In this post we’ll be ranking the top 10 short stories of H.P. Lovecraft. But first, here’s a little personal aside about my feelings towards the man himself.
If you happen to know even a little bit about me, you’d know that I’m a Lovecraft fanatic. Even though HPL was racist, misanthropic, and more than a little odd, I find his writing infinitely compelling. This does not mean that I in any way support his bigotry. I merely treat him as a product of his time. He had reprehensible views, but his contribution to the horror genre is without peer. That’s what we’ll be focusing on in this post – his best fiction.
For you readers new to ‘Lovecraft Country’ here’s a little bit more about the man himself.
Howard Philips Lovecraft was an American writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction during the early 20th century. He is considered to be one of the most influential horror writers of the last 200 years, and his works have had a lasting impact on the genre. His writing is characterized by its focus on cosmic horror and the concept of the “Other,” which refers to beings or entities that are vastly different and incomprehensible to humanity. He was also the father of the Cthulhu Mythos, a fictional mythology filled with godlike monsters called The Great Old Ones and their progeny. Here now follows the best of his stories, ranked by yours truly.
LOVECRAFT’s TOP 10 WEIRD TALES
- “The Call of Cthulhu” – In this story, a young man discovers a cult that worship a monstrous being called Cthulhu, who lies in a death-like state in the city of R’lyeh. The cultists believe that Cthulhu will one day rise from his slumber and bring destruction to the world. The story explores the concept of cosmic horror and the insignificance of humanity in the face of the vast and incomprehensible universe.
- “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” – This story follows a young man who travels to the town of Innsmouth, which is rumored to be a breeding ground for monstrous fish-like creatures. The story explores themes of fear of the unknown and the dangers of blindly following authority.
- “At the Mountains of Madness” – A scientific expedition to Antarctica discovers an ancient city built by an extraterrestrial race. The story explores themes of the fragility of human understanding and the dangers of hubris.
- “The Dunwich Horror” – This story follows a young man who becomes embroiled in a battle against an ancient and powerful sorcerer and his monstrous offspring. The story explores themes of forbidden knowledge and the dangers of playing with powers beyond human comprehension.
- “The Color Out of Space” – A meteorite crashes on a farm, releasing a strange and deadly force that slowly destroys the land and all living things in its vicinity. The story explores themes of cosmic horror and the dangers of not respecting the power of nature.
- “The Whisperer in Darkness” – A man investigates strange occurrences in rural Vermont, which lead him to discover a race of extraterrestrial beings who have been secretly living on Earth for centuries. The story explores themes of paranoia and the dangers of not trusting one’s own perception of reality.
- “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” – A young man becomes obsessed with his ancestor, a notorious sorcerer, and begins to uncover a dark and terrifying secret about his family’s past. The story explores themes of ancestral guilt and the dangers of delving too deep into the unknown.
- “The Shadow Out of Time” – A man discovers that he has been inhabited by the consciousness of an ancient being from a previous civilization, and becomes plagued by nightmares of a race of beings that once controlled the Earth. The story explores themes of identity and the dangers of not understanding one’s place in the universe.
- “The Haunter of the Dark” – A man becomes obsessed with an ancient and powerful being that is said to reside in an abandoned church in Providence. The story explores themes of obsession and the dangers of not respecting the unknown.
- “The Thing on the Doorstep” – A man becomes embroiled in a battle against his friend, who has made a pact with an ancient being to acquire immense power. The story explores themes of betrayal and the dangers of not understanding the true cost of power.
These stories are a testament to the power of cosmic horror and the concept of the “Other.” Lovecraft’s writing explores the vast and incomprehensible universe, and the dangers of not respecting the unknown. The above list is meant as a primer for you HPL newbies, but also as a brief overview of his best tales.
If you don’t own any Lovecraft and would like to, I highly recommend this clothbound collection from Sirius publishing: The H.P. Lovecraft Deluxe Collection
Now what are you waiting for? Go brave the terrors of the unfathomable cosmos and go read some Lovecraft. Feedback is always welcome, at least from those whose sanity remains intact.