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Author Topic: Lovecraft and Steampunk?  (Read 1189 times)
Mme. Ratchet
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« on: April 21, 2016, 02:59:27 am »

I wasn't quite sure where this should go, so if it belongs elsewhere, by all means move it there. ^_^ Now that that is out of the way, on to the subject at hand!

So I've seen a lot of crossover between steampunks and those who are fans or followers of Mr. Lovecraft's work (I have yet to read it, but a friend is loaning me a copy of his completed, compiled works at some point to read).

So the biggest question I have is what sort of actual crossover is there between Mr. Lovecraft's works and Steampunk? I know he was born in the 1890s, so within the typical years that "steampunk" falls in to, but other than that, much of his work seems to be attributed to much later time periods. I've personally felt that the typical ideas of what "steampunk" are end around the end of the Great War, since shortly after that, the internal combustion engine and similar, more advanced "dieselpunk" and other time periods start to make more sense as being applied there, which seems to be the dates and times that a lot of Mr. Lovecraft's work falls in to.

While I do find Lovecraftian stuff super cool to look at, and similar ideas to be fascinating, where do they fit in our steampunk world of Queen Victoria (and to a much lesser extent, King Edward)?
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qui est in literis
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2016, 04:50:45 pm »

My dear, as with most aspects of steampunk, the why is simple: because it's fun!  Cheesy
It's not difficult to cross aesthetics, though. Even if Mr. Lovecraft's work falls for the most part beyond the era usually considered 'steampunk,' the worlds he created are much more expansive. His terrors and evils presumably existed in the Victorian era of his fictional timeline, ready to be discovered and combated by some intrepid explorer, long before any of the events he wrote about.

... There is also the fact, which you may have noticed, that the entire steampunk subculture has a bit of a tentacle fetish. Do with that what you will.  Grin
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2016, 05:32:04 pm »

Many of Lovecraft's stories say that something has been there for generations before the story we are reading.  There's quite a lot of ancient evils, strange inheritances or recently found manuscripts from earlier times.

There are also several stories by modern authors that use the Cthulhu Mythos and Victorian setting in interesting ways.  Here is my favourite to date.  Written with appropriate to period advertisements.

http://www.neilgaiman.com/mediafiles/exclusive/shortstories/emerald.pdf
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2016, 05:39:46 pm »

Study in Emerald! Yessssssssssssss! I once hand-scribed, illuminated, and bound a copy. And lost it. I still haven't gotten over that.
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walking stick
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2016, 05:56:50 pm »

I actually did a history project on Victorian Advertising so I have an extra reason to enjoy this story.
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Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2016, 06:21:57 pm »

All of that makes sense. I have not yet had the opportunity to read any of his no doubt fantastic works, so I am mostly in the dark in general.

And yes, I have noticed the apparent tentacle fetish lol
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2016, 06:26:59 pm »

Well, go read it, then! And sleep with a night light for months. Bwahahahaha.

But you're right; Lovecraft isn't really overtly steampunk, just highly adaptable.

walking stick: Is it posted anywhere? I'd like to read it.
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Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2016, 06:58:24 pm »

A friend of mine actually offered me an anthology of Lovecraft's completed works to borrow and ready. I'm just waiting on him to get it in the mail to me.
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Atterton
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2016, 07:46:31 pm »

It's a nerd thing.

Also Lovecraft's horror is based around aliens and other such science fictional concepts. That makes it fairly compatible with steampunk, as opposed to stories of werewolves or banshees. Though I believe Lovecraft referred to the victorian age as "a mistake".
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2016, 02:18:15 pm »

I read (practically all published) Lovecraft back in the Golden Age of Science Fiction (I was 13 years old) and was absolutely blown away.

I attempted to re-read some just a few years ago and was unable to get past the prose.

His ideas and images are still with me and cannot be sullied by his writing. Lovecraft is very important to have read but is quite a burden to read.
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2016, 05:35:24 pm »

Hearing Prince tribute whilst reading this gave rise to:-

Purple Prose, Purple Prose,
Purple Prose, Purple Prose
Lovecraft's writing suffocating you with
Purple Prose.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2016, 08:02:05 am »

Lovecraft was an antiquarian, who thought of modern aesthetic and speech as having continuously "decayed" since the 18th. C.  He was in some ways a person who lamented the American Independence, and tried as much as he could to use an arcane and obsolete vocabulary, in order to "recover" the elegance and sophistication of an era that was "lost."

He was largely self-taught, never having the means to attend university, and because of that, he immersed himself in the cutting edge science of the day, and attempted to interpret it from his layman's perspective - this influenced much of his work. He fantasized about being an academic researcher or a professor, and this is evident throughout his work.

The language he used in his writings can get a bit difficult to read after a while, and at first I thought that his style of writing was rubbish. It's not until after you read several of his short stories that your brain gets used to his arcane language and you begin to see a common thread through his stories. At that point the short stories begin to pull you in.

Several things make him a Steampunk by default. Mad Science, for example; his fascination with academic investigative research and science, particularly in Physics and Astronomy (as no doubt he lived through the revolution of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and the associated astronomical observations that confirmed Einstein's physics.  And other discoveries, such as new planets and the discovery of galaxies (a hot topic at the start of the 20th. C).

His love for adventures involving monsters, the notion of a "cosmic horror,' that is interplanetary aliens with nefarious intentions who are hidden in every corner of the globe since time immemorial. His mixing of the science and horror genres... Copious love for the occult, mysticism and witchcraft - often combined with with interplanetary science-fiction.

Since he had a fascination with the academic world, many of his stories involve Vicwardian Era characters who are intrepid university professors or researchers, and who risk life and limb to discover the "long since buried and terrible truth, not meant for human eyes, and which surely would make the bravest of men faint upon setting eyes on such horror." You get the idea  Wink  His style of writing was a bit ridiculous,  but his work "grows on you."

What is not to like about his work?  Grin  But I still think he was somewhat of cowardly fellow, if his principal characters reflect any of his own personality... Many a time, his characters would faint at one point or another of the story.  A lot of fainting going on  Grin

Well there are a few things not to like, very negative aspects about the man too. He was a staunch bigot, not unusual for his time, but he explicitly expressed some of his racist views on his work, using what he considered to be racially inferior peoples as subjects of, and fodder for, stories on the occult, witchcraft and human sacrifice (a recurrent theme in his stories).

I recommend getting access to his work online and downloading his ahort stories to your tablet...

Here's a site I used to frequent:

http://www.dagonbytes.com/thelibrary/lovecraft/

« Last Edit: April 23, 2016, 08:22:21 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2016, 02:42:29 am »

All of the above and also it may have something to do with the fact that many Steampunks appreciate Gothic art and Horror on some level.
H.P. Lovecraft is a master at frightening those who dare read his work in the middle of the night while alone in a dimly light room.  

"If I could create an ideal world, it would be an England with the fire of the Elizabethans, the correct taste of the Georgians, and the refinement and pure ideals of the Victorians"

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« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2016, 02:46:17 am »

the entire steampunk subculture has a bit of a tentacle fetish

Honestly I hadn't noticed this.  Really?  If we're talking about shokushu goukan, then perhaps a darker corner of this site should be found as you suggest   Shocked
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Athanor
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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2016, 03:59:41 am »

 

"If I could create an ideal world, it would be an England with the fire of the Elizabethans, the correct taste of the Georgians, and the refinement and pure ideals [and technology] of the Victorians"

H. P. Lovecraft

There. I've amended Lovecraft's quote, a bit, to more accurately reflect  Steampunk interests. Although I think H.P.L. himself didn't care much for any kind of technology.

Athanor.
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chironex
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« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2016, 09:15:13 am »

the entire steampunk subculture has a bit of a tentacle fetish

Honestly I hadn't noticed this.  Really?  If we're talking about shokushu goukan, then perhaps a darker corner of this site should be found as you suggest   Shocked
Talk of Air-Krakens, Dreadfleet's mecha-squid ship, the kraken attacking the Nautilus... If not a fetish or kink, then certainly some element of tentacles. Some descriptions of Martians include tentacles, and I have some items I got at Spotlight in the range of "steampunk" charms they carry, which incorporate tentacles.

The CoC role-playing game by Chaosium has expansions to include different settings other than the interwar period. Cthulhu Now was set in the 1990s, and another one had the setting in the 19th century. This, of course, is not counting for time travel.



What is not to like about his work?  Grin  But I still think he was somewhat of cowardly fellow, if his principal characters reflect any of his own personality... Many a time, his characters would faint at one point or another of the story.  A lot of fainting going on  Grin

Well there are a few things not to like, very negative aspects about the man too. He was a staunch bigot, not unusual for his time, but he explicitly expressed some of his racist views on his work, using what he considered to be racially inferior peoples as subjects of, and fodder for, stories on the occult, witchcraft and human sacrifice (a recurrent theme in his stories).



Fainting can be done voluntarily in the game, which can save you from acquiring insanity points, but of course leaves you helpless to do anything in the case that the thing you fear is now within arm's reach and can do with you as it will.

As for the bigotry, bloke had a black cat he called "Niggerman". Case closed. No matter how he tried (I'm not anti-Semitic! Watch me marry this Jewish woman!)
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« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2016, 09:16:37 am »

Also:
http://www.ottgallery.com/WelcometoArkham.html
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