H.P. Lovecraft’s Weird Fiction
The American writer H.P. Lovecraft wrote weird fiction. His work is both weird, in the conventional sense of the word, and Weird, in a very specific sense. His tales are not typical horror stories, but instead invoke a type of cosmic terror, a slow realization that humanity is an insignificant afterthought in a vast universe of indescribably horrific creatures. Protagonists tend to write their stories on the verge of madness, or just before they commit suicide having witnessed some unspeakable horror. His writing is all about atmosphere, not plot.
Lovecraft’s writing has been enormously influential on the development of genre fiction – science fiction, fantasy, and particularly horror. His is a world, a mythos, in which cosmic entities such as Cthulhu are terrifyingly revealed.
Pop Culture Cthulhu
This all may seem incredibly niche, but Lovecraft has permeated popular culture in every form. Lovecraft’s work is referenced, supplemented, parodied, critiqued, documented, and dissected. Cthulhu, along with a pantheon of other cosmic creatures, is a source of fascination for huge numbers of people, especially online. It’s pretty safe to say the internet is a bit obsessed with HP Lovecraft.
And it is also all a bit, well, weird, if you haven’t really come across it before.
This episode explores the world of Lovecraft, Lovecraftian writing, and weird fiction. My guest is Dr Tim Jarvis, lecturer in creative writing at the University of Bedfordshire, and an author of weird fiction himself. The story takes us from early 20th century America to contemporary writers, such as Jeff Vandermeer and China Mieville, writing weird fiction today.
Dr Tim Jarvis is a lecturer in creative writing in the University of Bedfordshire. His academic profile can be found here
He is also an author, under the name Timothy J Jarvis, of weird fiction. His author website is here
The wonderfully atmospheric music this week was by Paddy Mulcahy. You can find lots more great music on his website
Tracks Heard on the Episode:
(From the album The Words She Said)
- On a Hill in Swinford
- Fire and Storm Song
- Luke’s Tree
- Rifo’s Dance
Works & Authors Mentioned
Timothy J Jarvis: The Wanderer
H.P. Lovecraft: Collected Fiction
Jeff Vandermeer: The Southern Reach Trilogy
Ann and Jeff Vandermeer (eds): The New Weird
Annihilation, dir. Alex Garland
China Mieville: The City and the City; The Bas Lag Trilogy
Camilla Grudova: The Doll’s Alphabet
Martin McInnes: Infinite Ground
Gary Budden: Hollow Shores
Joel Lane: Where Furnace’s Burn
If you’re looking for more horror, check out this episode on zombies
Or this episode on the ghost stories of MR James
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Have I missed any great weird fiction? Let me know in the comments below or check out the Words To That Effect Facebook Page
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