, while the Mi-Go upon death apparently are drawn back to their utterly alien, lightless home cosmos (which is a big relief: having to share psychic closet space with the Ghouls and other Earth-born oddities is bad enough).
As for the Elder Things, since they have all been dead or hibernating for some millions of years, their well-organized psychic continuum is a pale and tattered remnant of itself, most of its inhabitants having departed for other planes of existence a long time ago: carving out some psychic living space for themselves is on their to-do list (although given their physical near-immortality, not a particularly major one). Of course, some people don’t particularly like any of the choices, and the search for immortality goes on hot and heavy.
The realms of Science are rather more extensive than OTL: besides Spiritual Science, there is the related field of Psionics, the study of Non-Euclidean Dimensional Adjustment (the use and abuse of curious angles and geometries), N-Spatial Properties of Vibration (the use of sound to interact with other-dimensional forces and entities, say by playing the violin), and of course Practical Theology, the study and classification of the various higher-dimensional and deep-space entities at least worshipped as if not simply functionally equivalent to Gods. A lot of “magic” upon closer inspection turned out to be simply fragmentary knowledge of ancient sciences, bits and pieces brought down from antiquity, in some cases rather earlier than humans have existed on Earth. In many of the more backwards parts of the globe Thou Shall Not Allow a Witch to Live has become accepted practice again, and people who seem to age too slowly or whose houses are seen to glow with strange lights and sound with strange chants or who go out on strange mounds during thunderstorms have a tendency to get shot in the back of the head and have their bodies burned to ashes. (Scientists are very insistent on their not being wizards or witches, no siree, and the goats’ blood is only used because of the psychic resonances set up by such a symbol, you see…).
The Harry Potter books were written by Stephen King in this world.
There are psychics, and now that training techniques have been refined they do rather well for themselves sniffing out Evil, helping in legal cases, forecasting the weather, finding lost car keys, etc. On the down side, the psychics who have spent decades sharpening their senses have an unfortunate tendency to go bonkers from exposure to other-dimensional Forces and Entities, or just walking into the wrong museum exhibit: life is particularly hard for those on Horror Buster service. Many of them “blind” themselves with protective head gear marked with certain Elder Signs when they are not working.
Archeology is a more exciting profession than OTL: cultists, ancient curses, the occasional long-imprisoned monstrosity all make things a bit more pulse-pounding. (The most popular documentary film of 1951 was entitled Indiana Jones at the Mountains of Madness). On the positive side, given the sort of things that can be uncovered, governments give rather more generously to university archeology departments, and provide military backup for nominal costs.
Humans, or things like them, have been around for rather longer than OTL, and there have been various cycles of civilization before the current one. Agricultural societies existed in the US southwest as early as 18,000 BC before the Blight brought their civilization down and sent the survivors into the subterranean deeps. The sphinx is in fact much older than the Pyramids, and its face was once far less human. There were civilizations before the last ice age in Hyperborea and Atlantis.
Archeology eventually merges with paleontology: the humans which inhabited Atlantis before it sank were descended from the apes into which the few descendants of Lemuria degenerated. And before the somewhat-arguable humanity of Lemuria and their rivals in Mu were the snake-men and the Deep Ones and the Gelatinous Giants and the ape-reptile-whatever-men: still further back the utterly alien Great Race and before them the half-immaterial Polyps: and of course that’s just the native races, not mentioning Cthulhu and his servitors and Cthulhu-oid shadows/reflections/spawn, or the Elder Things, there almost since the beginning (and apparently there had been things on Earth before even them, utterly alien forms of life that had perished and left a world of dead geology when the first Elder Thing swept down from the stars). Of course, little remains of the earliest civilizations, but here and there are fragments dating back before the dinosaurs emerged…
Geology is also different: although the continents do move, it’s not by OTLs crustal plate subsidence, and continents over the Aeons have risen and sank or thrown out land bridges with alarming frequency. The center of the Earth is fiery as OTL, but temperatures increase more slowly with depth, and the planetary crust is riddled with open spaces and tunnels, some of volcanic origin, others created by non-human hands, some chewed out by “nameless things” that gnaw the world. Dark seas surge far below, beyond all light, and great rivers flow that never see the sun.
And there is biology; besides the insane varieties of new biologies on other worlds and dimensions (although “biology” doesn’t really do some entities justice), there are taints of the alien, of the primal chaos that existed in the early days of our cosmos, in most terrestrial life: seemingly impossible combinations and hybridizations take place now and then, and under conditions of great stress and savagery, ancient genes may become active again, and humans may become beasts again in a few generations: living things adapt to new conditions with remarkable rapidity, and Stephen Jay Gould’s “Punctuated Equilibrium” theory includes quotes from the Pnakotic Manuscripts.
“Degeneracy” is a genuine problem, best averted by energetic usage of the brain, good food, Manly (or at least Tomboyish) exercise, and keeping the hell away from eldritch horrors: something similar to Lamark’s descent of acquired traits can take place, due to the interaction of ancient genetic holdovers with the plasticity of all things contaminated by the realms of chaos. (Degeneracy is particularly easy to contract if there are Unspeakable Horrors being worshipped in your neighborhood). Fortunately, if a child is separated early from badly Degenerated parents, raised in a humane manner and exposed to certain beneficial radiations much can be done to reverse the effects of inherited degeneracy, although there have been some scandals re government officials confusing parents suffering from Degeneracy with ones who were just ignorant slobs.
A remarkable example of the taxidermist’s art and the sole extant specimen of its species, the restored White Congo Ape graces one of the first displays one will encounter when entering the Arthur Jermyn Memorial Wing of the British Natural History Museum, which among other things houses the Humanoid Intelligence collection.
Cosmology, with the innumerable universes swirling through N-dimensional space “around” the primordial chaos of Azathoth, intermixing, clashing, swallowing each other, is complex and depressing (we’re all demon-farts?): one spark of light is what one of the revived Elder Things remembers being told by one of the Mi-Go, who had in turn been told it by a Mi-Go scientist, who had heard it in the Green Dimensions from a galaxy of sentient crystal….THERE ARE OTHER WORLDS THAN THIS.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
The Outsider has broken into Hollywood, where he has starred in several “attack of the undead” movies and as the Ghost in a Tim Burton production of Hamlet: he is currently working on a personal theatrical project, the first all-abomination production of Guys and Dolls.
Richard Pickman is also a busy “man” nowadays, as the chairman of the Ghoul-American Antidiscrimination League, and a member of the board of the Society for the Advancement of Humanoid Underground Peoples. He also continues to work in oils, although nowadays, stung by criticisms of being a mere “photographic” painter with no real creativity, most of his work is purely abstract.
Juan Romero, as he did in his last life, still serves that darkest of the Gods of Earth, old Huitzilopotchli, in an indefinite space sometimes beneath the mountains of Mexico and sometimes elsewhere. H. isn’t letting him get away this time: good help is hard to find nowadays.
The Terrible Old Man is currently residing in a small coastal town in Oregon, a little older, a little more wrinkled, a bit balder, still tottering along the streets supported by a wooden cane. He’s quite pleased with the current extension of human life: it means he’ll be able to stay in one place for as long as a century rather than moving every fifty years or so. He has no interest in getting a government job in Spiritual Rescue or Horror Busting: he values his privacy, he does, not to mention Turner Movie Classics.
Obed Marsh’s Great-Great-Great-Grandson is beginning to think Y’ha-nthlei isn’t quite as glorious as he had first thought: for one thing, he’s heard of the Internet, and is annoyed at the lack of sea-floor access: for another, after nearly a century of it he’s getting heartily sick of raw fish.
Myrddin, upon consideration, decided not to return to his essential salts: the new era is just too interesting, and the cuisine is a hell of a lot better than that of early Dark Ages Britain. He currently works as a free-lance agent and special consultant for the Horror Busters and several other such agencies: given the sort of handful he would be if pushed too far, government bureaucracies have so far swallowed their resentment over his lack of citizenship  and ID, unwillingness to fill out the paperwork, etc.
Randolph Carter has quit the opal throne of Ilek-Vad, complaining about the tourists and researchers that have made the city of turrets gross and mundane, and eat strange fish bought from the bearded and finny Gnorri with tater tots and a side of coleslaw. He is rumored to have moved to a deeper level of Dream with like-minded Dreamers, to found a shining new city with very high walls.
Harley Warren is still dead, but he’s doing better
 He has been offered British citizenship, but as he pointed out, the majority of British are descendants of the people who fought against Arthur…