Just recently I picked up a collection of works of H.P. Lovecraft, considered to be one of the founding fathers of dark fiction. I’ve heard from many horror fans that his work can be difficult to enjoy because his writing is dense and at times antiquated in its language and prose. However, I am very big fan of Poe, whom Lovecraft considered to be one of his inspirations, so I decided to take a chance.
I started my Lovecraftian education with The Call of Cthulhu, a short story written in 1926. The first paragraph clinched my fandom immediately. Not only were those few short sentences exciting and powerful, they contain the essence of what I hope to be able to accomplish with my own writing. With just a few short words, Lovecraft evokes the very core of dark fiction: punching holes in our calm reality by injecting us into a larger/unknown/unseen world or injecting that larger/unknown/unseen world into our’s. The potential in that design is limitless and terrifying.
I don’t always write horror, but when I do, my litmus test to its success will begin with these words:
“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. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”