Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

H. P. Lovecraft Link Roundup

Ron Edwards’s comment on this week’s Appendix N installment was that “this is like watching someone crawl out from under layers and layers of post-1980 crusty blankets.” There are so many wrongheaded or half-correct takes on Lovecraft floating around by now, it’s hard to even talk about the fact that he is misunderstood and misrepresented. I worry that in attempting to point this out, that I can only be understood by people that already “get” it. Maybe to everyone else I just sound like a madman. But hey… if you sit down and read six hundred pages of Lovecraft stories and don’t sound like madman after that, maybe you’re doing something wrong!

Anyway, here’s my Appendix N post for this week:

RETROSPECTIVE: The Complete Cthulhu Mythos Tales by H. P. Lovecraft

And here is a roundup of other posts about this influential author:

Grognardia — “Influential though he is, Lovecraft is still very much a “back room” influence on most modern fantasy. That is, lots of writers of fantasy make use of Lovecraftian themes and elements, but very few of them employ anything like his cosmicism — the belief that Man and his works are, in the great scheme of things, insignificant. That’s hardly a good foundation for heroic fantasy in most people’s eyes (though I disagree), which is why many gamers are content to call tentacled monsters “Lovecraftian” and not give a second thought to just what that adjective means”

Cirsova — “Lovecraft’s typical protagonist is a boring asexual scholarly type who winds up in some horrible predicament that ends with him going crazy or being torn to pieces. The horror lies primarily in the situation itself with little empathetic fear, as we don’t necessarily relate or connect to the typical Lovecraftian protagonist (though friendless, family-less archivists and librarians might, I don’t know).”

Swords & Dorkery — “H.P. Lovecraft has become a sort of pop icon, at least within a sizable subculture of gamers, horror aficionados, and general “geek culture,” although as the author notes he is more frequently referenced or parodied than actually read. In all fairness, there is a considerable part of Lovecraft’s work that is pretty rough going, due to its conservativeness (e.g. his early work and attempts to copy Dunsany) or due to its unapologetic racism and xenophobia (which even Robert E. Howard, himself criticized for bigotry, chastised Lovecraft for!). However Martin focuses on several of Lovecraft’s most famous and acclaimed works (“The call of Cthulhu,” “The whisperer in the darkness,” At the mountains of madness, and a few other key works), and in doing so makes a powerful case to take Lovecraft’s mature work much more seriously than it hitherto has outside of “weird tales” fandom.”

19th Level — “Such controversy still continues with modern writers. For example, Orson Scott Card has written some fantastic science fiction, including the classic Ender’s Game but at the same time I find his views against homosexuals reprehensible. I personally find it much easier to separate my enjoyment of Lovecraft’s fiction from his racist views than I do with the works of writers who are still with us. Put simply, Lovecraft derives no personal benefit from my support. He’s been in the grave for decades and left no heirs. On the other hand, every Orson Scott Card book I purchase provides him with some financial benefit.”

Dreams in the Lich House — “I will even do my best to stifle complaints that once again, Lovecraftian critters will be used as fodder in standard D&D campaigns everywhere, stand-ins for ordinary monsters, instead of dread-inspiring antagonists in horror scenarios…”

Akratic Wizardry — “I am not surprised at all that Lovecraft was influenced by Epicurean philosophy. The Epicureans thought that the universe was composed ultimately only of ‘atoms’. The gods were made of atoms like everything else (thus essentially ‘super aliens’, and not ‘supernatural’ creatures at all). Neither willing nor able to prevent evil or suffering, the gods dwelt in the vast empty spaces between worlds. Sounds rather Lovecraftian, no?”

Blood of Prokoprius — “The grand sum total of everything humanity has ever done or will ever do sans God is nothing. I was personally confronted with this reality while wandering around Castle Siklos in southern Hungary on an overcast October day during the Yugoslavian Civil War. Just south of me, the Croatian stronghold of Osijek was under siege by Serbian forces. I felt the shock wave of each artillery shell rip through my gut and shatter my heart. In a world without God, all that remains is the endless struggle for power, at the of which is that black nothingness of a forgotten death. The typical response of an HPL character to such a reality — mind crushing despair — actually seems reasonable. Any one who actually has the fortitude to stand up in the face of this chaos truly is a hero.”

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One response to “H. P. Lovecraft Link Roundup

  1. Cirsova May 26, 2015 at 10:46 am

    I would perhaps now revise my statement to imply that whatever empathetic fears we have are those that we ourselves have brought to the table as individuals living in a confusing modern world filled with everyday, practically mundane, things which we cannot understand but merely accept rather than through relating to any more intimate or personal experiences which the protagonist may have had.

    In that sense, we can ALL relate to those boring professorial types. “Fuckin’ Magnets” indeed…

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