Intellects Vast And Cool And Unsympathetic - The Best Cosmic Horror Stories

This is a list for novels, novellas, short stories etc. featuring alien beings or intelligences that are a danger to humanity but regard us as insignificant (ranging from complete indifference to viewing us as barely sentient or vermin to be exterminated). The concept of horror revolving not around anthropomorphic evils like the Devil but around indifferent beings of cosmic power was popularized by American writer H.P. Lovecraft - see here for more details.

Exercise caution when adding books to this list. Many traditional alien-invasion stories do not qualify for it because they depict aliens as imperialistic conquerors with discernable motivations and usually no more than human intelligence (e.g. Harry Turtledove's Worldwar and Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Footfall). H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (from which the list title comes) is on the lower edge of cosmic horror (and was presumably viewed much more like cosmic horror when it was first published, as extraterrestrial invasion was a new concept), since its Martians are largely inscrutable and exterminate humans like vermin, but their actions take the form of a recognizable military invasion.

Note that this list can also include works which feature both inscrutable cosmic-horror aliens and aliens with recognizable motivations who can be meaningfully communicated with (cf. Stephen Baxter's Xeelee series).
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42 books · 24 voters · list created July 12th, 2016 by Keith (votes) .
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