23 March 2013

To Accompany Submission to Whispers from the Abyss

Note: This essay begin as part of a package of submissions (all rejected) to the publication named in the title. It has since been modified.

Mission Statement.
     Oversaturation of the American pop culture apparatus with mere elements of HPL's work-- epitomized in visual spectacles of Cthulhu or tentacles-- has led to public familiarization with Cthulhu Mythos material at expense of affect. In “Notes on Writing Weird Fiction,” HPL said, All that a marvel story can ever be, in a serious way, is a vivid picture of a certain type of human mood” (emphasis in original). Authors emphasizing merely the elements of his work do so at expense of its serious emotional impact.
     To this end, while inspired by philosophical and artistic expressions of literary pessimism sometimes popularly described as “Lovecraftian,” my stories elude entirely the trappings of Lovecraft's fiction to reclaim their affect. My stories never mention New England let alone Cthulhu, nor will readers hear an “IƤ!”, nor find the words “eldritch” or “tentacle” anywhere in them. While taking inspiration from across the span of Lovecraft's fictional oeuvre, my work aspires more to the expressionistic impulses of his dark fantasy writings in the 1920s-- the self-loathing of “The Outsider,” the isolation and wonder of “The Temple,” or the disillusionment turned urban phobia of “He”-- rather than his more popular, documentarian-realist sci-fi style of the '30s. From within the array of Lovecraft's artistic sensibilities, I also implement an awareness of those exploring the milieu after him-- especially Fritz Leiber and Thomas Ligotti. The following works highlight themes of frailty, cosmic terror, alien indifference, loneliness, pessimism, and black humor that are essential to the emotional impact found in their inspiration.

Synopses.
  • The Pendant of Zeklin Kha” (564 words)
    Essential to the conception of a Lovecraftian aesthetic is that no horror can be overcome by physical force. In this tale, a thief in a world of crypts and dead wizards finds a magical treasure from which no sword can save him.
  • The Damned Cat” (559 words)
    Inspired by “The Cats of Ulthar” and the half-rat figure Jenkin Brown in “Dreams in the Witch-House,” this tale tells of a lonely flowergirl, Niza, accused of witchcraft, for whom life only worsens. Learn how a cat may be the cause of a rat problem.
  • Pacific Undersea Equal Opportunity Employment” (66 words)
    Applying a sense of pervasive, urban panic from stories like “He” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” to notions of corporate [rather than corporeal] horror, ala Ligotti, this ad parody imagines the Pacific Ocean as an incorporated entity recruiting suicides.
  • An Empty Room” (764 words)
    The modern obsession of associating Lovecraft too strongly with body horror misses the point by emphasizing element over affect. This story removes bodies by extending its horror away from a single monster to a more sinister, all-encompassing emptiness. Recalls HPL's "Ex Oblivione" while invoking the pandemonism of Ligotti's "I Have a Special Plan for This World" or "Nethescurial."
  • Mosquito-Things” (830 words)
    Imagines a horrifying losing scenario in an empiricist's battle for reason. Doomed to the unreality of dreams, nightmare monsters conspire to erase an individual from time. Bonus: begins with a line from “The Whisperer in Darkness.”