Monday, October 13, 2014

'Tis the Season

Every year I try to read 52 short stories, i.e., one per week. This works out well for many reasons. First of all, I love the short form. Second, it helps support the short form industry. And third, it allows me to read per season. Sometimes I'm in the middle of a long novel when a particular season rolls around, like the Halloween season coming up on us, and I don't want to abandon the novel I'm reading to read a more seasonally appropriate novel. The short story, thus, solves all my problems.

This year, I'm going to reread some great H.P. Lovecraft short stories.

During Lovecraft's times and prior, the distinction between science fiction and horror was not as sharp as it sometimes is today. For instance, many consider Shelly's Frankenstein as a horror novel, but among genre readers, it is actually the first distinct science fiction novel. By Lovecraft's time, though, these types of stories were referred to as Fantastic Tales or Tales of the Fantastic, and many times combined elements of horror and science fiction. What we call fantasy today was called S&S for Sword & Sorcery, which also border-lined into horror.

What made Lovecraft's tales of the fantastic unique though was that Lovecraft was an atheist, while the traditional monsters of the day were always in some ways tied into occultism, demons, or Satan worship. So how did this atheist author address that little gap? Well, his monsters were creatures escaped from other dimensions, gaps between parallel universes, or escapees from the Eternal Void. All could be summoned, contacted, or accidently released if an individual - any individual - had the arcane knowledge to do so. A person didn't have to have magic power or be the seventh son of a seventh son to do so.

So to wrap up here... In the mood for some horror as these leaves turn color, a chill nips in the air, and the traditional icons of Halloween pop up all around you? Turn to the short form, read a few of tales of other-worldly beings, and you'll be all set. Remember don't stare too deeply into The Abyss because it will stare back.

Until Next Time...
Cthulhuly Yours,

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