Tag Archives: lovecraft

100 Years of Cosmic Horror

It’s Cosmic Horror’s 100th Birthday

In November of 1916, Howard Phillips Lovecraft published his first short story, The Alchemist, in the United Amateur Press Association. While his commercial work would come later, there is an argument to be made that November should be considered the birth month of cosmic horror as a genre.

Lovecraft wasn’t the first to write weird fiction; even Lovecraft had his influences. Writers like Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, Robert Chambers, and Edgar Allen Poe were all writing of the strange and macabre before ol’ Howie. Most cosmic horror fans will acknowledge their impact, but I think we’d all agree that it was Lovecraft’s writing that became the definitive work of the genre. Lovecraft’s mythos has gone on to influence a myriad of people; it was his stories that encouraged others to delve into writing and working within the genre. His writing helped forge the genre into the beast it is today.

In celebration, I figured it’d be fun to explore the current universe of cosmic horror and look at some of my primary sources for Lovecraftian fiction on the market today. This will be just a tiny sample of the ever expanding universe of weird fiction. If you have recommendations of your own, leave a comment!

The Bell Forging CycleThe Bell Forging Cycle

Why not start with my books? (Buy ’em here.) Don your keff, lace up your boots, and enter my dystopian genre-bending vision of the Territories. A world where humanity is no longer alone and strange creatures inhabit vast multi-leveled megalopolises built upon the backs of drowned cities. A place of violence, where killers stalk narrow streets, and shadowy cults work ancient rituals to awaken forgotten elder gods. Standing in their way is one soul, a road-weary caravan master armed with an antique revolver, a droll wit, and a hardened resolve. Read an excerpt at any of the links below.

The Stars Were Right • Old Broken Road • Red Litten World

Cosmic Horror Small PressCosmic Horror Small Presses

Weird fiction is still alive and well, recently Penguin re-released a limited edition paperback, and a quick search for “Lovecraft” will usher forth all sorts of collections. However, some of the most exciting work in cosmic horror can be found among the small presses.

  • Word Horde

    Publisher of original novels, substantial collections, and some great anthologies, Word Horde, is one of my favorite small presses. The quality of their end product is great, Ross Lockhart and the team there does an excellent job in seeking out new talent and releasing it into the world.

  • Lovecraft eZine Press

    Born from one of the titans of the weird fiction community, the Lovecraft eZine, this cosmic horror press publishes modern mythos and releases some solid anthologies.  Very much worth checking out.

  • Dark Regions Press

    Specializing in horror and dark fiction since 1985, this indie publishing house serves up all manners of terrors from some fairly big names. If you want something collectible, make sure to check out their special hardcover editions.

  • Hippocampus Press

    This small press focuses on collected works from cosmic horrors greats, men like Ramsey Campbell, Lovecraft himself and Clark Ashton Smith. They also delve into nonfiction as well, featuring work from scholars like S. T. Joshi.

Cosmic Horror PodcastsCosmic Horror Podcasts

Some of my favorite podcasts focusing on Lovecraft and cosmic horror.

  • Miskatonic Musings

    While Lovecraftian fiction is often at the center of discussion, this podcast covers a wide variety of horror in general as well as other strange and often weird tangents.

  • People’s Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos

    This podcasts focuses on deeper dives into specific categories within the Cthulhu Mythos and cosmic horror.

  • Northwest Horror

    While not specific to Lovecraftian literature, the crew at NWH does excellent work exploring the ever expanding world of horror. (They also occasionally host a trivia night in Portland, OR. So if you’re ever in the area, check ’em out.)

  • The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast

    Chris and Chad take on a new story each week and get into the nitty gritty details. They also have some excellent readings available on their site.

  • The Black Tapes

    This serialized docu-drama follows Alex Reagan and Dr. Strand as they investigate a series of strange recordings, the titular Black Tapes.

  • Limetown

    Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women, and children disappeared from a small town in Tennessee, never to be heard from again. What happened to Limetown?

Other Cosmic Horror NovelistsCosmic Horror Novelists

This list could get long, so I will keep it to novelists of whom I have read and who’s books I’ve enjoyed. If there’s someone I missed (highly likely) or a writer that you’d like to recommend (also highly likely,) leave a comment! Links attached to the author’s name will go to their website or blog; book links will go to Amazon. (But you should buy from your local indie shop.) Also, don’t forget to leave a review!


This has been just a tiny sampling of the world of cosmic horror as it exists today. The genre hasn’t gone away. If anything, we see its influence grow more and more in all forms of popular culture. It has reached beyond books and into movies, table-top games, toys, comic books, television shows, and video games. The fundamental terror brought by the fear of the unknown and the creatures that lurk in spaces beyond is something that draws readers even today. So join me in wishing Cosmic Horror a lovely one-hundredth birthday! It’s been a great one hundred years, and here’s to a hundred more!

Cheers!


Did I miss something? Have a favorite writer, podcast, or small press house that I missed?Leave a comment and let us know!

#My5: The Bell Forging Cycle

Welcome to #My5, a project that I’ve started, with a few of my fellow authors, across the internet. In this and other posts, we’re going to delve into five things that had influenced our current projects: it could be five people, five books, five songs, five comics or a mixture of some or all—you never know. Why five? It’s an arbitrary limitation, but it’s digestible and prevents these posts from running away from us. If you’re an author and you’re interested in joining us, you can read the introduction post or check out the info at the bottom of this post. So, without further ado, here’s #My 5: The Bell Forging Cycle.


Inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere, and it’s different for each writer. For me, there are key instances that trigger something in my mind that inspired me to create the world of the Territories.

I tend to pitch The Bell Forging Cycle as “Lovecraftian Urban Fantasy,” which is a relatively narrow descriptive. In my article for Fantasy Book Critic, I described the series as a “dark cyberpunk post-post-apocalyptic dystopian weird western cosmic horror urban fantasy adventure,” which, yeah, was a mouthful. Instead of explaining how all that works, I figured it’d be fun to use #My5 in a way that lets me share how all of those pieces come together.


Five Influences, #1 - The Lovecraft Mythos1. The Lovecraft Mythos

This is the obvious one, but it’s important enough that I need to mention it first. I didn’t start reading H.P. Lovecraft until I was in my early twenties and attending college. While Cthulhu, Azathoth, Yog-Sothoth were on my mind, it wasn’t until a conversation in 2007 with my friend, Josh Montreuil, that I had the idea of mixing the mythos with a story like the one I wanted to write.

Longtime readers of the Lovecraftian mythos can see the signs in the world. The books are set in a world rebuilt after Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones returned, caused an apocalypse, and once again faded into myth. Their influence has a fundamental impact on the world. Landmasses have been reshaped, and humanity is no longer alone; exotic species lifted from the mythos now inhabit the world alongside us. Dark cults from stories like The Call of Cthulhu, The Haunter of the Dark, and The Shadow Over Innsmouth have risen to become large organized religions. While a knowledge of the mythos isn’t necessary to enjoy the books, there’s no denying that Lovecraft’s influence is scattered through everything.


Kowloon Walled City2. Kowloon Walled City

It’s probably no secret that I’m a cyberpunk fan. Books like William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Neil Stephenson’s Snowcrash, and movies like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner are seminal works in my life. Cities of cement and chrome, coupled with the compression of humanity, were a draw for me. In each of those worlds were millions of stories. So, when I discovered a real world example of those strange, stacked cyberpunk cities, I was fascinated.

Kowloon was a densely populated neighborhood that existed in Hong Kong during the middle of the 20th-century. Thirty-three thousand people lived within 6.4 acres of space stacked atop each other up to a height of 140 ft. The result of this mass was an isolated, multileveled community, filled with all manner of individuals, organizations, businesses, schools, and unique cultures. (Check out this fascinating cross section map or this detailed illustration to see how dense it was.) Kowloon’s existence became the spark that eventually became Lovat. It was the real-life example that triggered my concept of the vast megalopolis by the sea.


Five Influences, #3 - The Dark Tower3. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower

Stephen King’s opus is an early forerunner of genre mixing; an intense blend of western tropes, fantasy locations, and science-fiction problems, mixed with a post-apocalyptic road story starring gunslingers. I started reading the series in high school and quickly devoured what I could until it finally ended in 2004. Up until The Dark Tower series, most of the sci-fi and fantasy I read was fairly conventional.

Seeing this strange new world presented in such a way opened my eyes to what fiction could become. I can still picture walking with the Ka-Tet of Nineteen throughout Mid and Endworld. There is so much to love. The Lobstrosities, Shardik, Blaine the Mono, the city of Lud, the plains of Mejis, the Wolves of Thunderclap, and Devar-Toi are all vivid in my mind, and I continually find myself revisiting the series to this day.

And, if you’re wondering, I absolutely remember the face of my father.


Five Influences, #4 - Bas-Lag

4. China Miéville’s Bas-Lag

I love worldbuilding; I love seeding the potential of new locations and stories throughout prose. If it was King who showed me my first glimpses of weird fiction, China Miéville refined it. Perdido Street Station constructed a world that proved to me that fantasy didn’t have to be elves and dwarves, hobbits and men, orcs and dragons.

His Bas-Lag series—my favorite of which is The Scar—takes those ideas to a whole new level. Strange species crawl through Mieville’s books: bug-headed women, vampires, half-machine hybrids, sentient cacti, tiny gargoyles, disembodied hand-shaped parasites, scabmettlers—the human-like creatures who’s blood congeals to the point that it can become a sort of armor—and that’s just the start. That same approach is applied to everything from governmental structure to economics. Each book opens up new lands and strange new species, and throughout it all, Mieville does it right. He mixes and blends and creates a profound concoction that still stick with me.


Five Influences, #5 - Hellblazer5. HellBlazer (In particular M. R. Carey’s run)

One of the granddaddies of urban fantasy, the Vertigo comic series, follows the magician for hire, John Constantine as he drinks and smokes his way through England, America, Hell, and all parts in between. There is something about his wisecracking ways and indifferent attitude that I love. Constantine is relatable; he isn’t some all-powerful superhero; he isn’t some wealthy playboy; he is a working class stiff who is more clever than good and more determined than heroic.

Constantine is relatable. He is Walter White, a man doing bad things for good reasons. While Waldo Bell isn’t Constantine, there is a similarity between the characters. Both are dogged and driven men who would stop at nothing and go to any lengths to defeat what they see as evil. Heroes don’t always need to be golden paragons of humanity. They can and should be flawed.


So those are #My5, my collection of properties that influenced The Bell Forging Cycle. Each has had a profound impact on me creatively. You can check out my series at bellforgingcycle.com or hit up any of the specific books at the links below to read excerpts and learn more about the world of the Territories.

The Stars Were Right – Old Broken Road – Red Litten World

I’m not alone in collecting #My5! Other authors have joined me and written their #My5. You can find their articles by following the links below. Make sure to look for links at the bottom of their posts as well.


Are you a published (indie or traditional) author who is interested in joining in the #My5 fun? Write your article following the format above (remember, the limit is five), link to your work and others’ posts, and shoot me an email at hello at kmalexander.com, and I’ll add you to the list above and the official #My5 page! You can download the #My5 logo at any of the links below.

Download the #My5 Logo600×600 PNGs: White | Black
1200×1200 PNGs: White | Black
(Vector version available upon request.)

Gift The Bell Forging Cycle this Christmas!

This Christmas, Send ’em to the Territories

We’re now past the date where I can ship signed copies and guarantee their delivery by Christmas. (Well, for a reasonable price.) However, that doesn’t mean you still can’t gift my books to your friends or family. Now is the perfect time to send them to the strange and mysterious world of the Territories. I mean, who doesn’t love action, adventure, murder, cults, and weird monsters? Particularly during the holidays! Plus, most booksellers ship quickly and usually for free. Any of the following links will take you right to listings of my books:

If you’re like me and want to support your local book shop (which you should) just ask and see if they have my books in stock. If they don’t they can usually order them in for you in a few days. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

And… while they’re not as much fun to gift, you can always give digital copies. I have DRM-free eBooks available through my store. Plus you can buy ebook versions from any of the major platforms: Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and Google Play. (The current trilogy is available for under $15 for all three books.)

Finally, make sure you check out my Lovecraft-inspired gift guide for other Lovecraftian gift ideas, it’s full of books, games, music, and lots more fun stuff.

William T. Riker shares your sadness about the lack of a new Friday Link Pack tomorrow.

There Will Be No Friday Link Pack Tomorrow

Wanted to make a quick post letting you know that there won’t be a Friday Link Pack tomorrow. [Sad trombone.] I’m the best man at a friend’s wedding and will be away from the internet. I do have a great quote queued for tomorrow, but no time to gather the links for a proper Pack. If you’re looking for some links for your Friday, why not check out some of these previous Link Packs:


  • Friday Link Pack 09/19/2014
    Some great links here. Confronting Lovecraft’s racism, working with beta readers, old maps online, the work of Sergey Kolesov, every tree in the United States, and famous paintings of Jacob wrestling with the angel, ranked by how much their actions resemble slow-dancing.
    Featured Lovecraft Story: The Mound

  • Friday Link Pack 01/17/14
    Kids reading digitally, twenty-two reasons why commas are so important, the onion reviews the Desolation of Smaug, Austin Parkhill paints “Ringle”, the Seattle Archipelago, the evolution of the scuba mask.
    Featured Lovecraft Story: The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast

Friday Link Pack 02/27/2015

It’s Friday! That means it’s time to share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Away we gooooo…

Writing:

Publishers Bypass Literary Agents To Discover Bestseller Talent
With the market currently in flux this isn’t really all that surprising. Just make sure to get a good contract lawyer.

10 Famous Writers’ Houses Worth Visiting
Planning a trip? Mental Floss assembles a top ten list of former abodes of classic authors, from Hemingway’s, to Dickenson’s, to Twain’s. Is it just me or did all these folks have huge houses?

Best-Sellers Initially Rejected
Rejection is apart of every writer’s life, and I mean every writer. Check out this list of enormous hits that were rejected by publishers.

Upcoming Appearances
This week I launched a new section on the site. Interested in meeting me? Want to pick up a signed copy from me directly? Under the “Appearances” tab you’ll find a handy list of the future conventions, readings, and appearances that I’ll be making.

Art:

Mir
This Norwegian firm specializes in the portrayal of “unbuilt architecture” through a technique they call “natural visualisation.” Simply stunning.

Random:

Five Things I Didn’t Get About Making Video Games (Until I Did It)
Before he got into the industry, Anthony Burch was a reviewer of video games. In this article he explains the separation that exists between reviews and actually development. While this piece focuses on games, this article could be written for any creative endeavor. As consumers it’s easy to forget how much time, blood, sweat, and tears go into something creative from games to art to books to music. It’s hard work, even if you hate it.

Why I’m Volunteering to Die on Mars
Fascinating piece from Sonia Van Meter, one of the Mars One 100, about leaving earth and going to live on Mars… permanently.

Yoga Fhtagn
So you’re a newly minted health goth looking for a fresh Lovecraftian take on yoga? Well, look no further, YouTuber Laurie Penny has you covered.

Earth’s Other ‘Moon’ And Its Crazy Orbit
Did you know Earth had another smaller (and drunker) moon? Well it does!

Random Wikipedia Article of the Week:

Wherein I got to Wikipedia and hit Random Article until I find something good/weird/offensive/hilarious/interesting/etc. This weeks entry:

Aerocar
Aerocar International’s Aerocar (often called the Taylor Aerocar) was an American roadable aircraft, designed and built by Moulton Taylor in Longview, Washington, in 1949. Although six examples were built, the Aerocar never entered production.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Disinterment
Things aren’t always what they seem…

Gif of the Week:

Me, everyday.

Seattle Geekly!

I’m On Seattle Geekly

Last week I was invited by Shannon and Matt over to the Geekly Studios to be on my favorite podcast: Seattle Geekly! The day has arrived, the podcast is up, and you can listen now! Download the episode from iTunes, listen to it on Seattle Geekly’s websitelisten over on Stitcher, or just hit play below:

Seattle Geekly for Thursday, February 19, 2015

I’m honored to be one of the final guests for a great podcast. I had a lot of fun and I hope everyone enjoys it. Huge thank you to Shannon and Matt for having me on. It was nice to relax and geek out for a while. (Also, Matt, I’m still very interested in joining you for that session of Call of Cthulhu.)

Seattle Geekly is giving away a few signed copies of Old Broken Road along with the launch of today’s episode. To win all you need to do is tweet with the hashtag #KMAbook before 3PM tomorrow (02/20/15). There’s still plenty of chances to win. Good luck!