You better watch out...
December 7, 2009 7:16 PM   Subscribe

Close all the drapes, board up the fireplace, watch what might be hiding in that tree, and whatever you do, don't go to sleep, because December belongs to Cthulhu.*

This December, is running a series of posts on H.P. Lovecraft and Cthulhu. Notable posts include the introduction to Lovecraft, which makes the argument that Lovecraft was one of the first true geeks, an incredible Lovecraftian art thread, in which the blog's readers were invited to share their Lovecraft inspired art, an essay about amateur press associations, and a post by speculative fiction writer Elizabeth Bear about why people still write Lovecraft pastiches (notably, she won a Hugo this year for a Lovecraft pastiche). And there's a lot of month still left.

*cf. The Last Christmas
posted by Caduceus (32 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
In his toy factory at the North Pole, dead Santa lies dreaming.
posted by hifiparasol at 7:23 PM on December 7, 2009 [24 favorites]

my favorite part of the Lovecraft/Cthulhu stories was how utterly predictable they all are. invariably, the narrator is the last person alive/sane after the events of the story about to be told, and at the end of the telling the narrator will join them in death/insanity seemingly simply through the act of telling the story to you, the dear reader.

great, great stuff.
posted by radiosilents at 7:27 PM on December 7, 2009

Evil Robot Santa from Futurama was a better evil Christmas mascot replacement than Christmas C'thulhu.

I dare anyone to come up with a more unusual sentence than that.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:27 PM on December 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

Also: My very own Cthulhu Christmas Cookie. He was delicious.
posted by hifiparasol at 7:30 PM on December 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Well played, hifiparasol.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:37 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I really should have noted that a couple of the images in the art thread could be considered NSFW.
posted by Caduceus at 8:16 PM on December 7, 2009

My only regret is that I didn't find these cards a month ago :(
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:49 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

No, no, Riki tiki, the evil robot Santa from Invader Zim was far superior to the evil robot Santa from Futurama. (There is only one way to settle this dispute: EVIL ROBOT SANTA THUNDERDOME.)
posted by hattifattener at 8:50 PM on December 7, 2009 [7 favorites]

I liked the Elizabeth Bear peice. Shoggoths in Bloom is a neat story deserving of it's award and I like the Lovecraft in Space settings she's created with Boojum and the follow up which appears in the Lovecraft Unbound anthology.

Other than that, Cthulhu monthon Tor has really not been doing it for me. It's very heavy on the Cutethulhu and any-old-random-crap-with-tentacles and the I-haven't-read-anything-by-lovecraft-but opinionating.

Probably I am just being a moany snob and should STFU. At least it's not still fucking steampunk month.
posted by Artw at 10:03 PM on December 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

And at least they aren't io9, who seem to be all about finding random reasons to slot pornstar Sasha Grey into every fifth post. Thanks random Gawker media columnist, but I really have no interest in who you rub one out to.
posted by Artw at 10:08 PM on December 7, 2009

That's why I’ve found it impossible to tackle the challenge of reinvigorating Weird Tales without also addressing the question: why has Lovecraft endured? Why hasn’t H.P.L. faded beneath Bradbury and King and Gaiman the way Lord Dunsany has faded beneath Tolkien and Moorcock and Rowling?

While I like the stories as much as anyone, there are plenty of forgotten geniuses in the world. To callously discount Lovecraft's skill as a writer for a moment, I think one big reason is his voluminous correspondence. Lovecraft had a vast number of literary friends, and they all contributed to his world. It is a lot harder to forget about a dozen writers than one of them. Ol' HPL was well-liked, despite his oft-discussed foibles. And there is also the legend of the man, the obscure writer unknown to all but a handful of rabid fans, writing incredibly weird stories for himself more than anyone, dying in poverty. Who wouldn't root for a guy such as that? (This may also explain some of the emerging popularity around Harry Stephen Keeler.)

And let's not forget the importance of August Derleth. He may not have been the best writer, but he knew how keep his friend's memory alive.

I also want to say how depressed I am from considering the idea that Lord Dunsany's literary heir is J. K. Rowling.
posted by JHarris at 1:44 AM on December 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

ArtW, just read Shoggoths In Bloom. What a wonderful story!
posted by JHarris at 2:19 AM on December 8, 2009

Gibbous moon tonight...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:31 AM on December 8, 2009

And at least they aren't io9, who seem to be all about finding random reasons to slot pornstar Sasha Grey into every fifth post.

Yeah, I'm sure the other day those that surf in from work appreciated one of their io9 headlines directly linking to a story on their sister, pr0n 'news', site Fleshbot with no warning whatsoever

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:35 AM on December 8, 2009

Mmm steampunk Cthulhu. That could be fun. *evil grin*
posted by keptwench at 7:07 AM on December 8, 2009

Sorry, but the best Christmas Horror story comes courtesy of Mr. Neil Gaiman, written for a 100-word story contest.

Nicholas Was…

Older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter.

He wanted to die.

The dwarfish natives of the Arctic caverns did not speak his language, but conversed in their own, twittering tongue; conducted incomprehensible rituals when they were not actually working in the factories.

Once every year they forced him, sobbing and protesting, into Endless Night. During the journey he would stand near every child in the world, leave one of the dwarves’ invisible gifts by its bedside. The children slept, frozen in time.

He envied Prometheus and Loki, Sisyphus and Judas. His punishment was harsher.

Ho. Ho. Ho.
posted by The Whelk at 8:20 AM on December 8, 2009 [11 favorites]

Thanks for the heads up. This is right up my alley.
posted by ServSci at 8:42 AM on December 8, 2009

Sorry, that last comment was true but contributed nothing. I think I have a different reply to Segal's:
Lovecraft’s stories are really, really spooky. Cthulhu is an unforgettable creature. The author had several protégés who kept pushing his legacy after he died. All that is true, and yet it seems to me that none of it is really enough to explain why this dead old New Englander still strikes people today as so darn relevant.
from the H.P. Lovecraft Archive this quote from the opening of The Call of Cthulhu:
"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 deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
I really don't think you need to go further than that to explain Lovecraft's relevance to certain people. Add to it his extremely useful essay on Supernatural Horror in Fiction (which I'm currently using as a reading list) and the guy's value to fans of a particular type of fiction seems pretty straight forward to me.
posted by ServSci at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

This seems to be a good place to point out the rather wonderful A Very Scary Solstice holiday albums. I wish they were free, but they are not. However, you can listen to a few samples.

Blue Solstice
It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Fish-Men
Great Old Ones Are Coming To Town
Carol Of The Old Ones
posted by hippybear at 9:11 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm pre-emptively renaming their 12 Days of Lovecraft to "12 days of Oh Noes The Racisms!".
posted by Artw at 10:59 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Man... they diss Shadow over Innsmouth. Fuck that shit.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on December 9, 2009

Yeah, I'm not a big fan of the 12 Days of Lovecraft guy. I don't know what his problem is or why they're having him do these.
posted by Caduceus at 8:09 PM on December 9, 2009

Oh dear lord, the horror continues. I’m missing the days when they had Jo Walton going through every Sci Fi classic in turn and explaining why it was sexist. Why do I keep reading exactly?
posted by Artw at 1:57 PM on December 10, 2009

Colour out of Space is "This story is just ill-conceived and poorly executed."? Fuck you Seamus Cooper.
posted by Artw at 2:34 PM on December 15, 2009

I'm kinda glad I've stopped reading those as I don't think it would be good for my blood pressure
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:43 AM on December 16, 2009

Colour out of Space is "This story is just ill-conceived and poorly executed."? Fuck you Seamus Cooper.
posted by Artw at 2:34 PM on December 15 [+] [!]


That story is great...
"The proportions of its body seemed slightly altered in a queer way impossible to describe, while its face had taken on an expression which no one ever saw in a woodchuck before."
... best... line... ever...
posted by ServSci at 4:48 PM on December 16, 2009

I really shouldn't prod at this more, but the guy has a Twitter account. He doesn't like The Colour out of Space, and he'll dismiss Beyond The Wall of Sleep in a single sentence, but he thinks fucking Underworld is a work of genius? And this is the guy they chose for this job? WTF?

He's also got a novel ("Mall of Cthulhu") which sounds like the worst kind of cynical cash-grab ever. Blech.
posted by Artw at 1:32 PM on December 17, 2009

I really shouldn't prod at this more, but the guy has a Twitter account.

"I know that many scholars consider him extra-canonical, but I like Scooby Dumb."

I think he's 'oh I'll take a contrariety opinion just to show off' type. Or insane. Or just a dick.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:40 AM on December 18, 2009

So for any of you who have stopped following Tor's updates but still like Cthulhu stuff, today they posted a new Laundry story by Mefi's own Charles Stross. It's pretty great.
posted by Caduceus at 4:28 PM on December 22, 2009

Yeah, I liked that one. Today they are running I, Cthulhu, a rather nice little short story by Neil Gaiman. Could have sworn it had a different title last time I saw it though.
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on December 28, 2009

Until I read another link elsewhere I didn't realise you could download the stross story as a podcast (there's a link top left on the page... or here).
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:53 PM on December 28, 2009

A really awesome Ken Hite interview. There's been a few other highlights, but too me this is the one that makes the whole thing worthwhile.
posted by Artw at 4:28 PM on January 1, 2010

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