Do want! I’ve seen that side of Lovecraft, but it never occurred to me it could be exploited for plot material.
Is there an e-book edition available anywhere? I haven’t been able to find it in the Kindle or iBooks stores.
I just placed a hold with my library, and when I did so I saw an e-book version listed as available, so it must exist somewhere.
Looks like you can get the e-book from Weightless, but that’s the only source I’ve yet found:
Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear exploits that angle as well. It’s a sort of reverse-Lovecraft, which appeals to me, as I can’t read HPL without seeing him as an extremely unreliable narrator. His warped racist representations of people end up also carrying over to the “monsters” and “cults” which just become aliens and repressed minority religions, subject to blood libel. Basically, I have great difficulty reading Lovecraft in the way it was intended - I start reading it as stories of sympathetic alien beings valiantly trying to survive in the face of being unfairly maligned and persecuted by people like the narrator.
I loved this book…although I found the connection between eugenics and the redneck monster tribe to be tenuous, at best, and badly forced at worst. The novel would’ve worked perfectly well even if all references to eugenics were removed and Eliada were merely a frontier town attempting to be progressive in the early 20th Century. On the other hand, the issues of racism involving the black Bostonian doctor on the frontier were handled very well and made for a good side-story that made him a much more interesting character.
That’s actually exactly what HPL was trying to get across, especially in later works like At the Mountains of Madness and The Shadow Out of Time: the alien species are generally more civilized, advanced, and sympathetic than the pathetic, confused, often willfully-ignorant humans manhandling their ruins and/or screwing up relations with them. The only entities whose actions are truly malign are Cthulhu and the Other Gods–and they’re not malign in the sense of being actively, purposefully evil: they’re simply so alien that their interactions with humanity very often result in detriment to the humans involved.
First off: thanks to Cory for writing such a kind review of my unkind little book. Second off: timing being what it is, the review comes up as ChiZine Publications is switching ebook distributors so it’s temporarily unavailable on Amazon. ChiZine is selling ebooks from its website though, and to mitigate the trouble of the switchover, it’s half-off–just five bucks Canadian. Here’s the link:http://chizinepub.com/books/eutopia.php
Having read a lot of Lovecraft, and knowing at least a bit about eugenics movements, I think that the implicit racism people identify in Lovecraft is overstated, in some ways. He lived a quite stuffy and affectedly romantic conception of Eurocentric culture which I think was not unknown to New England gentry of the time. It was, of course, reactionary. But my impression has been the Lovecraft was eccentric enough to instead be just generally xenophobic. He wasn’t hiding racist attitudes, because people of his time and place weren’t pressured into doing so. So instead I see it as a loss of cultural and family identity extrapolated to a phantasmagorically logical conclusion - the loss of humanity itself. Even of the loss of what defines living things! I see his work as being obviously more personal than racist, a demonstration of deep crisis of identity and existence.
Well, yeah, there are those two stories where ironically HPL was willing to see the humanity in the alien (unlike his other stories where he was unable to do that with a black person, etc.), but most of his stories don’t go that way. (And even those stories show Lovecraft’s racism - “Mountains” has enlightened alien beings, but also the monstrous Shoggoths - which are literally the black slaves of the Elder Beings.) There’s stories like “The Shadow over Innsmouth” which is all about the horror of miscegenation, where the focus of the horror is the “deep ones,” despite the fact that they don’t actually do anything in the story except try to live peacefully with humans and protect themselves from outsiders who might uncover them, something they’re right to do, as the story’s end shows - the humans commit genocide against them. (The story finds no horror in that however.) But most of his stories tend towards the dynamics of “Call of Cthulhu” - the monstrously alien beings are worshipped by “degenerate” (i.e. “not white”) humans who perform “human sacrifice” and commit various atrocities in the stories, according to the narrator. (Sensitive white people who are aware of Cthulhu only find it to be a source of horror or horrified fascination.) The fact of the matter is that the two stories you mention are the odd men out in Lovecraft’s work. Perhaps it’s because they’re later work and he was successfully grappling with his racism, or just that he had finally imagined aliens that were really ultra-Englishmen (complete with colonialism).
I soooooo wanted to love this book. (POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD)
I hoped this would be the Novel of American Eugenics I’ve been wanting: creepily uncovering the role of the American eugenics movement in our history, how these ideas were normalized, the horrific ways they were implemented and justified, and the ways these philosophical beliefs are still felt in society, (Naturally, with excellent characters, plot, prose, etc, etc, etc…)
The story starts out well, but, alas, diverges from the eugenics problem just when it promises to get interesting, leaving behind most of the characters it introduces, and never delving into the promise of moral conflicts these characters embody. Instead, the book sinks artlessly into fantasy horror silliness. By the end of the story, it’s clear the eugenics story line didn’t need to be there at all.
Do they sell drm free epubs by any chance? Can’t find any mention of it on the site, there’s a BB article from 2009 but that was then and this is now.
Yep. The books are DRM free, far as I know.
Oh great, thanks. Another sale cha-ching…
You get drm free epub, mobi and pdf files.
Like others, I found the whole eugenics angle a bit tedious and overdone…but well worth reading if you’re a fan of Lovecraftian themes.
And to people who think he wasn’t racist, yes he was. He was in some ways even more racist than most people of his very racist time and place, although he seems to have mellowed later in his life. The HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast has some good discussions of this on some early shows. You can certainly be a fan of his work (I am) while recognizing his unsavory attitudes…but I don’t think an honest reader of “The Street” can deny them.
(EDIT nevermind - I see @politeruin’s question was answered already. Just bought my copy. A correction though - I was charged $5 US, so like $6.50 Canadian)
My bad: I assumed my Canadian publisher was charging Canadian coin.
But is “not white” really what “degenerate” means? I think it implies not so much a lesser civilization as those who have lost their greatness. Such as through inbreeding, changing culture and fortunes, even melting one’s face through overuse of Sith lightening or other evil practices. Viewed through the lens of insecurity regarding the decline of Lovecraft’s own family, I see his anxiety about degeneration a bit differently.