of the
haunted worlds:
fictional auras of real place-names
on earth and moon

pikes-peakPike's Peak - Harriman's catapult launch to the Moon

Note from Zendexor, 19th November 2023:  This page, begun today, was conceived in the hope that it might encourage readers to appreciate the double dimensions of our two-world system, which is replete with names that are mentioned both in story and in fact, and thus shimmers with the glorious, limitless iconography of the sf imagination.

[ + link to: America's own haunting ]


Archimedes (crater):
   See the extract from Ray Cummings' Brigands of the Moon (1930).


Aristarchus (crater)
    "What about the Bank of Selene? Isn't it supposed to be more adventurous?"
    "Don't believe all you've read about the Gnomes of Aristarchus; they're as careful as anyone else.  They have to be. Bankers on Earth can still go on breathing if they make a bad investment..."
                                                          Arthur C Clarke, Imperial Earth (1975)


Auburn, California, USA:
This is where Clark Ashton Smith lived most of his life.
The town features in the opening of his story The Root of Ampoi (The Arkham Sampler, Spring 1949; Tales of Science and Sorcery, 1964):
A circus had arrived in Auburn.  The siding at the station was crowded with long lines of cars from which issued a medley of exotic howls, growls, snarls and trumpetings...
...And then I saw the giant, who was slightly more than eight feet tall and magnificently built, with no sign of the disproportion which often attends gigantism...    

berkeley-stadiumthe stadium at Berkeley

Berkeley, California, USA:
From Seedling of Mars by Clark Ashton Smith (Wonder Stories Quarterly, Fall 1931, as The Planet Entity):
It was in the fall of 1947, three days prior to the annual football game between Stanford and the University of California, that the strange visitor from outer space landed in the middle of the huge stadium at Berkeley where the game was to be held.
   Descending with peculiar deliberation, it was seen and pointed out by multitudes of people in the towns that border on San Francisco Bay...

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico:
The mystery of this Mayan site is woven into the Lovecraft-inspired novel The Philosopher's Stone (1969) by Colin Wilson power of adaptation.  They stayed in their cities until the land that fed them was exhausted: then there was no alternative to a mass migration.
   This was not the whole explanation.  There was something more sinister here.  Why was the social structure so rigid?  Why was the priesthood so dominant?  Behind Maya civilization lay the conception of the Great Secret, a mystery symbolized by the enormous heads of serpents in their temples.  The priests held a secret that was so terrifying that the world might be destroyed if it was ever revealed.  It was the priests who had ordered the mass migration.  And they believed they were under orders from Someone Else...    


Clavius (crater):
Location of the hiding-place chosen for a scientific discovery in The Key (Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1966) by Isaac Asimov.
   Urth said solemnly, "I would suggest you search the shaded rim of Clavius, at that point where the Earth is nearest the zenith..."
The crater provides an important location in Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968):
Clavius, a hundred-and-fifty miles in diameter, is the second largest crater on the visible face of the Moon, and lies in the centre of the Southern Highlands.  It is very old; ages of vulcanism and bombardment from space have scarred its walls and pock-marked its floor.  But since the last era of crater-formation, when the debris from the asteroid belt was still battering the inner planets, it had known peace for half a billion years.
   Now there were new, strange stirrings on and below its surface, for here Man was establishing his first permanent bridgehead on the Moon.  Clavius Base could, in an emergency, be entirely self-supporting...    


Crater Mountain, California, USA:
I am assuming that "Crater Ridge" is a ridge on Crater Mountain.  The location, specified as "among the Sierras", seems to fit the reference in Clark Ashton Smith's The City of the Singing Flame (1931).
   I had gone for a walk on Crater Ridge, which lies a mile or less to the north of my cabin near Summit.  Though differing markedly in its character from the usual landscapes round about, it is one of my favorite places.  It is exceptionally bare and desolate, with little more in the way of vegetation than mountain sunflowers, wild currant-bushes, and a few study, wind-warped pines and supple tamaracks.
   Geologists deny it a volcanic origin; yet its outcroppings of rough nodular stone and enormous rubble-heaps have all the air of scoriac remains - at least, to my non-scientific eye.  They look like the slag and refuse of Cyclopean furnaces, poured out in pre-human years, to cool and harden into shapes of limitless grotesquerie...    


Death Valley, California, USA:
In D F Jones' Colossus (1966), Death Valley is the site of a nuclear explosion perpetrated by the despotic supercomputer as a punishment for disobedience.
   Blake's head lolled to one side, yet in his eyes Forbin saw intelligence struggling with unspeakable horror and fear.  He swallowed, gasped for air. 
   "The missile team - Death Valley - missile, missile exploded in its silo - I don't know, know any..."       


Gijón, Spain:
This town on the Bay of Biscay is the scene of an alien attack from the Deeps in John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes (1953):
...It was somewhere about ten-thirty in the evening when the sea-tanks came sliding up from the quietly lapping waters at Gijon, with not a sound to betray them until their metal bellies started to crunch up the stone ramps.  The few small boats that were already drawn up there they pushed aside or crushed as they came.  It was the cracking of the timbers that brought men out from the waterside posadas to investigate.
   They could make out little in the fog.  The first sea-tanks must have sent coelenterate bubbles wobbling into the air before the men realized what was happening, for presently all was cries, screams, and confusion...     


Grinnell, Iowa, USA:
First landing site of the parasitic invasion of 2007 from Titan, in Heinlein's The Puppet Masters (1951).

the large, degraded craterthe large, degraded crater

Hipparchus (crater):
From Earthlight by Arthur C Clarke
... The meal was tasty but unidentifiable. Like all food on the Moon, it would have been grown in the great hydroponic farms that sprawled their square kilometers of pressurized greenhouses along the equator.  The meat course was presumably synthetic: it might have been beef, but Sadler happened to know that the only cow on the Moon lived in luxury at the Hipparchus Zoo. This was the sort of useless information his diabolically retentive mind was always picking up and refusing to disgorge.    

horsell-common-sandpitthe Horsell Common sandpit

Horsell Common, near Woking, Surrey, England:
Impact site of the first cylinder from Mars in the invasion described by H G Wells in The War of the Worlds (1898).
The tops of the pine-trees and the roofs of Horsell came out sharp and black against the western after-glow.  The Martians and their appliances were altogether invisible, save for that thin mast upon which their restless mirror wobbled...


Hyginus Cleft - see Mining the Moon.

Isle-of-Wightfrom the International Space Station

Isle of Wight, England:
Commandeered by the Colossus computer.
   "You want a site there?"
   "No.  I want the island.  There is a human population of one million five hundred and twenty-seven thousand.  They will have to be moved."
   "What!"  This shook Forbin right out of his scientific mood.  "You can't mean that - move over a million and a half people!  There must be some other site just as suitable!"
   Colossus ignored him.  "The island is 147 square miles in area, largely composed of chalk, a relatively good insulating material.  Much of it will be leveled down to bare rock..."
                                                              D F Jones, Colossus (1966)  
More optimistically, the Island figures as a redoubt against the vegetable scourge of the triffids:
   Clearly, the best self-maintaining defence line would be water.  To that end they had held a discussion on the various merits of various islands.  It had been chiefly climate that had decided them in favour of the Isle of Wight, despite some misgivings over the area that would have to be cleared...      
                                            John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids (1951), chapter 16


Karatepe, Turkey:
A Hittite fortress, Karatepe features in The Mind Parasites (1967), a novel by Colin Wilson related to Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, as the site of the protagonist's detection, by means of an electronic probe, of a giant buried city two miles beneath the surface.  At first the results are naturally disbelieved.
   When I opened my eyes, I saw Reich standing beside me, staring out across the river.  I looked at my watch, and sat up hastily.
   "Why on earth didn't you wake me?"
   He sat down on the ground beside me.  His manner struck me as subdued.
   "What is it?  Can't you trace the fault?"
   He looked at me thoughtfully.
   "There is no fault."    


Lawrence, Kansas, USA:
In The Immortals by James E Gunn (1958, 1962) this city has taken over from Topeka as the state capital.
   ...They marched down the turnpike toward Lawrence...
      The governor's mansion was built on the top of an L-shaped hill that stood tall between two river valleys.  Once it had been the site of a great university, but taxes for supporting such institutions had been diverted into more vital channels.  Private contributions had dwindled as the demands of medical research and medical care had intensified.  Soon there was no interest in educational fripperies, and the university died.
      The governor had built his mansion there some seventy-five years ago when Topeka became unbearable.  Long before that it had become a lifetime office - and the governor would live forever.
      The state of Kansas was a barony...  The governor was a baron, and the mansion was his keep.  His vassals were the suburban squires; they were paid with immortality or its promise...
   ...The mansion rose, ziggurat fashion, in terraced steps.  On each rooftop was a hydroponic farm.  At the summit of the buildings was a glass penthouse; the noon sun turned it into silver.  On a mast towering above, a radar dish rotated...      


Leicester, England:
Birthplace of author Colin Wilson.  The city is also appears, though without being described, in his Lovecraft-inspired novel The Philosopher's Stone (1969).


Lone Pine, Minnesota, USA:
A huge black box appears in the sky above Lone Pine, heralding the invasion described in Clifford Simak's The Visitors (1980).


Los Angeles, California, USA:
"...TV and radio transmission from your town called Los Angeles have ceased.  It is probable that the heat flash has ignited it..."                  D F Jones, Colossus (1966)

Romney-Marsh-From-LympneRomney Marsh from Lympne

Lympne, Kent, England:
   Certainly if any one wants solitude, the place is Lympne.  It is in the clay part of Kent, and my bungalow stood on the edge of an old sea cliff and stared across the flats of Romney Marsh at the sea...  It was the big port of England in Roman times, Portus Lemanus, and now the sea is four miles away.  All down the steep hill are boulders and masses of Roman brickwork, and from it old Watling Street, still paved in places, starts like an arrow to the north...                                                   H G Wells, The First Men in the Moon (1901) 


Mare Crisium:
...the great walled plain, one of the finest on the Moon...  Three hundred miles in diameter - and almost completely surrounded by a ring of magnificent mountains, it had never been explored until we entered it in the late summer of 1996.
   Our expedition was a large one.  We had two heavy freighters which had flown our supplies and equipment from the main lunar base in the Mare Serenitatis, three hundred miles away...
                                Arthur C Clarke, The Sentinel (10 Story Fantasy, Spring 1951)


Mare Frigoris:
See The Mare Frigoris Culture, a story of a lunar colony from the time of Leonardo da Vinci, by Robert Gibson.


North Pole, Earth:
   That very night, Curt had flown from the moon to Earth and had secretly visited the President, offering the service of his abilities in the war against interplanetary crime. 
   "I know you have no faith in me now," he had told the President, "but a time may come when you'll need me.  When that time comes, flash a signal flare from the North Pole.  I'll see it, and come."                   
                   Edmond Hamilton, Captain Future and the Space Emperor (1939, 1967).
Stid:  It's cute that Cap. Future is so self-confident, he can make this offer even before he's done anything.
Zendexor:  I wondered about that, myself.  I am, however, a more obedient reader than you are; if I'm told to be impressed, I'm impressed.  Usually.
   What does bother me a bit more, is the practicality of the idea.  At least one of the planeteering Futuremen must stay placed to keep an eye on Earth's North Pole at all times if the arrangement is to work...


Peoria, Illinois, USA:
In Maker of Universes (1965) by Philip Jose Farmer, Peoria is where a "crescent" for an interdimensional gateway turns up in a pawnshop.  (Such gadgets are used by the tyrannical Lords of pocket universes for travel between one private cosmos and another.)
...How it had gotten there and what Lord had lost it on Earth would never be known.  Doubtless there were other crescents in obscure places on Earth...    


Peterson Field, Colorado, USA:
Scene of the launch of the first Moon flight, in Heinlein's The Man Who Sold The Moon (1950).


Phoenix, Arizona, USA:
In this area, in chapter one of Maker of Universes (1965) by Philip Jose Farmer, a former amnesiac named Robert Wolff is viewing a house with a view to purchase, when he is contacted from outside the cosmos:
...A minute ago, he had looked inside the closet.  Nothing except the cement floor, the white plasterboard walls, the clothes rod and hooks, a shelf and a lightbulb was there.
   Yet he had heard the trumpet notes, feeble as if singing from the other wall of the world itself.  He was alone, so that he had no one with whom to check the reality of what he knew could not be real...    


Pico, Mare Imbrium
Two writers have associated this isolated lunar mountain with the theme of conflict. 
Mysterious alien domes - at first suspected to be Russian - appear in the Pico area in Hugh Walters' Blast Off At Woomera (1957).  In the sequel, The Domes of Pico (1958), the aliens threaten Earth with harmful radiation.
This same region is the scene of the climacteric Battle of Pico in Earthlight (1955), a novel set in the 22nd century, by Arthur C Clarke.

mount-pico-moonheight: a little under 8,000 feet

...Like most lunar mountains, Pico was not so formidable when seen close at hand as when glimpsed from a distance.  There were a few vertical cliffs, but they could always be avoided, and it was seldom necessary to climb slopes of more than forty-five degrees.  Under a sixth of a gravity, this is no great hardship, even when one is wearing a space-suit...    


Pike's Peak, Colorado, USA:
The mountain used for the second Moon flight in Heinlein's The Man Who Sold The Moon (1950).
It was one of those glorious evenings so common in the Pikes Peak region after a day in which the sky has been well scrubbed by thunderstorms.  The track of the catapult crawled in a straight line up the face of the mountain, whole shoulders having been carved away to permit it...

Plato-craterfrom Lunar Orbiter

Plato (crater), Mare Imbrium:
   On the ledge atop the ringwall of Plato, Hansen teetered and tried to maintain his balance by pressing a gauntleted hand against an outcropping of gray Lunar rock.  The thermal-eroded surface crumbled slightly beneath the metal-tipped mitten...  H B Fyfe, Moonwalk (Space Science Fiction, November 1952).
The crater is the site of the Lunar Observatory in Clarke's Earthlight (1955).
   From space - or through a telescope on Earth - the walls of Plato look a formidable barrier when the slanting sunlight shows them to best advantage.  But in reality they are less than a kilometre high, and, if one chooses the correct route through the numerous passes, the journey out of the crater and into the Mare Imbrium presents no great difficulty...
...He eased the vehicle forward, gingerly skirting a vast talus slope where splintered rock had been accumulating for millenia.  Such slopes were extremely dangerous, for the slightest disturbance could often set them moving in slow, irresistible avalanches that would overwhelm everything before them.  For all his apparent recklessness, Jamieson took no real risks, and always gave such traps a wide berth...

Federal-Hill-ProvidenceA street on Federal Hill: not quite the "spectral hump" HPL described, but still, better than nothing

Providence, Rhode Island, USA:
This is H P Lovecraft's hometown; where he was born and where he is buried.  Though the house where he was born (at 454 Angell Street) was demolished in the 1960s, there are still many Lovecraft links in Providence.
From The Haunter of the Dark (Weird Tales, December 1936):
   Blake's study, a large southwest chamber, overlooked the front garden on one side, while its west windows - before one of which he had his desk - faced off from the brow of the hill and commanded a splendid view of the lower town's outspread roofs and of the mystical sunsets that flamed behind them.  On the far horizon were the open countryside's purple slopes.  Against these, some two miles away, rose the spectral hump of Federal Hill, bristling with huddled roofs and steeples whose remote outlines wavered mysteriously, taking fantastic forms as the smoke of the city swirled up and enmeshed them.  Blake had a curious sense that he was looking upon some unknown, ethereal world which might or might not vanish in dream if he ever tried to seek it out and enter it in person...       
References to Providence abound in Lovecraft's first masterpiece, The Call of Cthulhu (Weird Tales, February 1928) and his posthumously published novel The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (Weird Tales, May 1941 and July 1941).


Rima Hyginus - see Hyginus Cleft.


Silver City, Idaho, USA:
From Sinister Barrier (1939) by Eric Frank Russell:
   Silver City was gone; the area it once had occupied was now an enormous scar on the face of Idaho, a five-miles-wide wound dotted with wreckage through which crept, crawled and limped a pathetically small number of survivors...    


Sinus Iridum:
...As they rolled past the headland, the mighty northern wall of the Sinus Iridum - the Bay of Rainbows - swept into view.  Aeons ago the Sinus Iridum had been a complete ring mountain - one of the largest walled plains on the Moon.  But the cataclysm which had formed the Sea of Rains had destroyed the whole of the southern wall, so that only a semicircular bay is now left.  Across that bay Promontory Laplace and Promontory Heraclides stare at each other, dreaming of the day when they were linked by mountains...
   Wheeler was very quiet as the tractor rolled past the great cliffs, which stood like a line of titans full-face towards the Earth.  The green light splashing down their flanks revealed every detail of the terraced walls...
                                                              Arthur C Clarke, Earthlight (1955)


Sinus Medii:
Location of Central City, metropolis of the lunar colony, in Arthur C Clarke's Earthlight (1955).
...The cluster of great domes began to hump themselves over the horizon.  A beacon light burned on the summit of each, but otherwise they were darkened and gave no sign of life.  Some, Sadler knew, could be made transparent when desired.  All were opaque now, conserving their heat against the lunar night.
   The monocab entered a long tunnel at the base of one of the domes.  Sadler had a glimpse of great doors closing behind them - then another set, and yet another.  They're taking no chances, he thought to himself...


Stockholm, Sweden:
From Keith Laumer's Worlds of the Imperium (1962):
   He had been following me all day.
   At first I thought it was coincidence when I noticed the man on the bus from Bromma, then studying theatre announcements in the hotel lobby while I registered, and half an hour later sitting three tables away sipping coffee while I ate a hearty dinner.
   I had discarded the coincidence theory a long time ago.  Five hours had passed and he was still with me as I walked through the Old Town, medieval Stockholm still preserved on an island in the middle of the city.  I had walked past shabby windows crammed with copper pots, ornate silver, dueling pistols, and worn cavalry sabres; they were all very quaint in the afternoon sun, but grim reminders of a ruder day of violence after midnight...    


Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England:
The time-traveller Malcolm Lockridge has a hand in founding the monument, as described in Poul Anderson's The Corridors of Time (1965):
   ...meanwhile he made alliance - with the axmakers of Langdale Pike, the settlers along the Thames, even the dour downland farmers, whom he persuaded that manslaughter was not pleasing to the gods.  Now today they spoke of erecting a great temple on Salisbury Plain, as the sign and seal of their confederation...
The time-viewing mental pioneer Howard Lester in Colin Wilson's The Philosopher's Stone (1969) approaches the stone circle from the present and finds it disturbing:
   The sensations were so strong when we pulled up opposite Stonehenge that I let Littleway buy the tickets, while I crossed the road towards the stones.  It was a quite indescribable sensation.  If I were trying to represent it in a film, I should use a curious, menacing vibration.  But that would be to simplify it.  In a sense, it was more like a smell, picked up by some inner sense, a smell of time...
For the narrator of Keith Laumer's A Trace of Memory (1963) - playing sidekick to the mysterious "Foster" - a more violent surprise awaits during a night visit to a hollow close to the site of the stones:
   The surface of the ground before us seemed to tremble, then heave.  Foster snapped on his flashlight.  The earth at the bottom of the hollow rose, cracked open.  A boiling mass of luminescence churned, and a globe of light separated itself, rose, bumbling along the face of the weathered stone...    


Teneriffe Mountains:
From Earthlight (1955) by Arthur C Clarke:
   Whatever one's loyalties, it was a terrible thing to see how the screens of that great ship suddenly vanished as her generators died, leaving her helpless and unprotected in the sky.  The secondary weapons of the fort were at her instantly, tearing out great gashes of metal and boiling away her armour layer by layer.  Then, quite slowly, she began to settle towards the Moon, still on an even keel.  No one will ever know what stopped her: probably some short-circuit in her controls, since none of her crew could have been left alive.  For suddenly she went off to the east in a long, flat trajectory.  By that time most of her hull had been boiled away, and the skeleton of her framework was almost completely exposed.  The crash came, minutes later, as she plunged out of sight beyond the Teneriffe Mountains.  A blue-white aura flickered for a moment below the horizon...    


Terre Haute, Indiana, USA:
Birthplace of Paul Janus Finnegan, alias Kickaha - see Philip Jose Farmer's World of the Tiers series.


Tycho (crater):
This place is quite heavy with literary associations.
It's the scene of Trouble with Tycho (1961) by Clifford D Simak., in which prospectors come up against a strange form of life.
You stand up on the rim and look down and there is Tycho, spread out like a map before you, wild and savage, raw and cold and hard, like the entryway to hell...
This same crater is also the birthplace and home of Captain Future, whose parents, Roger and Elaine Newton, fled there to escape the villain, Victor Corvo.
...Upon the moon, beneath the surface of Tycho crater, they built their underground home.  There a son was soon born to the man and woman - a red-haired baby boy they named Curtis...                                   
                  Edmond Hamilton, Captain Future and the Space Emperor (1939, 1967).
Tycho crater is also "the site of the buried Luna City" in Isaac Asimov's The Singing Bell (Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1955).
The "Tycho Magnetic Anomaly" in Arthur C Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - both the book and the concurrent movie - is strong magnetism which turns out to be caused by the alien monolith buried beneath the crater's floor.
In Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966), Tycho Under is one of the more vulnerable lunar settlements,
                      a big natural bubble cave...  roof only metres thick...  would not take much of a bomb to crack Tycho Under. 


Urbana, Illinois, USA:
"I am a Hal Nine Thousand computer, Production Number 3.  I became operational at the Hal plant in Urbana, Illinois on January 12, 1997..."
                                                           Arthur C Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)]


Vermont, USA:
The state is the setting for The Whisperer in Darkness (Weird Tales, August 1931), the science-fictional horror novella by H P Lovecraft.
   The quaint, sightly village of Newfane, reached in less than an hour, was our last link with that world which man can definitely call his own by virtue of conquest and complete occupancy.  After than we cast off all allegiance to immediate, tangible, and time-touched things, and entered a fantastic world of hushed unreality in which the narrow, ribbon-like road rose and fell and curved with an almost sentient and purposeful caprice amidst the tenantless green peaks and half-deserted valleys.  Except for the sound of the motor, and the faint stir of the few lonely farms we passed at infrequent intervals, the only thing that reached my ears was the gurgling, insidious trickle of strange waters from numberless hidden fountains in the shadowy woods...         


Weybridge, Surrey, England:
Suffered in the Martian invasion described by H G Wells.
   Further on towards Weybridge, just over the bridge, there were a number of men in white fatigue jackets throwing up a long rampart, and more guns behind.
   "It's bows and arrows against the lightning, anyhow," said the artilleryman.  "They 'aven't seen that fire-beam yet..."                   The War of the Worlds (1898).


Woomera, South Australia:
Launch site of the first manned space-rocket (a sub-orbital flight) in Hugh Walters' Blast Off At Woomera (1957) and of the first manned rocket (to Mars) in Rex Gordon's No Man Friday (1956).  See also The Old Space Program.