In November of 1916, Howard Phillips Lovecraft published his first short story, The Alchemist, in the United Amateur Press Association. While his commercial work would come later, there is an argument to be made that November should be considered the birth month of cosmic horror as a genre.
Lovecraft wasn’t the first to write weird fiction; even Lovecraft had his influences. Writers like Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, Robert Chambers, and Edgar Allen Poe were all writing of the strange and macabre before ol’ Howie. Most cosmic horror fans will acknowledge their impact, but I think we’d all agree that it was Lovecraft’s writing that became the definitive work of the genre. Lovecraft’s mythos has gone on to influence a myriad of people; it was his stories that encouraged others to delve into writing and working within the genre. His writing helped forge the genre into the beast it is today.
In celebration, I figured it’d be fun to explore the current universe of cosmic horror and look at some of my primary sources for Lovecraftian fiction on the market today. This will be just a tiny sample of the ever expanding universe of weird fiction. If you have recommendations of your own, leave a comment!
The Bell Forging Cycle
Why not start with my books? (Buy ’em here.) Don your keff, lace up your boots, and enter my dystopian genre-bending vision of the Territories. A world where humanity is no longer alone and strange creatures inhabit vast multi-leveled megalopolises built upon the backs of drowned cities. A place of violence, where killers stalk narrow streets, and shadowy cults work ancient rituals to awaken forgotten elder gods. Standing in their way is one soul, a road-weary caravan master armed with an antique revolver, a droll wit, and a hardened resolve. Read an excerpt at any of the links below.
The Stars Were Right • Old Broken Road • Red Litten World
Cosmic Horror Small Presses
Weird fiction is still alive and well, recently Penguin re-released a limited edition paperback, and a quick search for “Lovecraft” will usher forth all sorts of collections. However, some of the most exciting work in cosmic horror can be found among the small presses.
Publisher of original novels, substantial collections, and some great anthologies, Word Horde, is one of my favorite small presses. The quality of their end product is great, Ross Lockhart and the team there does an excellent job in seeking out new talent and releasing it into the world.
Born from one of the titans of the weird fiction community, the Lovecraft eZine, this cosmic horror press publishes modern mythos and releases some solid anthologies. Very much worth checking out.
Specializing in horror and dark fiction since 1985, this indie publishing house serves up all manners of terrors from some fairly big names. If you want something collectible, make sure to check out their special hardcover editions.
This small press focuses on collected works from cosmic horrors greats, men like Ramsey Campbell, Lovecraft himself and Clark Ashton Smith. They also delve into nonfiction as well, featuring work from scholars like S. T. Joshi.
Cosmic Horror Podcasts
Some of my favorite podcasts focusing on Lovecraft and cosmic horror.
While Lovecraftian fiction is often at the center of discussion, this podcast covers a wide variety of horror in general as well as other strange and often weird tangents.
This podcasts focuses on deeper dives into specific categories within the Cthulhu Mythos and cosmic horror.
While not specific to Lovecraftian literature, the crew at NWH does excellent work exploring the ever expanding world of horror. (They also occasionally host a trivia night in Portland, OR. So if you’re ever in the area, check ’em out.)
Chris and Chad take on a new story each week and get into the nitty gritty details. They also have some excellent readings available on their site.
This serialized docu-drama follows Alex Reagan and Dr. Strand as they investigate a series of strange recordings, the titular Black Tapes.
Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women, and children disappeared from a small town in Tennessee, never to be heard from again. What happened to Limetown?
Cosmic Horror Novelists
This list could get long, so I will keep it to novelists of whom I have read and who’s books I’ve enjoyed. If there’s someone I missed (highly likely) or a writer that you’d like to recommend (also highly likely,) leave a comment! Links attached to the author’s name will go to their website or blog; book links will go to Amazon. (But you should buy from your local indie shop.) Also, don’t forget to leave a review!
This has been just a tiny sampling of the world of cosmic horror as it exists today. The genre hasn’t gone away. If anything, we see its influence grow more and more in all forms of popular culture. It has reached beyond books and into movies, table-top games, toys, comic books, television shows, and video games. The fundamental terror brought by the fear of the unknown and the creatures that lurk in spaces beyond is something that draws readers even today. So join me in wishing Cosmic Horror a lovely one-hundredth birthday! It’s been a great one hundred years, and here’s to a hundred more!
Did I miss something? Have a favorite writer, podcast, or small press house that I missed?Leave a comment and let us know!