Many years ago in school I read a short story in a collection (possibly edited by Gardner Dozois, but this hasn't helped me track it down. I might be confusing different volumes - I read a lot in school.) It was gigantic, heavy and hardback, and must have had dozens of stories in the one volume.

In this was one short story that has stuck in my head ever since. All I remember is:

  • There were stone ruins
  • Underneath them were tunnels (?) or passages or a dead city (?)
  • Underneath the ruins lived creatures that were not describable (?), and had been there for millions of years
  • For some reason, I associate these ruins with the desert of Western Australia
  • I think I remember a square stone being lifted to access the tunnels below; the ruins themselves were non-horrific
  • I remember a vivid sense of dark, as in exploring the ruins without much light, although I don't remember much actual exploration in the story - more exposition about the ruins, their age and what they hid; a vivid sense of age, that these creatures had lived for millions of years under there; and a vivid sense of horror. I don't know if it was truly a horror story or if I was just young enough to find it enjoyably frightening.

I don't know how accurate any of those memories are :)

  • 1
    Sounds like a HP Lovecraft story I have read. Have to remember which one. Aug 17, 2013 at 10:21
  • If it is the Lovecraft story mentioned below by Mr Morgan, it makes sense that you don't "remember much actual exploration" - the ruin exploration is only at the very end of the story, and by that time, you pretty much know what the explorer is likely to find. This lets you concentrate on the subjective experience of the explorer rather than trying to remember what the ruins consist of. May 20, 2019 at 3:12

1 Answer 1


If it is a Lovecraft story, then it must be The Shadow out of Time where the protagonist explores ruins in Pilbarra, Western Australia, which he is familiar with through dreams / memories.

  • 1
    This sounds like the right story! Thankyou :) @user14111, that book doesn't sound right, but I haven't figured out yet what book it was. I remember a dark purple/brown cover (maybe) and fairly plain text, no illustrations, and it being two or three inches thick - a huge anthology. Nevertheless that site you linked is amazingly useful, I had no idea it existed.
    – David
    Aug 19, 2013 at 12:02

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