My friend Jay Dowling just sent me an email containing a link to an article on Gizmodo accompanied by one cryptic word guaranteed to send shivers up and down one’s spine. That word was “Cthulhu” (I’m shivering already).
As I’m sure you are already aware, Howard Phillips Lovecraft was an American writer of weird, science, fantasy, and horror fiction who is best known for his creation of the Cthulhu Mythos. In “The Call of Cthulhu,” Lovecraft describes a statue of Cthulhu as: “A monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind.”
For those interested in genealogy, the cosmic entity Yog-Sothoth is the offspring of the Nameless Mists, which were born of the deity Azathoth. Yog-Sothoth mated with Shub-Niggurath to produce the twin deities Nug and Yeb, while Nug sired Cthulhu through parthenogenesis. Suffice it to say that Cthulhu is not something you want to meet on a dark night.
In the aforementioned article, Harvard’s Robotic Tentacle Gripper Is Pure Nightmare Fuel, we are introduced to a tentacle-inspired robotic gripper design that would not be out of place in a horror movie or a Lovecraft novel. Take a look at this video on YouTube.
I don’t know about you, but there’s something “otherworldly” about this gripper that makes me feel all squiggly, as it were. It doesn’t feel right (no pun intended), in the same way that crabs scuttling sideways gives one pause for thought.
I’m also reminded of the shoggoths, which can extrude limbs and form other organs at will, and which featured so strongly in At the Mountains of Madness by Lovecraft. The description of the vast, ancient, abandoned stone city in Antarctica haunts me to this day. Having said this, I’d still love to see this city with my own eyes, but there’s no chance I’d venture into the underground tunnels where the preternatural shoggoths skulk.
Returning to the point at hand (again, no pun intended), I don’t think I would feel comfortable if my otherwise humanoid robot boasted (and flaunted) tentacular grippers instead of five-fingered appendages. How about you? Do you have any thoughts you’d care to share with respect to this tentacular robot gripper?