Physics & Astronomy
The early twentieth century brought about some of the best and most influential horror or weird tales ever written in the English speaking world. The most impressive and most lauded author of the group composed of such figures as Algernon Blackwood, M. R. James, Arthur Machen, Clark A. Smith, and Robert E. Howard was H. P. Lovecraft. Posthumously declared the literary successor to Edgar Allan Poe, Lovecraft’s fiction and tales of terror have cast such a huge shadow that every significant author in weird writing since his passing has claimed him as a literary heir. Lovecraft’s works were a landmark in the genre of weird fiction because he broke from the gothic traditions of the werewolf, vampire, and ghost. Instead he filled his works with creatures and beings of a different, ill-defined sort and manner, whose existence tended to relegate our own species to a mere moment of time with the most primitive of minds in a much larger cosmos. My project aims to explore how Lovecraft’s personal interests in science, particularly his love of astronomy, were a major source of inspiration for his work. As early as Darwin and as recent as Einstein, scientific discovery was necessary for Lovecraft to create his fictional worlds as he could only extend and violate the laws of nature in fiction if he was aware of what laws were under threat. Without Poe, Lovecraft could not have existed as the same author, without physics, the result would be nearly the same.
McCammon, Garrison, "Quantum Physics and Relativity in Lovecraft's Fiction" (2017). English Summer Fellows. 14.