There's an H.P. Lovecraft tome I can't tell you much about as I found it far too long and gloomy to finish. It must have been in paperback print somewhen roughly around 1970.

My justification for 'far too long and gloomy…' is that the first several hundred of perhaps 700 pages 'merely' take our hero on an arduous trek through a barren, rocky mountainscape riddled with tunnels, punctuated only by meeting and defeating two or three monsters.

Crucially, he relies on dehydrated water not in gaseous but in tablet or pastille form — and it's the vague explanation for the chemistry of those tablets that interests me.

There's a quotation before the main text with the odd form This to be love: and I don't recall the definition which followed.

I have looked at various internet bibliographies but from Lovecraft's dozens of works, none has a title that's even vaguely familiar. I think I'm looking for two words; possibly three.

I have tried searching SE for sci-fi, horror and Story ID but the rest is too vague and 'Lovecraft' found too many hundred hits….

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    Is it lovecraftian or actually written by Lovecraft? His longest work is nowhere near 700 pages long.
    – Warcupine
    Dec 30, 2021 at 14:21
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    None the less, "barren, rocky mountainscape" reminds me some of Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath though I don't recall dehydrated water in that...
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Dec 30, 2021 at 14:28
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    "The Night Land" by Hodgeson has dehydrated water (a powder that you heat). It's also a hefty tome at 800 pages, and is Lovecraft-like Dec 30, 2021 at 14:29
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    Wow! I think Clara Diaz Sanchez has it through the title, the heated powder and the 800 pages. Thanks, Clara. How Lovecraft stuck in my mind must be a trick of time… I wrestled with it 50 years ago, after all, and Hodgeson does seem reasonable, at least. Quite separately, can anyone who did take the trouble, tell whether it would have been worth my while slogging on? Merry Christmas Dec 30, 2021 at 14:48
  • It's funny that you don't mention the aspect that is best known for making The Night Land difficult to read—the faux-seventeenth-century style of prose (discussed here: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/223209/… ). It gets easier to read as one gets used to it, and I enjoyed it when I did manage to finish the book, although the plot never really gets any deeper. Hodgson also wrote a much shorter version of the story, The Dream of X, although I have never looked at it.
    – Buzz
    Dec 30, 2021 at 20:19

1 Answer 1


From the details given in the question, I'm sure this is "The Night Land" by William Hope Hodgson. Although not a Lovecraft work, it is very much in his style, and as the questioner recalls is a substantial work of about 800 pages.

It deals with an explorer who indeed makes use of "dehydrated water". Water is carried in the form of a powder, which liquefies when heated.

What confirmed the identification for me, is that the novel begins with a quotation "The dreams that are only dreams", which begins with the lines:

“This to be Love, that your spirit to live in a natural holiness with the Beloved, and your bodies to be a sweet and natural delight that shall be never lost of a lovely mystery….”

The full text is available from Project Gutenberg.


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