This is a continuation of the Speculative Fiction Genre Glossary Project posts. For the complete genre index click here.
What is Cosmic Horror? (aka Lovecraftian Horror)
A subgenre of horror inspired by the works and mythos created by H. P. Lovecraft, where the human perception of reality is a thin layer that protects people from the evil or uncaring horrors that rule the universe. To glimpse at the truth can cause insanity, and that there are things humans are not meant to know.
Conventions: visceral textures (goo, slime), anachronistic writing style, tentacles, Eldrich Abominations (monsters that defy natural law and are so alien that the sight of them can drive someone to madness).
Themes: Isolation, hopelessness, helplessness, the fragility of sanity, secrets, fear of the unknown, humanities struggles are insignificant.
- Various writings of H. P. Lovecraft
- The Mist by Stephen King
- The Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock
I find this genre a bit bleak, but it has influenced comics (Hellboy) and film. Elements of Lovecraftian horror are frequently incorporated into steampunk as well. Anyone care for a side order of tentacles?