Remembering The Science Fiction Author

Discussing H.P.Lovecraft’s role as horror author, some people tend to forget that much of his work may actually fall under the heading of science fiction. Fundamentally, At the Mountains of Madness, “The Colour Out Of Space,” and “From Beyond,” all focus on concepts of alien worlds and intelligences, and altered states of perception which ignite undesired awareness of the insignificance of man. Also, at its core, what is the Cthulhu Mythos, if not a science fiction framework? The gods are alien beings who travel the stars and sometimes are able to manipulate rifts in the time-space continuum.

Although Lovecraft would describe himself as an author of “weird” fiction, focusing on atmosphere rather than plot or character development, what has kept the author relevant are his ideas, not necessarily his ability to invoke a mood. As science fiction, “The Call of Cthulhu” echoes today’s concerns about the amazing amount of information at our disposal and our concern that the application of such information might lead to our destruction.

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” Lovecraft’s cautionary words would become an often repeated morale in Hollywood, spoken on the silver screen when science went awry and became a destructive force: “There are some things which science would be better off leaving alone.”
Although draping himself in the mantle of horror writer, as a child, H.P. Lovecraft grew up with an enthusiasm for science, and especially astronomy. An atheist, he sought a rational way to explain the universe and justify human existence. As a science fiction writer, his work was horrifying, not only because he painted dark and eerie images, but because he addressed the fear of the believer and the non-believer alike—that in the end the illusory greatness of humanity would be pointless and forgotten.

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