Friday, January 01, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing A Day No.1: First Encounters with Lovecraft - The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

The start of a new year often brings with it a slew of good intentions. Despite the gradual sloughing-off of humanity presaged by our-almost daily interactions with monstrous cosmic realities, we at the Ghooric Zone retain a penchant for occasionally indulging the remnants of our human foibles - particularly during periods of hominid ritualised festivity. To this end, I have decided to instigate a year-long micro-blogging project: daily, I mean to present a short (a couple of sentences, or a paragraph at most) summary, review or reflection upon an element of my personal collection of Lovecraftiana.

Over the last year or so I have been trying to map/construct something akin to a genealogy of my engagement with weird fiction. Even though Lovecraft did not inaugurate my obsession with the weird, his vision has cast a ponderous shadow over my own life and attitudes - so much so that I have become rather obsessed with recalling the historic when-and-how of my initial encounters with the Old Gent. However, whilst providing a seemingly coherent and continuous narrative of (arguably illusory) personal identity, memory is a fragile thing - and I have never been much of a diarist. To this end I am faced with the onerous task of dredging up, in the face of the hideous obfuscations of time and age, long-buried reminiscences of the mid-to-late 1970s...

With regard to which (and also because we are dealing with beginnings), today's offering is both salient and unusual: in the latter case, because it is not an overtly Lovecraftian tome; in the former because it is (one) of the genealogical threads leading back to Lovecraft's early influence on my interest in weird fiction. Sadly, I've yet to recall exactly when or where I first heard of Lovecraft - although I'm almost certain that I stumbled across allusions to his work prior to reading today's showcased volume. I was certainly familar with Lovecraft prior to my involvement in roleplaying games (which is where, it seems, many Lovecraftians of my generation had their first brush with the Cthulhu mythos). In any case, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction - edited by Robert Holdstock and published by Cathay Books in the UK in 1978 - was where I first read anything close to an overview of who this Lovecraft fellow was, and what his Cthulhu mythos was all about. Importantly, the book also provided me with the titles of some of Lovecraft's key mythos tales. This in and of itself was paramount - by way of the highly evocative and suggestive nature of said titles - in stimulating a desire to read and find out more about HPL.

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