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Can anyone identify this story? I read it years ago (about 1984-86?) when I had access to a small public library containing mainly old tatty books no longer fit for circulation.

This story was in a sci-fi anthology, but I don't remember what the cover looked like. Possibly Gollancz, they had a lot of those.

The story was either sci-fi or maybe horror, although there was nothing explicitly supernatural or eery about it. In fact I remember it as hilariously funny.

It involved a man (Victorian possibly?) who was examining the journal of a deceased explorer (a relative?). The journal spoke of finding 'something' on his expedition and bringing it back. The 'something' was expressed as a blot n.b. printed as an actual ink blot 💭 in the RL book.

The black 💭 escapes from the journal and runs amok around the room, getting ever bigger (expressed as a bigger ink 💭 in the RL book). The man gives chase but the 💭 eludes him until it gets into another room. When he opens the door to that room the 💭 has completely filled it with blackness... and swallows him up!

I would love to read it again and find out if it was as funny as I remember.

Perhaps the title was something like 'The Blot' (or the 💭)?

1 Answer 1

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This is Blot (1972) by Gahan Wilson, first published in Again, Dangerous Visions.

The first time Reginald Archer saw the thing, it was, in its simplicity, absolute. It owned not the slightest complication or involvement. It lacked the tiniest, the remotest, the most insignificant trace of embellishment. It looked like this:

First view of the blot

The blob does not come from a journal, it shows up on Archer's tablecloth, and he initially thinks it's a stain, until it shows up on his desk blotter. It vanishes every time he or his butler look away from it, and when they find it again, it has grown bigger.

Fourth shape of the blot

Archer sends for his friend Sir Harry Mandifer, a stereotypical English gentleman (stiff upper lip and all) to help sort it out. By the time Mandifer arrives the blot is

Sixth incarnation of the blot

and quite large in size; the next time it's over four feet across and the time after it's occupying a wall.

Mandifer and Archer go in search of a weapon and the blot eats the butler and vanishes again.

The story ends with a door opening behind the two of them, with the implication they are about to be eaten.

Last view of the blot

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  • Good answer, DavidW.
    – Andrew
    Mar 3, 2022 at 21:58
  • 2
    That's it. Many thanks. The journal bit seemed very vivid though. Must have conflated it with another story. Mar 3, 2022 at 22:01

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