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October 1, 2010 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Recommended Lovecraft-inspired fiction and comics?

I've been reading a lot of Lovecraft-inspired stuff lately. To say that it varies in quality is understatement. So, naturally, I turn to you: what are the stories, novels, anthologies, collections, comics I shouldn't be missing? It can be Cthulhu Mythos stuff or more tangentially inspired. I'm not looking for specific recommendations of Lovecraft's own work, most of which I've read (and which was covered here.)

I found it hard to believe, but I don't see that this has been asked before. This touched on it, but was broader.
posted by Zed to Writing & Language (45 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hellboy
posted by mkultra at 7:26 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hellboy is a great comic with some fairly Lovecraftian themes.

MetaFilter's own cstross has written the short story A Colder War, and the (unconnected other than the Lovecraft theme) "Laundry" series which starts with The Atrocity Archives.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:27 AM on October 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Alan Moore's The Courtyard. A short and tasty read.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:31 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I liked Jason Thompson's comic book adaptation of Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, though I think it's mostly out of print at present (I see the first two of the five issues are for sale via his website.)
posted by fings at 7:38 AM on October 1, 2010


Lovecraft Unbound, edited by Ellen Datlow, is a recent anthology of Lovercraft stories by contemporary writers.
posted by ninebelow at 7:38 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The mythos is one of the big, big pieces of source material for The Invisibles.

There's also Simon's Necronomicon. I can't vouch for the quality.
posted by griphus at 7:40 AM on October 1, 2010


'Shoggoths In Bloom' is a Hugo-nominated story by Elizabeth Bear which is available for free on her website.
posted by ninebelow at 7:41 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Have you played the Interactive Fiction game Anchorhead? (Obviously, you'll want to avoid reading too much of the summary there or the game could be spoiled.)

There's an online version here, if you don't have experience with downloading IF.
posted by bcwinters at 7:41 AM on October 1, 2010


I'm a sucker for Lovecraft pastiches.

Move Under Ground: On The Road + Lovecraft.
Scream For Jeeves: Wodehouse + Lovecraft.
A Study in Emerald: Sherlock Holmes + Lovecraft.
The C Programming Language: Kernighan & Ritchie + Lovecraft.
posted by zamboni at 7:42 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Neil Gaiman has the very popular "A Study in Emerald" (A mash-up between Cthulu and Sherlock Holmes) available at http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/Short_Stories. (There's also the more jokey "I, Cthulu".)

Following up Alan Moore's The Courtyard: that was later adapted by someone else into a comic. Moore's sequel to the The Courtyard sequel is called Neonomicon and is just done as a comic book. Issue #1 is all that's been released so far.
posted by Hartster at 7:43 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eternal Darkness is a pretty good Lovecraft inspired video game. It includes a sanity meter that can cause you to hallucinate if you stare too long at some of the monsters.
posted by electroboy at 7:44 AM on October 1, 2010


Locke and Key by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez would be right up your street, also, maybe some of the Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing?
posted by oh pollo! at 7:45 AM on October 1, 2010


I'm fond of the Uzumaki volumes. Very much Lovecraftian in feel, a bit too much padding, but the arc of the town's total transformation or destruction is a terrific exploration of completely inhuman horror that humanity's ultimately terribly small and hopeless against. It's good stuff.
posted by Drastic at 7:46 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lovecraft is Missing.
posted by procrastination at 7:49 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


C.L. Moore has some great stories that have a Lovecraftian touch: The Bright Illusion, The Black God's Kiss, and even stories like Shambleau from the Northwest Smith series.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 8:07 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's The Strange Adventures of H. P. Lovecraft, a comic I've been meaning to (but have yet to) read, with the premise that all of Lovecraft's creations come to life when he sleeps. Obviously there are liberties taken, as Lovecraft seems to be portrayed as a gun and sword toting badass, but it looks like a fun comic.
posted by runaway ballista at 8:16 AM on October 1, 2010


The Jennifer Morgue and The Atrocity Archives are two Charles Stross books that lovingly mash up the Lovecraftian universe with James Bondian spycraft.
posted by musofire at 8:23 AM on October 1, 2010


Pickman's Modem in the Cthulhu 2000 compilation is a pretty fun story.

Jeffrey Thomas writes Cthulhu mythos-tinged cyberpunk; I'd recommend Deadstock.

+1 to the cstross suggestions above, they're fun.

Also not sure if you've read them but there's definitely some gems in the writings of Lovecraft's own inspiration Lord Dunsany and of course Klarkash-Ton.
posted by reptile at 8:48 AM on October 1, 2010


Necronauts is both Lovecraftian and had Lovecraft as a character
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:11 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Taboo was an anthology that dealt pretty much exclusively in this kind of thing. I have one, and there are a couple on Amazon. I have no idea how available they are.

As I just found out, be careful googling "taboo comics" though.
posted by cmoj at 9:21 AM on October 1, 2010


Anything by Ramsey Campbell, who is one of the few authors to unironically write quality, literary horror in the Lovecraftian tradition. Try The Voice of the Beach, which is straight-up homage and one of my favorite short stories of all time. If you want a novel, I recommend Midnight Sun, which nods to both Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood, and is very entertaining.

I am also fond of Neil Gaiman's A Study in Emerald, a very clever Lovecraft + Sherlock Holmes pastiche, which can be found in his short story collection Fragile Things.
posted by eugenen at 10:05 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh blimey, I probably spend far too much time reading Lovecraft inspired stuff. And much of it is indeed awful. I think the general rule of thumb for me is that, if it's intended to be serious and not some fun pastiche (which has it's place) then it has to get at the core of what he was doing, and not just emulate surface elements. Adopting purple prose and throwing in a few references to the Necronomicon doesn't really cut it.

Oh, and there's probably a bit of a line between Lovecrafts contemporary's who were in active collaboration with him and people who came afterwards and just picked things up. Though if that's a line of quality is questionable: August Derleth made a right mess of things.

OK, so some enthusiastic seconding of things above:
* A Colder War by Stross is outstanding. Go read it online now.
* The other Stross Lovecraftian stuff is fun, but a little lighter on the bleak cosmic horror. Though it does seem to be darkening up considerably.
* Uzumaki does have a nice Lovecraftian feel to it, nothing explicit.
* I enjoyed A Study in Emerald and The C Programming Language et al, but we're in "fun pastiche" territory there.
* Shoggoths in Bloom is pretty great, though I'd question her commitment to the bleak nihlistic Lovecraftian ethos. Also by Liz Bear are a couple of great Lovecraftian space opera stories, one of which is in the Lovecraft Unbound anthology.

A couple of things I'd add:
Notebook Found in a Deserted House - Robert Bloch really hits his stride here, using a voice very different from the previous Lovecraftian norm.
The Barrens by F. Paul Wilson
The Delta Green RPG materials.
Decare by Tim Powers
N. By Stephen King - actually rather a lot of King stuff.

...and I'll probably think of more as the day goes on.

Avoid:
Brian Lumley
The Hive by Tim Curran - a horrible, horrible mess of a "sequel" to Mountains of Madness
posted by Artw at 10:12 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also taken together it looks like The Courtyard and Neonomicon might be going to turn out to be something quite fantastic, though it's a little early to say yet. Definitely read The Courtyard.
posted by Artw at 10:14 AM on October 1, 2010


@artw

Yes! I can't believe I forgot "N." One of his very best works, very Lovecraftian in tone, and it scared the pants off me. I listened to it on audiobook while driving through backwoods Northern California in the middle of the night, which may have had something to do with it.

I'd also recommend King's "1408" and "From a Buick 8" -- not precisely on point, but they evoke the same fear-of-the-total-unknown that Lovecraft trafficked in.
posted by eugenen at 10:17 AM on October 1, 2010


For an awesome, stripped down and lean Lovecraftian tale that predates Lovecraft you can't beat The Willows by Algernon Blackwood. It's stunning.

Arthur Machen is also of interest, but he may be a little much to wade through. You'll want to at least try The White People.
posted by Artw at 10:19 AM on October 1, 2010


For some excellent off-the-beaten-path Lovercraftien fiction, I most highly recommend Threshold, Low Red Moon, and Daughter of Hounds by Caitlín R. Kiernan.

Those three books follow a group of characters, and that's the sequential order in which they were published. Here's my review (non-spoilery) of why you may choose to not read them in that order. And FWIW, the author enjoyed my take them.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:53 AM on October 1, 2010


A lot of King's short stories are very Lovecraftian in tone and he's done a few more direct homages like 'N' and 'Crouch End'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:38 AM on October 1, 2010


It's not nearly as serious as the rest of these recommendations, but Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. I enjoyed it, and love Mythos-based movies/stories.
posted by mostlybecky at 11:50 AM on October 1, 2010


A lot of King's short stories are very Lovecraftian in tone and he's done a few more direct homages like 'N' and 'Crouch End'

The Mist might be Kings finest Lovecraftian work.

Laird Barron and Marc Laidlaw are othernames to watch - you'll get a sampling of both if your read the Lovecraft Unbound anthology.

You may be already familiar with some of Laidlaw's work without knowing it, as he's worked on the story elements of the game Half Life (which were influenced heavily by, you've guessed it, The Mist by Stephen King).
posted by Artw at 12:12 PM on October 1, 2010


If Lovecraft Unbound works out for you then Horrors Beyone and Horrors Beyond 2 are another pair of anthologys of modern Lovecraftian stories with a few gems in.
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on October 1, 2010


If inspiration includes parody, how about "The Book of the Dunwich Cow," in Mark E. Rogers's The Adventures of Samurai Cat?
posted by brianogilvie at 12:38 PM on October 1, 2010


TED Klien - though I didn't get on that well with The Ceremonies, I hear The Events at Poroth Farm is a better version of the same story. Black Man with a Horn is very well anthologised so you should be able to find it somewhere.
Colin Wilson - Often has areally strange, interesting take on Lovecraftian STuff. The short story The Return of the Lloigor is particularly worth hunting down.
Poppy Z. Brite did a neat rewrite of The Hound as His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood.

This guide to Cthulhu Mythos Anthologies might help.
posted by Artw at 12:59 PM on October 1, 2010


Alan Moore's Neonomicon is Mythos-inspired and just started coming out two months ago; you can probably snag a copy of #1 easily.

You can, um, peruse YouTube for the Real Ghostbusters episode "The Collect Call of Cathulhu" by Michael Reaves, who also co-edited the Cthulhu/ Holmes anthology Shadows Over Baker Street.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:23 PM on October 1, 2010


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey: "For some excellent off-the-beaten-path Lovercraftien fiction, I most highly recommend Threshold, Low Red Moon, and Daughter of Hounds by Caitlín R. Kiernan"

I really like her stuff, and thought Threshold in particular was pretty great, but it annoyed the hell out of me that she totally misunderstandood what it means that a regular heptagon is not constructible with a straightedge and compass.

For those who haven't read the book, the author apparently thought that this meant that a regular heptagon on a plane can't actually exist, and she uses it several times as an example of Lovecraftian impossible geometry. At one point a character even feels discomfort looking at one, since it seems to shift and twist because of its supposed impossibility.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:49 PM on October 1, 2010


fairytale of los angeles: "Michael Reaves, who also co-edited the Cthulhu/ Holmes anthology Shadows Over Baker Street"

I bought Shadows over Baker Street after reading A Study in Emerald, and boy was I ever disappointed. Gaiman's story is basically the only good thing in it.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:50 PM on October 1, 2010


I've really enjoyed Derek Pegritz's ongoing Lovecraftian appropriation of the events of 9/11 - City of Pillars. He used to have another great story - "Footnotes to a Species Once Called Humanity" - but some sort of server glitch seems to have erased it from the internet.
posted by robotot at 4:03 PM on October 1, 2010


You might enjoy the work of Thomas Ligotti, his stuff has a very Lovecraftian vibe.
posted by Bron at 8:35 PM on October 1, 2010


Wow, thanks everyone! I deliberately didn't say what I'd already read to leave it open-ended (and, well, to save time). I'm a big Alan Moore fanboy and wrote this question the morning after reading the Courtyard adaptation (having read the original prose story years ago) and I'm reading Neonomicon. And I've enjoyed Stross' "A Colder War" and Laundry books (haven't read the latest yet.) Though I'm a Gaiman fan, I hadn't read "I, Cthulhu", which was fun -- thanks, but I've read the others mentioned (and "A Study in Emerald" is the only thing I remember from Shadows Over Baker Street. I loved "The Invisibles" and plan to reread it some time. I liked Bear's "Shoggoths in Bloom", and liked Bloch's "Notebook found in a Deserted House" a lot.

"Anchorhead" (like "The Lurking Horror" and "Slouching Towards Bedlam") is on my list of IF I have to play some day.

The Machen and Blackwood will definitely be going on my e-reader.

I'll follow up more later...

Any particular recommendations for Hellboy? I read the first collection, Seeds of Destruction and thought it was OK but wasn't really moved to seek out more.
posted by Zed at 6:50 PM on October 3, 2010


Seeds of Destruction is pretty much the weakest of the bunch - Mignola was working with a writer and, to be honest, that was holding him back - once he gained confidence in his own writing the series was much better. That said, while it has it's Lovecraftian elements Mignola is probably more of a fan of Robert E. Howard and the two-fisted pulps, and the series has more of a weird folkloric quality than Lovecrafts cosmic horrors. That said, still bloody great though. Read them in sequence for best effect and Seeds will soon be forgotten and forgiven.

Also worth reading is BPRD, which you'll want to start once Hellboy goes to Africa. Actually BPRD is quite a bit more Lovecraftian.
posted by Artw at 7:00 PM on October 3, 2010


I'll be looking for back issues of the "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" adaptation (I take it the graphic novel reprint never materialized?); I've got the number 2 spot for Lovecraft Unbound on my Paperbackswap wish list; I actually have "Scream for Jeeves" but hadn't read it for a long time because I hadn't read any Wodehouse. Now I've read some Wodehouse and should get to it. Likewise, I figure I should read some Beats before trying Move Under Ground. I can't believe I hadn't seen the K&R/Lovecraft mashup -- thanks for it.

I'm a fan of C.L. Moore, but haven't read most of the Jirel of Joiry and Northwest Smith stuff -- it's going on the list, as are Necronauts, Uzumaki, Threshold, the Ramsey Campbell and the Stephen King (haven't read him in a long time.) I used to spend far too much time reading RPG materials without doing any RPG-ing. Maybe I'll try again with Delta Green. And I'll keep my eye out for "The Strange Adventures of HPL" -- I know its creators were at Alternative Press Expo before; maybe they will be in a couple of weeks.

The one thing I remember from reading Lovecraft's Legacy is that I didn't like "The Barrens," which seemed like an awful lot of build-up toward no payoff.

Is Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters Lovecraftian beyond having tentacles on a face?

The public library has Cthulhu 2000 which I see includes "His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood" and "Black Man with a Horn" so it'll be the next up.
posted by Zed at 10:03 AM on October 4, 2010


Previous AskMe on Delta Green, which can be tricky to get ahold of.
posted by Artw at 10:29 AM on October 4, 2010


Yeah... at those prices, maybe I won't be trying Delta Green.
posted by Zed at 11:23 AM on October 4, 2010


It's worth stalking eBay for, IMHO, but don;t pay crazy prices.
posted by Artw at 11:31 AM on October 4, 2010


SPECWEAPS is a story of weaponized Lovecraftian horros, which might be a bit dry as it is written in the style of military reports but I found it very compelling.
posted by Glow Bucket at 4:49 AM on October 6, 2010


Sorry, here is the link: SPECWEAPS at everything2
posted by Glow Bucket at 4:49 AM on October 6, 2010


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