My knowledge of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, until very recently, was minimal. I knew of his work, mainly from the board games we play that are loosely based upon them – Arkham Horror, Elder Sign, Eldritch Horror; these games are wonderful and horrific and often just plain weird.
I also knew of the Cthulu Mythos, the Great Old Ones and the dreaded Necronomicon through countless references in a million and one horror, sci-fi and mystery books, films and video games. Lovecraft’s works are sewn into the very linings of so many great genre works.
But until last week I had never read a word written by the man who had influenced some of my favourite authors, directors and even musicians. I’d never read a single thing written by Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
I’ve fixed that. I bought a mammoth Collected Works and started at the beginning. I’ve read of Herbert West and his terrible experiments, of Randolph Carter and his doomed colleague and of the poor, unnamed, unnamable Outsider. I’m quickly making my way through a thousand pages of otherworldly horrors by one of the most incredible authors I’ve ever read. Yes, there are serious issues with racism in his works – a product of the time he was writing. Yes, a couple of his stories have a phoned-in feel. But I suppose that’s what you get from a pulp horror writer, who struggled to make a living during the 1920s and 30s.
If you’ve never read anything by Lovecraft I would urge you to fix this now. His heavily-descriptive, often bizarre stories of unknowable terrors in an unforgiving world, of madness and murders and monsters, are wonderful. I’m sure I’ll be reviewing some of his stories in the weeks to come because, like nothing else has for a while, he has inspired me to write fiction again. I’ve rarely written horror but now it’s all I want to write. So, yeah. H.P. Lovecraft. Give his stuff a go…