What’s Not To Love About Cosmic Horror?

It’s no surprise that when most people think about the cosmic horror genre, they think of H.P. Lovecraft. Which is why the genre is also known as “Lovecraftian horror”. But I want to be very clear going into this post: Lovecraft was not a good person. AT ALL. When I read his stories, I try to do so in such a way that does not profit anyone – and since his work is now public domain, that’s not hard to do. However, it is impossible to ignore his legacy and the way he has shaped the horror and cosmic horror genres. I can’t help but admire Lovecraft’s work when he’s influenced creatives like Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Guillermo Del Torro, and Stephen King (who, in turn, have all influenced my writing). Cthulhu and other assorted monsters are a gift to readers, writers, movie buffs, and more, but Lovecraft himself was a piece of shit.

So maybe that’s why I’ve been so hesitant to dive headfirst into cosmic horror until now. When I first learned about this genre, I enjoyed it but I also had a hard time separating it from Lovecraft. And thanks to my first experience with his work being part of a university level class, I knew he was a terrible person right from the start. But like I said, Lovecraft’s work has influenced that of many, many others. Once I really took a good, hard look at this genre, I realized that although it may have started with him, it’s now so much bigger than this one man.

Starting with the AutoCrit horror course I took last year, and continuing with my involvement in that writing community, I started to really learn about cosmic horror. I got a more in-depth look at the genre compared to the brief mentions about it in school. I also started to experiment with the genre by writing short stories like “Glory to the Chosen Few” in Please Rate Your Satisfaction.

More importantly, I learned of books and movies that I just had to add to my to read/to watch list. Thanks to streaming services, I’ve watched a lot more cosmic horror films this past year than I ever knew existed. And I’ve even started reading some of the stories I flagged. This sampling of cosmic horror has helped me to better understand the genre, the tropes, and the big names behind some of the most delightfully disturbing stories. But of course, I’ve only sampled the tip of the iceberg as far as movies and books go, and I plan on consuming a lot more cosmic horror media over the next year (and the year after that…)

The thing that’s affected me the most in my re-exploration of cosmic horror is the realization that, depending on the story, it can be the perfect combination of two genres I really love: sci-fi and horror. Even better, this genre allows for some truly horrific monsters – and I do love a good monster. Once I had that lightbulb moment, I noticed my writing started to go in a whole new direction. Stories that I got stuck on now have an east fix: “add cosmic horror” my notes say. And so far, it’s working. I’ve even tried my hand at writing a cosmic horror novella from scratch to get a better feel for what I need to do if I want to have a long-term relationship with this genre.

So keep an eye on my work if you like cosmic horror. I have a feeling it’s going to showing up a lot more in my stories.

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