Lovecraft’s 2018: a year in brief review:
* In 2018 many translations were either seriously underway or newly published in Europe. These including S.T. Joshi’s monumental biography I Am Providence as Je Suis Providence in France (due in 2019, with early advance PDFs out now for subscribers), and Lovecraft: Leben und Werk in Germany (the second and final part of which is due in early 2019). Cthulhu kalder: Fortaellinger 1926-1928 gave Danes the Lovecraft stories in their native Danish. Teoria dell’orrore [The Theory of Horror] gave Italians writings by Lovecraft on the theory of horror and the weird. A fine edition of Lovecraft’s selected poems appeared in Polish, and the best of his essays was published in Spanish as Confesiones de un incredulo: y otros ensayos escogidos. Joshi’s book collection Against Religion: The Atheist Writings of H.P. Lovecraft appeared in Italian as Contro la religione. The Hungarian Lovecraft Society is currently well into translating Lord of a Visible World, Lovecraft’s ‘autobiography in letters’.
* Leading Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi published his usual small mountain of new books, including: his critical survey 21st-Century Horror: Weird Fiction at the Turn of the Millennium as an affordable Kindle ebook (in the face of leftist threats of a boycott of any publisher who dared publish it); his very entertaining and pithy What Is Anything? Memoirs of a Life in Lovecraft; and the fourth edition of Lovecraft’s Library: A Catalogue (end Dec 2017). Joshi’s older H.P. Lovecraft: The Decline of the West, a clear exposition and study of Lovecraft’s philosophical and political thinking and development, also became usefully available on Amazon in 2018 as a budget ebook. The chunky collection of Lovecraft’s letters, Letters to Maurice W. Moe and Others, was published in print and includes the Dwyer letters and Samuel Loveman material. The journal Lovecraft Annual launched a strong new issue, with Joshi at the helm as usual. The S. T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship in H. P. Lovecraft opened for 2019 applicants.
* The usual scholarly work proceeded at all levels, from student dissertations to the Lovecraft Annual #12, through to expensive $110 essay collections destined for academic libraries and elite paywalled research databases. Strong works on Lovecraft’s historical context appeared, such as the excellent business-history book Secret Origins of Weird Tales which looked at the early years of the title, and the academic survey collection Weird Fiction in Britain 1880–1939. A book seemingly well-suited to the undergraduate classroom appeared from McFarland, H.P. Lovecraft: Selected Works, Critical Perspectives and Interviews on His Influence. The Journal of Geek Studies was an especially notable appearance among open journals, and the open Brumal: Research Journal on the Fantastic called for contributions to a future “monographic issue on The Fantastic in Lovecraft’s Universe”.
* Several ebooks vanished from Amazon in the summer, such as Lovecraft’s Letters to James F. Morton, and H.P. Lovecraft: New England Decadent. So did the Arthur C. Clarke biography, which is of interest re: the early Lovecraft influence. The Morton letters later returned to Amazon at the end of the year, but such vanishings suggest it is perilous for scholars to assume that once an ebook is published it will always remain available.
* A two-day symposium on Lovecraft was held in January 2018 at Jean Monnet University, Saint-Etienne, France. A major Spanish cultural and literary event, the 10th Algeciras Fantastika, was a Lovecraft themed special. A low-key Stockholm H.P. Lovecraft Festival appears to have been held in Sweden. Planning appears to have proceeded for NecronomiCon 2019, and some initial publicity and art was released.
* The venerable Robert M. Price robustly re-booted his role as Crypt of Cthulhu editor, producing three substantial new issues in 2018. The new Crypt stuck to the tried and tested formula by mixing fiction with a wealth of highly informed new scholarship from independent scholars. Price also supervised a raft of republications as PDF downloads, and most of the Crypt back-issues are now available as ebooks at the Necronomicon Press website. However, Price’s popular The Lovecraft Geek podcast went silent in early summer 2018.
* The large Hevelin Collection of fanzines opened up for public online transcription. Lots of nice scanned material turned up on Archive.org, for free, including good 1920s Weird Tales and some Lovecraft Studies scans. Brown University continued to scan and place online its wealth of Lovecraft archival material.
* Providence’s new life-sized Lovecraft statue was completed in and looks great, and is presumably now wending its weary way through the bureaucratic elements of the site permits and installation procedures in the city. Thanks to the work of Dave Goudsward, ‘Tryout’ Smith — an Amateur Journalism friend and publisher of Lovecraft — finally had a grave marker/headstone along with a dedication event in his native Haverhill.
* Lovecraft himself did well in comics this year with two very high-quality graphic-novel biographies in paper and ebook, He Who Wrote in the Darkness and Une nuit avec Lovecraft, which joined 2017’s similar Some Notes on a Nonentity: The Life of H.P. Lovecraft. There were also more general adaptations of the fiction to comics, perhaps the most notable being Maroto’s Lovecraft: The Myth of Cthulhu.
* The usual wealth of 2D visual art and sculpture continued to be produced, and might in future usefully be collected in a curated “Best Lovecraft Art of 2019” POD/ebook. Despite the availability of such art the standards of book cover design continued to decline, often to dismal levels, with notable exceptions among the stylish Italians.
* A major orchestral work by Guillaume Connesson premiered in Germany as “The Cities of Lovecraft” (aka “Les Cites de Lovecraft”, aka “Les Trois Cites de Lovecraft”) and was broadcast by the National German Radio service (NDR). A strong series of blog articles explored “The Music of Harold Farnese”, an early classical composer for Lovecraft. In rock music 2018 was judged an outstanding year for the Lovecraft-infused ‘death metal’ genre of heavy metal, with the leading album being “The Scythe Of Cosmic Chaos” by Sulphur Aeon. This album was ranked many reviewers as one of the best ever produced by the sub-genre, and it forms an extended evocation of Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark”.
* Theatre and radio-theatre continued to be a small but productive niche for Lovecraft adaptations, and the London Lovecraft Festival was again staged. In 2018 some biographical material emerged, with stage or radio dramas of Lovecraft-and-Sonia being either published (Howard, Mon Amour) or broadcast, and S.T. Joshi also announced he is working on a Sonia screenplay titled The Lovecrafts.
* Quality audiobooks of Lovecraft’s work continued to become available, including previously unavailable items such as good readings of the collaborations and revisions. It now seems to be quite fashionable for a new crop of young Generation Z fans to do an impromptu ‘reading aloud of a Lovecraft story’ for posting on YouTube.
* Two members of Lovecraft’s circle did well in terms of high-end cinema. The long-awaited feature documentary Clark Ashton Smith: The Emperor of Dreams was released on DVD and streaming services, and has been well reviewed. The acclaimed Robert E. Howard biopic The Whole Wide World was released on a basic DVD, albeit in cut form with a couple of scenes missing including one in which Lovecraft is discussed. In the big-budget productions, Lovecraft’s ideas continued to feed in to many movies and some TV, in either acknowledged or unacknowledged ways. The popular Aquaman was probably the Hollywood movie that put ‘Lovecraftian horror’ on the screen most expensively in visual terms in 2018, albeit within the framework of a great deal of fun absurdity and stock pulp heroics. There was also a strong rumour, late in the year, of a major future production in 2019 of “The Colour Out of Space” and it was said that the major actor Nicolas Cage had signed on for the project. Independent producers continued to make enough new indie films to feed the annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.
* There was a lot of activity in games, as usual, in their various forms: digital, tabletop RPGs and card games. The most notable release was the big-budget Call of Cthulhu videogame which offers players a fairly faithful interactive 3D mystery-horror visit to what is effectively Innsmouth. The game was produced under a Chaosium licence, and appears to have landed fairly well and its retail reception was not ‘thrown off’ too much by the usual haters.
* And of course, the return of the Tentaclii blog, after highly productive sojourns with H.G. Wells, Tolkien, and the Gawain-poet. On a daily posting schedule, new discoveries have so far included an early un-noticed Lovecraft appearance in fiction in Long’s “The Black Druid”, and the probable reason for Wright’s crucial rejection of “Cool Air”, plus more new biographical details about Lovecraft’s circle and correspondents.
Onward to 2019!