Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including Love is the Law, The Last Weekend, and the forthcoming mystery novel I Am Providence. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Weird Tales, Tor.com, Best American Mystery Stories, and many other magazines and anthologies. A significant number of his short stories are Lovecraftian—in addition to the ones collected in The Nickronomicon, he has pieces forthcoming in the anthologies Letters to Lovecraft and Shadows Over Main Street. After that, Nick will probably be done.
The Outsider and the Other: Why Write Lovecraftian Fiction?
by Nick Mamatas
Why would anyone write Lovecraftian fiction? is a question that goes unasked in these days of renewed attention for H. P. Lovecraft. Perennially popular within the field of speculative fiction, Lovecraft has been, over the last decade and a half, canonized. He’s been published by both the Library of America and Penguin Classics, and derivations are ubiquitous. Throw a few tentacles into a short story, or the final boss of a video game, and a significant fraction of Lovecraft fandom will materialize and consume. They’ll kibitz and complain, mind you, but with a mouthful of suckers. Writing about Cthulhu or cosmic horror generally is in essence like writing about sensual vampires, or generation starships that have been adrift so long that their inhabitants no longer realize that their home is an ark and not a planet-it’s a set of tropes. And here I am, with a collection of my own tropey and ropey Lovecraftian fictions, The Nickronomicon, just as the issue of H. P. Lovecraft’s racism and anti-Semitism are again coming to the fore.
What better way to unravel the weirdness that is H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness than via the insightful and entertaining analyses that are Thug Notes?
REVIEW SUMMARY: This homage to H.P. Lovecraft’s “Herbert West – Reanimator” breathes life into minor Lovecraft characters. A slower pace and certain characterization stylings will get the reader into the mood of the source material.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: While getting his revenge on Dr. Herbert West, Dr. Stuart Hartwell romps through the author’s favorite Lovecraft stories.
PROS: A great way to pay a visit to the fictional world of H.P. Lovecraft; compelling cover art.
CONS: Pacing is incredibly slow especially at the beginning; episodic action often felt forced; I never connected with the protagonist
BOTTOM LINE: Readers well versed in Lovecraft lore will find a lot to love, but readers new to the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft may have a tough time getting their bearings.
Odd things are afoot in the sleepy new England town of Arkham. Strange creatures stalk the night, and even stranger research is happening at and around Miskatonic University. Dr. Stuart Hartwell is determined to get his revenge on Dr. Herbert West, the twisted man whose reanimation experiments were responsible for the deaths of Hartwell’s parents. Fans of H.P. Lovecraft (and certain fans of some early 80s cheesy horror flicks) may recognize the title of the book and the name Herbert West.
Halloween is one of the best holidays out there. It’s a perfect excuse to curl up with a hot beverage of your choice and read a spooky novel. Perhaps you break out some H.P. Lovecraft to get your yearly quota of monsters or maybe you grab a classic like Dracula or The Hound of the Baskervilles. What if I told you there was the perfect Halloween book out there that combined all these things and more?
Let me introduce you to the best Halloween book you’ve never read.
Aamzon has the table of contents for the new anthology Whispers from the Abyss: An Anthology of of H.P. Lovecraft-Inspired Fiction:
Here’s the book description:
On the subway, during lunch, or even under the fluorescent glow of your cubical—there is no escape! Now your slow descent into madness can follow you through the day, as well as the night. The WHISPERS FROM THE ABYSS ANTHOLOGY is the first ever H.P. Lovecraft inspired collection created specifically for readers on the go. All 33 spine-chilling tales are concentrated bites of terror which include works by Greg Stolze (Delta Green), Nick Mamatas (Shotguns v. Cthulhu), Tim Pratt (Marla Mason), Dennis Detwiller (Delta Green), Greg Van Eekhout (The Boy at the End of the World), A.C. Wise (Future Lovecraft), David Tallerman (Giant Thief), Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Future Lovecraft), John R. Fultz (Seven Princes), Chad Fifer (The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast).
“All about that moment I love, the moment where something approaches. The moment where you close your eyes and hope it goes away. It will. But there’ll be another story right behind it. And another. And another.” -Alasdair Stuart, host of the PSEUDOPOD podcast.
Here’s the table of contents…
Lovecraft eZine has discovered this cool short Italian film called Haselwurm. It’s about a mythical creature that lives on Alpi mountain in Italy and it’s inspired by the weird writings of H.P. Lovecraft. (Is there any other kind?)
Jonathan L. Howard is a game designer, scriptwriter, and a veteran of the computer games industry since the early ‘nineties with titles such as the Broken Sword series to his credit. He is the author of the young adult novels Katya’s World and Katya’s War as well as the Johannes Cabal Comic Fantasy series, the latest book of which is Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute.
The Appeal of Lovecraftian Horror
By Jonathan L. Howard
Monsters, done well, are scary. Hordes of monsters, done properly, can be scarier. Organised hordes of monsters, done sensibly, can be scariest.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A mystery that starts out interesting enough to compare to Lost, but loses interest in the middle and falls too far outside of reality in the end. (Not that Lost didn’t also.)
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A young guy without direction in life moves into an old apartment and gathers other tenants to investigate oddities where they live.
PROS: Strong setup for interest in characters and mystery.
CONS: Characters and mystery become less interesting by 40% mark; the ending.
BOTTOM LINE: The beginning established an interesting cast of characters and doubly so for their discoveries of this ancient building and its secrets, but the piecing together of the puzzle lost my interest and the climax was not as surprising or engaging as I hoped after liking the beginning.
Over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog today, I take a look at an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness.
From the article:
Published by Sterling, this volume adapts Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness in a classic style reminiscent of Hergé’s Tintin. In the story, Professor Dyer leads an expedition to Antarctica in September of 1930. With a biologist, engineer, physicist and meteorologist, and a geologist on board, their mission is to take core soil and rock samples from areas of unexplored Antarctica, run tests, and report their findings back home. By November, they enter McMurdo Sound, and the adventure begins.
Click over and check out the rest of the review.
Today on the Kirkus blog, I take a look at The Lovecraft Anthology, Volume 1.
From the post:
You can’t be a speculative fiction fan without coming into contact with something inspired by Lovecraft. From the Dungeon Dimensions of Pratchett’s Discworld series, to Ridley Scott’s Aliens, to Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, pop culture is full of nods to Lovecraft’s Old Ones, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that someone would choose to mine this material to build a comic series/anthology. Published by Self Made Hero, The Lovecraft Anthology certainly struck a chord with me.
Click on over to check out the rest of the post.
Ellen Datlow has posted the table of contents for her upcoming reprint anthology Lovecraft’s Monsters:
Here’s the book description:
Deliciously creepy, this loving tribute to the master of modern horror features riveting stories from his wicked progeny. H. P. Lovecraft created a wealth of legendary monstrosities a century ago, and this collection of stories reconnects with those imaginings: the massive, tentacled Cthulhu, who lurks beneath the sea waiting for his moment to rise; the demon Sultan Azathoth, who lies babbling at the center of the universe, mad beyond imagining; the Deep Ones, who come to shore to breed with mortal men; and the unspeakably-evil Hastur, whose very name brings death. Celebrating these famous beasts in all their grotesque glory, each story is a gripping new take on a classic mythos creature accompanied by an illuminating illustration. In one accursed tale, something unnatural slouches from the sea into an all-night diner to meet the foolish young woman waiting for him. In another storyline the Hounds of Tindalos struggle to survive trapped in human bodies, haunting pool halls for men they can lure into the dark. Strange, haunting, and undeniably monstrous, this is the best of Lovecraft’s creatures—reawakened and re-imagined.
Here’s the table of contents…
Here’s an in-depth documentary on H.P. Lovecraft, featuring John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Stuart Gordon, Caitlin Kiernan, Peter Straub and more…
H.P. Lovecraft was the forefather of modern horror fiction. What lead an Old World, xenophobic gentleman to create one of literature’s most far-reaching mythologies? What attracts even the minds of the 21st century to these stories of unspeakable abominations and cosmic gods? This release is a chronicle of the life, work, and mind that created these weird tales as told by many of today’s luminaries of dark fantasy including John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Stuart Gordon, Caitlin Kiernan, and Peter Straub. Extras include 90 minutes of extended interviews, stills galleries of Lovecraftian art, “”Making of the Music”” featurette, trailer, and coming attractions.
With October a traditionally – horror themed month capped with Halloween, it seemed appropriate to follow up Bram Stoker and Dracula with another notable horror author: H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve found Lovecraft’s stories to be delightfully macabre, and living in Vermont, I can identify with his love of the sheer age of the location, and can see just why this corner of the country is so suited for horror fiction.
Read up on H.P. Lovecraft and the Other over on the Kirkus Reviews blog.
Jonathan Wood is an Englishman in New York. He is the author of the Lovecraftian urban fantasy novel, No Hero, named one of the best paranormal fantasy books of 2011 by Paul Goat Allen. He also writes odd little things that show up in odd little places, such as The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Chizine, and Weird Tales. Follow him on Twitter as @thexmedic.
Looking for Lovecraft in All the Wrong Places
If there was a fight between the big three staple monsters of horror writing—vampires, werewolves, and zombies—do you know who would win? Goddamn Cthulhu. I know he wasn’t in the fight. It doesn’t matter. He’s Cthulhu. He has tentacles coming out of his face. He is dead and dreaming. He’s on an island called Rl’yeh. It has an apostrophe in it and isn’t really pronounceable. He goddamn wins. Live with it.
This is the genius of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. A man whose horror writing was so good that he has transcended the silliness of his own last name. Because Lovecraft tapped into a terror deeper than any fear inspired by our own bestial inner nature (suck it werewolves) – he managed to capture and crystallize exactly how small and meaningless we are in the face of the large uncaring universe. His work taps into a profound existential terror that can freeze your blood.
And then he gave it tentacles.
A couple of weeks ago, I used this space to speculate about the possibility that director Ridley Scott’s forthcoming Prometheus may prove to be a kind of heady hybridizing of 2001: A Space Odyssey with Lovecraftian horror. Now comes the news that the Lovecraftian elements of Prometheus may be so close to certain key aspects of Guillermo del Toro’s long-planned and long-anticipated adaptation of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness that they may have killed the project. And this comes straight from the mouth, or rather the keyboard, of the man himself.
By now, I probably don’t need to rehash the long and winding saga of del Toro’s plan, currently approaching two decades old, to bring Lovecraft’s Madness to life as a lavish, big-budget movie with all of the monsters, horror, and gore intact, since it seems to have entered the horror and science fiction wings of contemporary pop culture as a kind of living urban lore. One of the best accounts of the whole thing was published last year by The New Yorker in a feature article/essay/profile that presented del Toro as a genuine auteur and creative genius with a defining bent for the dark fantastic. The bulk of the piece hinges on his efforts to get Madness made. In case you haven’t seen it, here are key passages that convey both the nature of del Toro’s struggle through the Hollywood minefield and the nature of the movie he hoped to make:
It’s currently October, the spiritual heart of autumn, season of darkening skies and shivering shadows, when death and life, fantasy and reality, night and day, bleed briefly into each other to generate a sense of infinite vistas lying just beyond our ability to grasp. Or at least that’s how it unfolds in the Missouri Ozarks, my lifelong home until a couple of years ago. In 2008 my family and I relocated to Central Texas, and down here in my new native country, daytime temps are still climbing into the 80s. There’s nary a red or golden leaf in sight. The forecast for Halloween itself, the spiritual focal point of the whole month, calls for sunny skies and a high of 85. I don’t often quote Charles Schulz, but since he conceived of the Great Pumpkin, it seems appropriate under current circumstances: Rats.
Still, none of this means the season is failing to inspire its archetypal mood, a pungent emotional coloration composed of equal parts wistful longing, melancholy brooding, and shadowy fascination. And this has got me to reflecting seriously on the significance of this mood for the religion-spirituality-speculative fiction crossover arena that’s my focus here at Stained Glass Gothic. To cut to the chase: The archetypal mood that I and millions of other people have come to associate with autumn in general and October in particular touches on a peculiar emotional/spiritual upwelling that’s central to the concerns of fantasy and horror, and that I first began consciously experiencing as an early adolescent.
Maybe it’s the beer talkin’, but: This. Looks. Awesome.
Jeff, a down on his luck office worker finds out he is the last living relative of horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft. What he doesn’t know is that Lovecraft’s monsters are real and will soon threaten the very existence of mankind. Jeff and his best friend Charlie are forced to embark on a perilous adventure and they enlist the help of high school acquaintance, Paul, a self proclaimed Lovecraft specialist. Together the three unlikely heroes must protect an alien relic and prevent the release of an ancient evil, known as Cthulhu.