This year, 2013, marks my 65th year under heaven.It also marks the 50th Anniversary of my introduction to the works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. The first story of his that I read was “The Colour Out of Space”. The second one was “The Call of Cthulhu”. After that there was no turning back. I was hooked.
Looking back, I think it was a sense of dread wonder that drew me into his works. A beautiful strangeness that at once both enthralled and scared me. I remember the first time that I saw an ocean. I was 19 and stationed at Fort Ord, California on the Monterrey Peninsula. Having grown up in the midwest, I had never seen an ocean of any kind before and now I was gazing upon the vast Pacific…one of the first things that crossed my mind was ‘No wonder Great Cthulhu sleeps here.”
There is a large streak of genteel nihilism that runs through Lovecraft’s works. He was a mechanistic rationalist that believed that the universe is not hostile towards humanity but rather it just doesn’t care.
A years tour of duty in Vietnam reinforced that.
Over the years, I have read other authors who’ve come to play in HPL’s dark theatre. Authors such as August Dereleth who injected a note of conventional theology into the Mythos. I might add that while I’ve read some of Dereleth’s non-Mythos fiction and enjoyed it, I really do wish he had not tried to turn the Mythos in some sort of “War In Heaven.”
Other authors, however, did the Mythos proud. Caitlin R. Kiernan’s “Threshold” evoked for me that same sense of wonder. The same goes for Thomas Ligotti’s “Medusa”. There are many more.
And then there is the game…Call of Cthulhu…the first real Horror RPG that came on the market. It was first published in 1981. I bought a first edition and about every other edition afterwards. I’m now up to Sixth Edition and Hastur only knows how many other associated works.
One of those associated works is “Delta Green” by the good folks at Pagan Publishing. This is the best modern day evocation of the Cthulhu Mythos I have ever read. It takes every modern conspiracy and gives it new form. The associated is very good as well. It is a great combination of game and literature.
Five decades…wow…long time passing as it were…still…it seems like just yesterday…perhaps, given the nature of Yog-Sothoth and it’s effect on time…it was.