For some odd reason, every summer I find myself caught up in a craving for Lovecraft's scary stories. One would think this would be more reasonable over the fall months or on Halloween. Strange as it is that the sun and the water draw me to tales of Eldritch horror and forgotten forbidden lore, I do enjoy sitting up late at night and reading his terrifying works. Last summer that was how I was able to, in a single sitting, pound out my Lovecraftian horror short The Disappearance of Wilson and I intend to make a stab at another story like that. However, I'm just going to reminisce on some of the stories I have particularly enjoyed and managed to have keep me up over the summer.
This was in fact, the first Lovecraft story which ever gave me a nightmare. The story revolves around a reclusive and unusual artist (Robert Pickman) who creates macabre imagery of half-man half-dog creatures who rummage through the underworld. The storyteller relates the news of getting Pickman to tell him how he came up with such terrible ideas and learning an awful truth regarding the author's influence.
I read this one on a cottage trip, and it was part of my inspiration for my own short story. Imagining the wild north of Ontario and what it may hide was a great creepy dream and the waking nightmare of Pickman's creatures lurking on the steps to drag me off to the unknown inspired me to hammer this gem out.
The Call of Cthulu
If you have not heard of this story you clearly don't know your Lovecraft. Written in the summer of 1926 it was published in February 1928 in the Weird Tales magazine. It is a story revolving around the discovery and perusal of a deceased academics papers relating to a mysterious and gruesome statue and idol confiscated during a police raid in Louisiana. From there it branches out into a sinister tale of an almost apocalypse (in every sense of the word) as the confluence of unlikely events leads a horrible revelation that would drive any man to despair.
This is perhaps, Lovecraft's most well known work, with Cthulu being the creature most associated with Lovecraftian fiction. His cephalopod visage has graced the covers of many books and drawings, and even the nightmares of some! I personally have a picture of him hanging over my bed to ward off nightmares. The story is dark and exciting, with elements of mystery and penny dreadful thrillers, making it entertaining reading from any angle!
The Whisperer in the Darkness
This particular story was one much discussed by a coworker and I years ago. Involving shambling horrors from beyond the stars, it was one which made much hay over the discovery of Pluto back in the day. A researcher at Miskatonic University is contacted by a reclusive professor who, in response to reports of eerie creatures seen floating in the rivers following a period of intense flooding. The professor passes on undeniable truth regarding other worldly origins of these strange creatures, and over time, begins to feel the strain as they besiege his home.
Told largely through a series of correspondence and personal memoirs, it ratchets up the tension over time as the revelations unfold and the academics step steadily closer to madness from the revelations of what they have discovered. Truly a great short read.
The Beast of the Bosporus
This Lovecraftian tale, not written by Lovecraft, but in a delightfully similar vein, takes us out of Lovecrat's usual setting of rural New England, to the world of the 16th Century Ottoman Empire. Having lost the Battle of Lepanto, the Sublime Porte is looking for a way to strike back at the Spanish who have 'singed their beard.' In it we see palace intrigue, terrifying encounters, and a truly epic conclusion regarding powers that should not be tampered with.
Seeing it all done in a place where you don't really expect Lovecraftian horror makes it so much more interesting.
I have talked about it before, and you can find it in Digital Fantasy Fiction Anthology: Uncommon Senses.
Now these are just a small sampling of Lovecraft's works you can find, and one that is a very delightful example of switching up the location of these eldritch horrors! If people are looking for some timeless reads they should definitely check out the works of Lovecraft and his modern successors.