7. Supernatural Horror in Literature

by Red Emma

When I began this series so many weeks ago, I promised to discuss whether anyone has cause to believe the Old Ones are real entities.

The Old Ones are the beings from the void, the chaos of the universe, who are malevolent only in their indifference to the fragility of life on Earth. I’ve discussed Azathoth in a previous week – Lovecraft’s incarnation of a senseless, uncaring universe, the progenitor of all life who does so without purpose or meaning. That we are a cosmic mistake or joke is the most powerful blow Lovecraft could ever have delivered to the delicate human ego, and the true horror of his stories often derives from the full frontal exposure to our own meaningless in the vastness of the cosmos. Cthulhu, his most famous creation, is an Old One, as is Nyarlathotep.

6. The Colour Out of Space

by Red Emma

This week, the penultimate post in Red Emma’s Lovecraft Halloween Blog won’t veer into gender politics or scathing indictments of eugenicist bigots, nor will it confront the ingrained attitudes of classism, but will focus on story. “The Colour Out of Space” is one of Lovecraft’s best-written tales of horror and suspense.

Even Lovecraft thought so. According to biographer S.T. Joshi, Lovecraft considered it his best work until his death in 1937.

5. At the Mountains of Madness

by Red Emma

Two ships sail from Boston Harbor on September the 2nd, 1930, one the stately Miskatonic and the other, the rugged Arkham. At the helm of each is a weathered whaling-boat captain, and distributed between the two ships are a drilling apparatus, four men of science, their assistants and skilled mechanics, and their means for surviving the frigid Antarctic. Thus begins the journey of the fateful Miskatonic Expedition.

3. The Dunwich Horror

by Red Emma

When a traveler in north central Massachusetts takes the wrong fork at the junction of Aylesbury pike just beyond Dean's Corners he comes upon a lonely and curious country.

The ground gets higher, and the brier-bordered stone walls press closer and closer against the ruts of the dusty, curving road. The trees of the frequent forest belts seem too large, and the wild weeds, brambles and grasses attain a luxuriance not often found in settled regions. At the same time the planted fields appear singularly few and barren; while the sparsely scattered houses wear a surprisingly uniform aspect of age, squalor, and dilapidation.

Without knowing why, one hesitates to ask directions from the gnarled solitary figures spied now and then on crumbling doorsteps or on the sloping, rock-strewn meadows.

2. The Rats in the Walls

by Red Emma

Last week, my astute coworker José did what we in the activism community refer to as, “call me on my sh*t.” Meaning, he cut right to the obvious issue readers of Lovecraft must grapple with in a more enlightened 21st century: the Lovecraft’s real world bigotry that seeped into his writing. I may have hoped to skip this issue. Lovecraft is well-known for his racism and anti-Semitism, and we're just beginning to discuss his classism as well. I hoped other people had written enough about it, but José is right: I have to face the issue before I can blog on.

1. The Thing in the Moonlight

by Red Emma

What terminology do we use to describe the stories of strange and unfathomable beings? Lovecraft and his contemporaries in the early twentieth century called them weird tales, but for we readers of the new millenium, this term might not hold the same cachet. We could begin with genre definitions. In Lovecraft’s work, we find themes of horror – he was called the “dark, baroque prince of horror” by Stephen King, and was graduated to the “pope of horror” by China Miéville – but we also find themes in his work that are more neatly categorized as science fiction, and still others so fantastic they defy categorization.