Xlibris Publishing presents The Stars are Right: Writing Cosmic Horror some advice for authors with an interest writing in the cosmic horror genre.
The author Howard Philips Lovecraft, or H.P. Lovecraft, is widely remembered for two things. One, he was the founder and primary author of what is called the Cthulhu Mythos, a body of novels, short stories, and novellas about monstrous entities called the Great Old Ones, who once ruled the earth treat humans as playthings or annoyances. Two, he is the patron father of an entire sub-genre of horror fiction. This genre, called Cosmic Horror, is a subset of horror fiction often but not necessarily bearing elements of fantasy and science-fiction.
H.P. Lovecraft wrote during first quarter of the 1900s and while not the first author to incorporate the mainstay themes and concepts of the genre named for him, H.P. Lovecraft is credited with having popularized the genre into the current day alongside and through his Mythos. While cosmic horror bears some of the usual elements important to horror, cosmic horror contains elements that set it apart from the rest of the horror genre.
The Insignificance of Humanity
A recurring context within cosmic horror is the insignificance and unimportance of humanity or individual people in the larger universe. Cosmic horror works on the idea that even in the face of natural forces and natural history, humanity is but a minor and recent development. Then there are the unnatural and supernatural elements, and next to such forces and beings the sum of the human race is as important as an insect.
Cosmic horror can work with both mundane and supernatural elements. Protagonists can find their efforts futile against the greater power of a criminal-political conspiracy or an alien power from the void between stars. What matters is that the protagonists and the reader realize their actions and intentions do not matter in the greater and darker world you craft.
Madness out of Truth
Another important tenet of cosmic horror is the idea that the truth itself can be a source of dread and insanity. Often in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, protagonists go mad the more they learn the secret truths of the universe, of the terrible beings inhabiting their world, and the horrific acts done in said beings’ names. It is not uncommon for protagonists or characters the protagonists have encountered, to become insane after learning the truths of their world.
Xlibris Publishing will return with Part 2 of The Stars are Right: Writing Cosmic Horror.
Xlibris Publishing trusts this helps
Please make sure to check out the Xlibris Publishing site for more advice and blogs, and be sure to follow us on Xlibris Publishing Facebook and Xlibris Publishing Twitter. Get your free publishing guide here.
By Ian Smith