Why hello! I bet you thought I was dead. Well, I’m not.
Various things have happened since I last posted, but today I’m going to talk about my latest literary adventures.
I’ve been watching Alias lately, and that has gotten me interested in fantasy related to conspiracies and secret histories of the world, and that has led me, among other things, to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. It’s something I’ve been wanting to get a handle on for a while. So last week I went to the library, made a quick reading list, and got started.
I tried reading some Lovecraft a while back—”Under the Pyramids” and maybe one or two others—but it didn’t really grab me. I heard “horror” and was hoping for maybe Stephen King, but horror seems to have meant something different back then, something closer to Edgar Allen Poe. I could see he had a certain appeal, but I was disappointed.
Well, I must have read the wrong stories, because what I’m reading now is great! I can see why so many people have written stories set in his universe. He’s detailed enough to give you a lot to work with and vague enough to leave a lot to the imagination, and his language and settings are evocative enough to keep you motivated.
My goal was to read all the main Cthulhu stories written by Lovecraft himself, in chronological order of writing. Phillip Schreffler wrote a short book called The H. P. Lovecraft Companion that has a chart of Lovecraft’s major gods (see here) and a glossary of a lot of his characters, with references. So I looked up the gods from the chart in the glossary, collected the references, and put them in chronological order according to this Wikipedia article. Here’s the list:
- Dagon (1917)
- Nyarlathotep (1920)
- The Rats in the Walls (1923)
- The Call of Cthulhu (1926)
- The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926)
- The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927)
- The Dunwich Horror (1928)
- The Whisperer in Darkness (1930)
- At the Mountains of Madness (1931)
- The Shadow over Innsmouth (1931)
- Through the Gates of the Silver Key (1932)
- The Dreams in the Witch House (1932)
- The Thing on the Doorstep (1933)
- The Shadow Out of Time (1934)
- The Haunter of the Dark (1935)
I’m already noticing some problems with this list and making edits, so it will probably change a lot by the time I’m done, but if this subject interests you and you want a simple place to start, try that. You can read these online at dagonbytes.com. If you want some maps, try here. Here are a couple of other, longer reading lists. And here’s some sinister music for you to listen to while reading.
Right now I’m in the middle of “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” which is just what it sounds like—a quest in a dream world for a city called Kadath. I was surprised and pleased by this, because I wasn’t expecting such a traditional type of plot, and not all of it is creepy. In fact, a lot of it is kind of nice. The Myst and Riven soundtracks work well for this one.