Howard Phillips Lovecraft is one of the most influential writers of horror, specifically in the area of cosmic horror, the idea being that life is a vast mystery and our small human minds cannot fully comprehend it. Many of the protagonists in Lovecraft’s stories are driven mad when they come face to face with the reality of the universe. Besides being famous for his creation of a fictional world and hierarchy of elder Gods and how they exert an unseen influence on the world, Lovecraft wrote many other stories in the science fiction and even fantasy genres. Here is a list of the top three H.P. Lovecraft stories that are perfect to read in front of a crackling fire or snuggled up in your bunk bed at midnight:
The “Reanimator” is one of Lovecraft’s most famous and popular stories, no doubt because of its 1985 cult film adaptation and subsequent sequels, but the story itself can stand on its own as a strange bit of zombie science fiction. In the story, Herbert West, a sort of mad scientist, is working on a serum to resurrect the dead. With West’s success, of course, comes horror as his reanimated corpses run amock. A horrific and sometimes funny parody of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” “Reanimator” is pure Lovecraft.
The Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath
This short novella by Lovecraft is unlike anything you will ever read. Largely influenced by his own strange dream travels, the closet comparison one can make to “Kadath” is possibly the fantasy work of Tolkein. In “Kadath,” the narrator, Randolph Carter, is transported to a dream world were the Great Ones and Elder gots with names like Nyarlothotep and Azathoth rule. The story plays out like a sort of “Pilgrim’s Progress” filtered through a demented, strange mind—Lovecraft’s mind.
At the Mountains of Madness
Lovecraft’s crowning achievement, “Madness” was one of his last works to be completed and bears the mark of a writer at his peak. Bringing together the ideas, characters and mythos of his previous work, “Madness” is the first-person story of geologist William Dyer and his expedition to Antarctica. Once there, Dyer finds that things are awry when the mountain peaks turn out to be hiding alien architecture from an elder race of aliens and unspeakable, indescribable beings known as Shoggoths. The story spends a lot of time detailing the history of these alien races with such detail and specificity that it seems almost real. A great introduction to what is now known as the “Cthulhu Mythos,” a film based on “At the Mountains of Madness” is rumored to be in production soon, directed by “Hellboy” director Guillermo del Toro.