– H.P. Lovecraft
When Nathan Shumate, the publisher of Space Eldritch, approached me about writing a foreword for this anthology, he told me to think of it as Lovecraftian Space Opera.
That certainly painted an odd picture…
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how well the idea of Lovecraft’s mythos mixed with science fiction clicks. It’s appropriate. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate, or maybe peanut butter and a dark sinister concoction of wailing madness with a hint of cocoa. Whatever, but it fits.
Lovecraft’s works were all about looking outward, dwelling on horrors that lived beyond space and time, out way past that point where human understanding called it a day. Science fiction was all about looking outward as well, to the stars and beyond. Both of which can make mankind seem remarkably fragile and insignificant. Floating in infinite blackness and encountering a gigantic unblinking hungry eyeball, it doesn’t matter if you are a space marine in power armor or a college professor on a very bad field trip, that makes for some good reading.
Several of my own books have borrowed elements from Lovecraft’s mythos. There is just something awe-inspiring about antagonists so big, so alien, and so mind-bending that the most common way to respond to them is to descend into gibbering madness. Nearly everybody has an ingrained irrational fear of things with tentacles, chitin, or too many mouths... for good reason. Slimy, nasty tentacle monsters are gross and terrifying. Now put them on steroids, make them the size of blimps, arm them with science so advanced it might as well be magic, and then give them the alien equivalent to PhDs in theoretical physics and mammal dismembering, and you are talking about some scary-ass villains. Only I hesitate to use the word “villain,” because most of the time humans are too insignificant to attract enough attention to deserve a proper squishing, but when we do, watch out.
I discovered Lovecraft when I was a kid. It scared the living hell out of me. I read every horror novel I could, and nothing moved me like Lovecraft. Even if the story was basically a couple of well-spoken New Englanders doing nothing but sitting around in the dark telling each other stories, nobody conveyed menace and isolation like Lovecraft. Nobody.