H- P- Lovecraft

A Rose by any other name

A new story is boiling in my mind.  It scrapes at the inside of my skull like Athena trying desperately to get out.  The cast of characters came to me quickly, but they needed names.

...names...

Sometimes, I feel like names are the bane of all authors.  They have to fit the character and the setting, and work well with each other.  That might sound simple, but for me it spirals into a series of questions just short of the Spanish Inquisition.

Eric's First Rule of Naming

No character in the story can have the same name as a member of my immediate family.

That is hard.  In this particular story, there is a character that feels like a Christopher and another who feels like a Donna, but my sister's name is Chris and my mother-in-law's name is Donna, so both of those names are out.

I made this rule when I was really young, when family thought characters with the same name were really ways to talk about them.  (sigh)

There is a practical reason for this too.  Writers can be sued if people think characters in their stories are based on them.  It makes naming a bit challenging for me, but it is a wise thing to do.

Eric's Second Rule of Naming

Names must flow together well.

Flow is a hard thing to talk about.  The easiest way to think of name flow is that the names need to sound like they belong together.  Families and regions have certain naming conventions, and as a Speculative Fiction writer, determining those conventions are important.

Older fiction didn't bother with this, so we ended up with names like Blork, Gort, and Xanthon.  Names that sounded outlandish, but were just weird.

H. P. Lovecraft thought a lot about the names of the creatures in his fiction.  Cthulhu for example is based on the greek work Cthon which means underground, and he intentionally wanted something that was hard to pronounce and that would be pronounced differently by everyone.  He thought it helped to lend the character an unknowable and alien quality.

Eric's Third Rule of Naming

Love the names you choose.

Writing a novel or series is akin to marriage.  You are going to spend every moment of every day with these characters rummaging around in your head.  It can take months or even years to write and edit a story.  It is a commitment.  Make sure you are committed to the names you choose so you don't end up with a Dwigt in your manuscript.

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A Rose by any other name

A new story is boiling in my mind.  It scrapes at the inside of my skull like Athena trying desperately to get out.  The cast of characters came to me quickly, but they needed names.

...names...

Sometimes, I feel like names are the bane of all authors.  They have to fit the character and the setting, and work well with each other.  That might sound simple, but for me it spirals into a series of questions just short of the Spanish Inquisition.

Eric's First Rule of Naming

No character in the story can have the same name as a member of my immediate family.

That is hard.  In this particular story, there is a character that feels like a Christopher and another who feels like a Donna, but my sister's name is Chris and my mother-in-law's name is Donna, so both of those names are out.

I made this rule when I was really young, when family thought characters with the same name were really ways to talk about them.  (sigh)

There is a practical reason for this too.  Writers can be sued if people think characters in their stories are based on them.  It makes naming a bit challenging for me, but it is a wise thing to do.

Eric's Second Rule of Naming

Names must flow together well.

Flow is a hard thing to talk about.  The easiest way to think of name flow is that the names need to sound like they belong together.  Families and regions have certain naming conventions, and as a Speculative Fiction writer, determining those conventions are important.

Older fiction didn't bother with this, so we ended up with names like Blork, Gort, and Xanthon.  Names that sounded outlandish, but were just weird.

H. P. Lovecraft thought a lot about the names of the creatures in his fiction.  Cthulhu for example is based on the greek work Cthon which means underground, and he intentionally wanted something that was hard to pronounce and that would be pronounced differently by everyone.  He thought it helped to lend the character an unknowable and alien quality.

Eric's Third Rule of Naming

Love the names you choose.

Writing a novel or series is akin to marriage.  You are going to spend every moment of every day with these characters rummaging around in your head.  It can take months or even years to write and edit a story.  It is a commitment.  Make sure you are committed to the names you choose so you don't end up with a Dwigt in your manuscript.

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What is Supernatural Horror

English: Visualization of a DTI measurement of...
Image via Wikipedia

The tale of supernatural horror provides an interesting field.  THE OLDEST and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.  It is the literature of cosmic fear in its purest sense.  There is here involved a psychological pattern or tradition as real and as deeply grounded in mental experience as any other pattern or tradition of mankind.

A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain.  The more completely and unifiedly a story conveys this atmosphere the better it is as a work of art in the given medium.

  • The appeal of the spectrally macabre is generally narrow
  • It demands from the reader a certain degree of imagination and a capacity for detachment from everyday life.
  • Atmosphere is the all-important thing

Why is Supernatural Horror Effective

The thrill of the chimney-corner whisper or the lonely wood invades an obscure corner of the very hardest head; so that no amount of rationalization, reform, or Freudian analysis can quite annul the thrill.

This tendency, too, is naturally enhanced by the fact that uncertainty and danger are always closely allied; thus making any kind of an unknown world a world of peril and evil possibilities. When to this sense of fear and evil the inevitable fascination of wonder and curiosity is superadded, there is born a composite body of keen emotion and imaginative provocation.

Supernatural Horror Plays with

  • fear of the unknown
  • psychology
  • the sensitive
  • curious streak of fancy
  • more maleficent side of cosmic mystery
  • A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread

What Supernatural Horror is Not.

The literature of mere physical fear and the mundanely gruesome.  This type externally similar but psychologically widely different.  The true tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains.

Such writing, to be sure, has its place, as has the conventional or even whimsical or humorous ghost story where formalism or the author's knowing wink removes the true sense of the morbidly unnatural.  These things are not the literature of cosmic fear in its purest sense.

For more read Supernatural Horror in Literature by H. P. Lovecraft

[reus name="lovecraft books"]

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James McTeigue's The Raven

Edgar Allan Poe Grave Marker (P1010664)
Image by orayzio via Flickr

What’s next for [James] McTeigue? The filmmaker, for the first time ever, reveals details about his next project — James is currently casting a period thriller titled The Raven, a fictionalized account of the final five “mysterious” days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life. Apparently the famous writer joins the hunt for a serial killer whose murders are inspired by his stories (/Film).

Ok...  I think I understand.

This kind of movie has come and gone over the years.  Unfortunately, most of them are really bad.  The only good one I can think of is In the Mouth of Madness, but they changed the name of of the author from HP Lovecraft to Sutter Cane,

This could be a good movie, but my hopes are not too high at the moment.

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Why Progressive Speculative Fiction?

Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today- but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept about which resolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all. Isaac Asimov, "My Own View," The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

While Asimov was interested solely with Science Fiction, I believe the same can be said about Speculative Fiction as a whole. Many of the problems we face cannot be faced solely by working to fix the present conditions. If we do not explore the possible futures our choices could produce, we walk blindly into the future.

It is change, continuing change inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the word as it will be - and naturally this means that there must be an accurate perception of the world as it will be. This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our Everyman, must take on a science fictional way of thinking, whether he likes it or not or even whether he knows it or not. Only so can the deadly problems of today be solved.

Isaac Asimov, "My Own View," The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Again, I would broaden his words out to all of Speculative Fiction.

Lovecraft's Mythos

Cthulhu in the lost city of R'lyeh
Image via Wikipedia

Numerous horror novels/movies have shown us the problems eugenics would unleash upon our societies. Lestat's hope that there is some good in the universe heightens his fear and motivates him to find the answers.

H. P. Lovecraft's fiction had a simple message behind the supernatural horror.  Humankind's chief sin is hubris.  We think too highly of ourselves, and as a result blind ourselves to the fact that somewhere in this vast cosmos, there are creatures who are infinitely more powerful than we are, and whose motives are unfathomable by human logic.

Cthulu, Nyarlahotep, Azathoth, the color out of space, and the color out of time are all horrifying warnings that if we lie to ourselves, pretending there is not a bigger fish out there, we will eventually be devoured by it.

Frankenstein

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is an all too familiar cautionary tale about scientific and technological advance without the restraining forces of morality and common sense.  The tale has been told and retold, spawning an entire subgenre of horror about the dangers of dabbling in things not understood.

The Resident Evil franchise, Godzilla, and so many others I could spend the rest of the year naming them have picked up the mantle and and shared the horrific future we could create for ourselves if we are not careful to think ahead and not blindly rush into the future.

Star Trek

star-trek-crew-tm.jpgShowed us a future we could hope for.  Imagine a world  where hunger and poverty were removed from the equation.  New challenges would raise their heads, some of which would threaten to return us to the barbaric world we had left behind.

Gene Roddenberry kindled a vision in the hearts and minds of his fans of a world of limitless possibilities.  A world were our only limitations were our imagination and our character.  It is a world to strive towards.

Lord of the Rings

In the Lord of the Rings books, J. R. R. Tolkien showed us a world on the cusp of transition from one age to another.  His mythic prose illuminated the choices that people have to make when culture finds itself on the crossroads of history.

The basic choice is demonstrated through the characters of Sauroman and Gandolf.  Their world, their age was ending.  They had the choice to either embrace the future and try to make the new world a better place to live, or to hold on the past and seek the destruction of the new world before it comes.  Gandolf chose the first path, Sauromon chose the latter.

Star Wars

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Image via Wikipedia

Anakin Skywalker is faced with the same choice in the Star Wars saga.  At first he fights the future out of his attachment, but when he is faced with the ultimate decision, watching the future be destroyed in the person of his son, he learns that he must let go of his attachments and help the future come.

I wonder if that is why more people don't love the prequel trilogy.  It touches a nerve in them, and despite our bravado, no one really wants to think of themselves as Darth Vader.  No one wants to entertain the thought that they could destroy everything they believe in and care for as a result of trying to protect it.

Like all great stories, Star Wars holds a mirror up to us and says, this could be you.

We need Progressive Speculative Fiction

Many things are hard to talk about.  Stories can often show us things we would not or could not have seen otherwise.

Next time, we will discuss the differences between Positive Scifi and Progressive Speculative Fiction.

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Cthulhu Raises In Select Theaters

I am struck with both excitement and trepidation.  H.P. Lovecraft wrote some amazing Supernatural Horror.  There are some past attempts to translate some of his stories onto the big screen some worked and other has not.  After watching the trailer I had much higher hopes.  It looks good and spooky.  Unfortunately the release is limited so that means that I will have to wait because my odds of finding the silver key is probably better than having a screening near me.

Cthulu

Cthulu:

Watch The Trailer in the P:S HQ

Release Date:   schedule  (via The Official Site)

8/22 Hollywood, CA: Regent Showcase 614 N. La Brea 8/29 Atlanta, GA: at DragonCon 9/ 03 Austin, TX: at G&L International FF 9/12 Atlanta, GA: Plaza Theater 1049 Ponce De Leon NE 9/26 Denver, CO: Starz FilmCenter 900 Auraria Parkway

Listed as:  Drama, Suspense, Horror,

Studio: Regent Releasing

Director: Daniel Gildark

Produced by: Jeffrey Brown, Anne Rosellini

Written by: Grant Cogswell, Dan Gildark, H. P. Lovecraft

Stars: Cara Buono - Dannie, Jason Cottle - Russ, Richard Garfield - Zadok, Ian Geoghegan - Ralph, Scott Green - Mike, Dennis Kleinsmith - Reverend Marsh, Amy Minderhout - Julie, Robert Padilla - Ancestor, Tori Spelling - Susan, Nancy Stark - Aunt Josie, Hunter Stroud - Teen Russ, Rob Hamm - Jake

The Plot / Story:

History professor Russ is called upon by his sister to execute their late mother's estate, he is reunited with his boyhood chum and with his father, the charismatic leader of a New Age cult.  While exploring his memories, Russ wanders into a warehouse where hundreds of names are listed on the walls.  As he sleeps that night, he dreams of a stone cudgel and awakens to find a cudgel in his motel room.

The Town Drunk Warns Russ that it is an instrument of sacrifice, and a young liquor store clerk enlists him to help find her brother, who she believes has been taken by the cult.  Russ' aunt, who has been living in an asylum, tells him that his mother left a message hidden in her house.

Looking for answers in the warehouse, Russ is taken on an unbelievable journey through the small town's ancient, subterranean origins.  When he escapes, he and Mike find the girl's brother murdered.  Russ begins to believe preparations are underway for a mass sacrifice, and engages the attentions of a sexy seductress in order to obtain information.  Raped and arrested for murder on the eve of the May Festival, the stakes are raised for Russ - maybe higher than the world has ever known.    (via The Official Site)


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