Even those readers who are only casually versed on horror fiction know the name of H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft, who was born in 1890 in the town of Providence, Rhode Island, is seen as one of the most influential authors of the twentieth century, largely attributed (posthumously) to his works that are part of the Cthulhu Mythos. The Cthulhu Mythos is a shared universe of horror stories involving "The Great Old Ones", a group of deities from space who once ruled the Earth before they fell into a trancelike sleep. So-called Lovecraftian fiction deals directly with these "cosmic horrors", a central figure of which is the tentacled deity named Cthulhu.

The influence of H.P. Lovecraft, despite his personal failings, is still in effect today. Check out these recent reads of Lovecraftian fiction…

 

I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas

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This chilling tale takes place at an annual Lovecraft convention called the Summer Tentacular which takes place in Lovecraft's hometown of Providence. That's where fans, scholars, and writers alike share their common love of cosmic horror fiction. Horror writer Colleen Danzig is new to the convention scene, but she's pretty sure that a certain group of freaks – those who believe that the Elder Gods are real, including book collectors on the hunt for volumes bound in human skin – are not the norm. Then, Colleen's roommate, an unbearable novelist named Panossian, ends up murdered and his face is neatly removed. Except for a few local policemen, the event goes largely unnoticed. That's when Colleen decides to take matters into her own hands and learns that maybe the freaks' idea of real, live Elder Gods is not so far-fetched.

 

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij JohnsonSF_VillettBoe

In this haunting novella, Kij Johnson takes readers on a journey across a dream landscape reminiscent of Lovecraft's weird and wonderful writing. The protagonist, Professor Vellitt Boe, who teaches at the prestigious Ulthar Women’s College, learns that one of her most gifted students elopes with a dreamer from the waking world. Because this student may be the only one who can save the community, Vellitt must retrieve her – a quest that introduces her to fantasy landscapes and creatures that should exist only in nightmares.  Johnson's enthralling tale is both a commentary of Lovecraftian fiction as well as an example of it.

 

Lovecraft Alive! by John Shirley

John Shirley wears many hats.  He's an award-winning author, a screenwriter, a television writer, and a songwriter. He also writes Lovecraftian fiction. In his new collection, Lovecraft Alive!, Shirley pays homage to one of his writing influences, H.P. Lovecraft, as he takes readers into realms both unsettling and imaginative.  Stories include those in which Lovecraftian entities emerge in a historical setting; stories merging ancient, cosmic horrors with modern technology; and tales in which H.P. Lovecraft himself is a character.

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The Private Life of Elder Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Keris McDonald, and Adam Gauntlett

Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos was born in the pages of pulp short stories. It should come as no surprise, then, that much of today's Lovecraftian fiction exists in the form of short fiction as well. The Private Life of Elder Things is a collections of short fiction stories by three authors: Adrian Tchaikovsky, Keris McDonald and Adam Gauntlett. The stories in this anthology focus on the place where our world meets the world of ancient aliens – a place that is closer to you than you think.

 

Swords v. Cthulhu edited by Jesse Bullington and Molly Tanzer

Are you interested in Lovecraftian fiction and also stories that include swordfights? Well, co-editors Jesse Bullington and Molly Tanzer have just the thing to suit your taste!  Their new anthology, Swords v. Cthulhu, crosses Lovecraftian fiction with swordplay.  Readers are taken to various locales in our world and the Dream World to watch swordfighters take on eldritch horrors. Contributors to the anthology include Natania Barron, Orrin Grey, Jason Heller, Jonathan L. Howard, John Hornor Jacobs, John Langan, Remy Nakamura, E. Catherine Tobler, Jeremiah Tolbert, Laurie Tom, Carrie Vaughn, Wendy N. Wagner, Caleb Wilson, and many more.

 

Children of Lovecraft edited by Ellen DatlowSF_Lovecraft

Lovecraft's influence keeps on going! Next month sees the publication of a tasty anthology from editor Ellen Datlow. Children of Lovecraft is a collection of modern stories inspired in theme and plot by Lovecraft's mythos. These are not overt pastiches to Lovecraft; instead they are wholly unique stories told in a variety of styles, tone, and setting. Contributors include Richard Kadrey, Brian Hodge, A.C. Wise, Siobhan Carroll, Laird Barron, Orrin Grey, and more.

 

Cthulhu: The Ancient One Tribute Box by Steve Mockus

I confess. Cthulhu: The Ancient One Tribute Box isn't a book of Lovecraftian fiction…it's a kit of Lovecraftian goodness that for which I would be remiss by omitting it from this list.  Inside the kit is a booklet describing the Ancient One in both Lovecraft's works and in popular culture. It also includes a wonderfully detailed, hand-painted figurine of the great Old One itself.  Besides sending chills down your spine, Cthulhu is supposed to be fun, too.  What better way to have fun than to put an ancient tentacle monster on your shelf to silently judge your family and friends?

John DeNardo is the founding editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning science fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal