H P Lovecraft was one of the most influence writers of the 20th century. His work has influenced countless writers that came after him as well as movies, roleplay games, computer games, art and even readers since his death. Yet in his own time he was a little known pulp magazine writer, unsuccessfully trying to ply his trade.
Stories like The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness, Beyond the Walls of Sleep and others have stirred the imagination of millions. While others stories like The Tomb, The Rats in the Walls, Ibid and others are somewhat less well known. Lovecraft was also a troubled individual with even more troubling opinions and beliefs. A fact that taints his work and popular opinion of the man.
So when a few years ago I set about to write a blog about Lovecraft’s stories I wanted a guide to the complete works, filtered them through the eye of a modern reader. A guide that could point out the stories to avoid, the ones that need to be read, the little-known gems and the overblown twaddle. A guide that could perhaps supply the odd, interesting fact that I could borrow to sound knowledgeable. A guide to which stories had most influenced various bits of modern culture, artist, writers and musicians. A guide with a simple ranking system as a guide, say in quantities of tentacles, that would allow me to see at a glance which stories were worth reading and which I should avoid like a blood splattered copy of the Necronomicon.
Sadly, no such guide existed. There were plenty of academic texts on Lovecraft, but they all seemed to be trying there hardest to be ‘worthy’ or written by self-styled Lovecraftian scholars. Which is to say they all seemed either assured of their own cleverness or written by the same kind of devoted fanboy that would tell you despite all evidence and that song about the lawnmower, every Genesis album was a masterpiece…
So, I was stuck with three things, a blog in need of content, a folio edition of the complete works of H P Lovecraft and no guidebook to the dark twisted woodland path that is his works. Frankly at that point I had no choice, if I couldn’t find a readable guidebook, I’d just have to write one.
This then is that guidebook. Welcome to the Lexinomicon, a bluffers guide to the writings of H P Lovecraft.