The Sword and Laser discussion

What Else Are You Reading? > Lovecraft: The good, the bad, and the sometimes really awesome!

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4431 comments I never read Lovecraft until a year or so ago. Heard of the Cthulhu Mythos from having geek friends but never got around to it. Just for the heck of it picked up The Colour out of Space and Call of Cthulhu. Also Cool Air partly on an editor's request.

My take on Lovecraft at that point was that I found it interesting, well written, but not particularly engaging. It was SFF history more than anything else. I was glad to have read it but didn't feel the need to read more any time soon.

A friend read At the Mountains of Madness and was talking about it. The Lovecraft Society makes it very easy to find these stories so I downloaded it and read it. Similar reaction. It was good to learn more about the Mythos partly so I would understand references more, but the idea that Earth shares space with elder gods and old ones seems silly on its face. Well, if I can swallow Niven's origin of the Protectors in order to get to the Bussard Ramjet sections, no harm in doing the same here. Still, Madness seemed to have the MCs figuring out quite a bit from sculptures. If anything, that was the hardest piece to suspend disbelief about.

Read Herbert West - Reanimator and immediately wanted to do a spoof bit where everyone knows the narrator is also West in a Jekyll / Hyde situation. But, I've been wanting to read that due to its tie-in to Pet Sematary. Also quickly polished off The Nameless City and The Hound, about which the best I can say is that it showed Lovecraft's early promise.

So far a solid 3 out of 5, historical interest only. And then...then I read The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Wow, what a great story! Interesting even at the start despite the stilted language. Good action throughout, and the creepy factor was in every paragraph. Then the ending twist. Great stuff!

Well, there's a bunch more Cthulhu to read, and I see it separates out into direct Mythos stuff like At the Mountains of Madness, and other related stories called "Cthulhu Dream" for some reason, like Herbert West - Reanimator.

I'll definitely keep reading. Hoping for more gems like Innsmouth!

message 2: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 2355 comments Colour Out of Space was my first* introduction to Lovecraft (back in 6th-ish grade?) and that story in particular scared the pants off of me. I still find it satisfyingly creepy. These days, my favorites are probably either Mountains of Madness, Shadow Out of Time (which is thematically very similar to Mountains) or Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, which is a very, very different, very Dunsanian sort of story (and which was the direct inspiration for Kij Johnson's The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe).

*my real first encounter with Lovecraft was with his story The Outsider, included in Weird Worlds, a magazine I got from the Scholastic Book Club (edited by, of all people, R.L. Stine); but at that point I had no idea who Lovecraft was and didn't notice the author's name until a few years later when I encountered the story again in a Lovecraft collection

message 3: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4431 comments Yeah, Colour out of Space was properly creepy. One of the best parts about Lovecraft is the feeling that there is something ancient looking over your shoulder as you read. I got that with several of them, but not all. For instance Herbert West - Reanimator was so over the top I wound up laughing more than creeped out.

message 4: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1330 comments I have to say, while Lovecraft clearly had a great imagination for unspeakable eldritch horrors, I find his writing style dated and over-the-top.
Then there’s the racism. Which, hoo boy, is pretty bad! Even by the standards of its time.

message 5: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4431 comments ^I don't know if that racism was Lovecraft's or his characters'. I'm inclined to give Lovecraft the benefit of the doubt seeing as he wrote grotesque characters and wanted a way to show it. But yeah, all over. Herbert West - Reanimator was full of racism as well as snobbery. But then, they were killers and grave robbers, so not the most enlightened of people.

message 6: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 2355 comments Oh, if you go into his letters or his poetry, the racism is pretty much all his. But despite his apparently being a somewhat terrible human being (and it's complicated, of course, because in his one-on-one interactions with people who wrote to him, he was generally quite gracious), his stories still resonate for me; I don't think anybody (except maybe Olaf Stapledon) captured deep time and the vastness of the universe as well as Lovecraft; and Stapledon was taking it in an entirely different direction

back to top