(Subverting) H.P. Lovecraft

By Andrew Hazard

"For H.P. Lovecraft, with all my conflicted feelings." Let us recognize the creators who are dealing with the inescapable toxicity of one of the most influential horror/science fiction/fantasy authors of the past century by invading his sandbox and making his toys their own!

  • Lovecraft Country

    2016 by Ruff, Matt

    For the members of the Turner and Dandridge families, Lovecraft Country encompasses all of 1950's America (including Chicago, where several chapters are set). It is a place of malevolent ghosts and cruelty meted out by racist cops and dark magicians--who may be the same thing. The novel is also a love letter to the people who recognized the possibilities of imaginative fiction even as genre gatekeepers (old Howard Phillips very much included) told them they weren't welcome. We also have Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams' excellent Lovecraft Country limited series on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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  • Winter Tide

    2017 by Emrys, Ruthanna

    One of the few survivors of the U.S. government's internment of the "Deep Ones" of Innsmouth, Aphra Marsh isn't thrilled that her brother and the FBI both want her to investigate strange goings-on at Miskatonic University. Emrys extends their empathetic imagination to Lovecraft's "monstrous" races in ways that he never could, making them seem, well, human. Deep Roots is the second in the series.

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  • The Ballad of Black Tom

    2016 by LaValle, Victor D.

    The Horror at Red Hook is hysterically racist, even by Lovecraft standards--which is saying something. LaValle's unrelentingly bleak novella reimagines it as the story of Charles Thomas Tester, a young musician whose grief and rage give him a reason for letting the Great Old Ones back into the human world, which the wealthy (and white) magus who recruits him can't fathom. "I'll take Cthulhu over you devils any day."

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  • The City We Became

    2020 by Jemisin, N. K.

    This extraordinarily fun magical realist adventure makes rude gestures at Lovecraft and his hatred of urban diversity (New York City's in particular) at every turn. With one thematically important exception, the people who discover that they are avatars of the city--which is about to "become"--are all from groups he regarded as subhuman. Jemisin also takes well-aimed shots at contemporary fans who like Lovecraft for the wrong reasons, a topic she probably knows a good deal about as an African American woman writing fantasy. Follow with The World We Made (coming in November)

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  • Mexican Gothic

    2020 by Moreno-Garcia, Silvia

    "What are your thoughts on the intermingling of superior and inferior types?" Lovecraft is just one strand in the centuries worth of Gothic literature that influence Moreno-Garcia's masterpiece, but it's a BIG strand--the evil patriarch is named "Howard" for a reason. The Doyle clan's obsession with the "purity" of their bloodline and avoiding the "pollution" of all but the most aristocratic Mexicans is chilling even before the reader discovers what they actually mean by it. And then the body horror starts.

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  • Ring Shout, or, Hunting Ku Kluxes in the End Times

    2020 by Clark, P. Djèlí

    Clark performs an ingenious bit of script-flipping here. American history's most powerful terrorist organization becomes one of those secret societies that in Lovecraft's fiction is always trying to raise unnamable eldritch horrors; racist propaganda like The Clansman and Birth of a Nation have "madness"-inducing occult power; and Stone Mountain is the scene of unspeakable rites, none of which deviates far from reality, if you think about it.

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  • Our Wives under the Sea

    2022 by Armfield, Julia

    Miri spent months waiting for confirmation that her wife Leah, a marine biologist stranded on the ocean floor during a classified survey, is alive. But the woman who returns to her feels distant, and not just emotionally. Lovecraft's pan-xenophobia was, of course, inseparable from a fear of transformation into the Other. But what would it be like to love someone undergoing such a metamorphosis? And does the sea still hold mysteries past all human understanding?

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  • The Night Ocean

    2017 by LaFarge, Paul

    While Lovecraft was not a hard man to horrify, The Night Ocean would probably curdle his blood more than anything else on this list. LaFarge's labyrinthine metafiction deals with a manuscript that purports to chronicle the author's secret gay life, the tragic true story of Lovecraft disciple/literary executor Robert Barlow, and several generations of genre obsessives. While Lovecraft Country celebrates the liberating potential of fandom, The Night Ocean insinuates that its worst aspects were already visible in the petty rivalries and queerbaiting of the early days.

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  • Planetary

    2010 by Ellis, Warren

    Elijah Snow, long-lived antihero of the Planetary graphic novel series, got his first glimpse of realities beyond this one during a visit to an "author acquaintance" in 1931 Rhode Island. Is it a caricature? Maybe. But in just a handful of panels, Warren Ellis absolutely nails Lovecraft, the imagination that could look into the "luminous, squamous, infinite" universe...and see nothing that challenged the smallness of his prissy, bigoted worldview.

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