From beyond the dark gateway, some comments about Silver Scarab Press' upcoming release, The Revised Edition of the Reader's Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos.
Where did you draw the line in compiling the Reader's Guide as to what was and what wasn't Cthulhu Mythos literature, and thus, what was to be included in the listing?
I used a very broad definition, so that there would be stories included that would agree with almost anyone's definition: Those stories interrelated through the utilization of a common background of lore. The key word in this definition is "background." Thus, there are stories where the elements of the Cthulhu Mythology are an integral part (they appear in the foreground); those where they play a minor role (they appear in the background); and those stories that are also a part of a separate series, the series as a whole is included, since the other stories in the series elaborate on the details in the story (or stories) that is integral to the Cthulhu Mythos.
To give an indication of the scope of the Reader's Guide and how widely published Mythos literature really is, approximately how many separate items are listed in the Reader's Guide and how are they listed?
There is a grand total of approximately seven hundred individual items listed in the Reader's Guide, of which approximately five hundred and fifty are stories, with three hundred and sixty of those considered as being part of the Cthulhu Mythos. The listings are broken down as follows: Chronological Listing by Publication Date, Alphabetical Listing by Title, Alphabetical Listing by Author (this listing contains all appearances of the individual fiction items), Series Listing, Alphabetical Listing by Author of Nonfiction, Alphabetical Listing by Author of Parodies, Alphabetical Listing by Author of Poetry, Alphabetical Listing by Title of Books, Pamphlets, Brochures, Etc., Errata and Addenda, and Addresses of Publications and Publishers.
Cycles of popular interest often exist in specialized fields of literature. Have you noticed such cycles regarding interest in Cthulhu Mythos fiction, etc.?
I have gone through my chronological listing and made note of how many stories were published in what year. It wasn't very enlightening. There didn't seem to be any pattern (or cycle). I think it would be more enlightening if it were done by the actual year that the stories were written, but unfortunately, I don't have this information at the present time. If it is any help,though, I have noticed that this is the third generation of Cthulhu Mythos disciples. The first generation were those writers who were writing at the same time that Lovecraft was writing. The second generation writers were those that began writing after the interest in the Cthulhu Mythos by the first generation of writers started to die out. The end of this second generation occurred with the demise of the semi-professional magazine Anubis. The third generation writers began writing around 1968 and 1969, but there were only a few of them. Nyctalops ushered in the renewed interest in H.P. Lovecraft in 1970, with an all-time high number of stories being published in 1971 -- twenty-seven. Incidentally, in 1969 there were 10, in 1970 there were 10, in 1972 there were 22, and in the first six or seven months of 1973, there have been twenty.
A recent article on H.P. Lovecraft in Time said that over one million copies of his books had been sold since 1970. To what would you attribute the current trend toward HPL and Mythos literature's general popularity?
Due to people not being able to keep up with the rapidly changing world -- especially scientific changes --, they are turning away from science to religion and the supernatural. Even though there are those who are turning away from science, they still can't accept religion or the supernatural -- mostly because they don't believe, or are unable to believe, in either -- so they have accepted the easiest substitute available: fiction. This turning away from science has not only increased the interest in Lovecraft, and the science fiction and fantasy field as a whole, but also the interest in movies containing violence and sex (especially the former). No matter what label is attached to what is happening now, it still comes out as one word: escapism.
According to various sources, Lovecraft's work has become very popular in France. Would this seem so all over Europe, using publication of his fiction as in indicator?
I would say yes. I know of new editions coming out in France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, and Italy. Interest is definitely catching on in regard to the Cthulhu Mythos. I am presently in contact with two Belgian writers and two German writers who are at present contributing to the mythology.
In an editorial comment in Spoor # 2, you said that many of the Mythos stories you receive for your own magazine, From Beyond the Dark Gateway, are first stories written by new authors, and thus the Cthulhu Mythos is still influencing readers with the desire to write. Has a significant number of Mythos tales been written by new writers in recent years?
Since 1969, as mentioned previously, there have been eighty-five stories published, of which twenty-six stories were the first Cthulhu Mythos stories written by their respective authors. Out of this figure, approximately fifteen of them were first stories. I can't say whether or not they were the first stories they had ever written,but they wre the first stories that they had published.
In recent years, has the bulk of Cthulhu Mythos fiction been carried by professional magazines, amateur magazines, or anthologies?
Of the eighty-five stories published in the last five years, eleven were published in professional magazines, forty-one were published in amateur magazines, and thirty-two were published in anthologies.
Being familiar with the recent trends in Mythos fiction, does it appear that more contemporaries are following HPL's style and content closely, or are more branching out, approaching the Mythos in an oblique, as opposed to direct, manner?
I would say that seventy-five percent of the writers writing Cthulhu Mythos stories now, started out trying to imitate Loveraft's style and content. The other quarter have been following Derleth's lead. About half of them are staying with the same style that they had started with, for they have found that it works for them. The rest have either quit writing within Cthulhu Mythos stories, or have experimented with different methods of writing within the mythology. Some insist on using only the "occult" mythos, while others will only use the "science fiction" mythos. Others will combine facets of both mythos styles, plus adding something entirely their own innovation.
It is interesting to note that you cast your editorial nets out for future Mythos stories now in the works, or for those now pending publication. Does it appear that much more in this vein will be forthcoming in the near future?
Of the five hundred and fifty stories listed in the Reader's Guide, ninety-eight stories haven't seen publication yet, and eighty-nine stories are either in progress or are projected works. So it does look like there will be a lot more in this vein forthcoming. The only problem is where they will be published. Hopefully, they will all see publication within the shortest time possible.
In conclusion, what would you predict as to the future of Cthulhu Mythos fiction?
I would say that the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, and especially those of the Cthulhu Mythos, will continually be entertaining readers long after the tales of the vampire, werewolf, and ghoul. Though the latter stories will still be written by beginning writers (and established writers who think they have a novel idea for their particular story). When the third generation of Cthulhu Mythos writers start to shed the need to follow in the footsteps of H.P. Lovecraft (or Derleth), even obliquely, someone, somewhere, will pick up an old beaten-up paperback collection of Lovecraft and he will say to himself upon completing it, "Man, these are good!" And a little while later this same reader, or one of his contemporaries, will decide to write a story adding to the Cthulhu Mythos -- and that will be the beginning of the fourth generation.
To illustrate from a personal example: A friend of mine, who is in my Arabic class, isn't actually a weird fiction fan. He reads primarily books dealing with the occult, and occasionally reads fiction with occult leanings, such as The Exorcist, The Other, etc. Recently, he decided to do something about my talking about Lovecraft all of the time -- he bough the two-volume set of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (which Ballantine has recently reissued). After he finished the first volume, I asked him how he liked them. His reply was: "These are the best horror stories I have ever read." (A new disciple?)
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Created: February 21, 1997; Current Update: August 12, 2004