Making Sense of Lovecraft’s Madness

Humanity, as portrayed in Lovecraft’s fiction, is not only incapable of resisting the impact of racial and hereditary degeneration, but also incapable of maintaining itself ‘properly’ via sexual reproduction, an act that for Lovecraft gives birth to nothing but nightmare. – Brian Lord, “The Genetics of Horror: Sex and Racism in H.P. Lovecraft’s Fiction“, 2004

Most fans of  HP Lovecraft’s writing will concede that as a person, he was a jerk. Racist, misogynistic, anti-sex tendencies appear over and over again in both his published writing and his personal letters. Contemporary authors have struggled to reconcile his vile opinions with his work as the creator and shaper of the Cthulhu Mythos, a universe too much fun to ignore. (Read Nnedi Okorafor’s discussion of the Lovecraft-shaped World Fantasy Award, which she won.) In the first book of the Cthulhurotica series, we talked about the need to create more fiction in his world, in order to show a wider range of characters living and breathing and making love there. But can we really separate the man from his Mythos?

We don’t have to. The simple solution is to realize that Lovecraft was mad, in the classic sense of the word. It just wasn’t the Mythos that made him that way.

Lovecraft was right about his monsters. Cthulhu is out there, sleeping in the darkest depths of in-between space. Innsmouth exists, as does Arkham, if not on our maps than in the maps of thousands of authors and artists and musicians and filmmakers in the last century. Deep Ones float on ice cold currents at the bottom of the sea. Cultists chant, Shoggoths squish, the Black Goat bears a thousand young, the terrible trees lie in wait, and Dagon passes the time on a tiny island you can never find unless you’re trying to get away from it. There is much more to our existence than we can comprehend without a little madness of our own.

But Lovecraft had issues before he ever conceived of that which should not be named. He was already afraid of women, and of people of color, and of the world in general, and of himself. He reached out and saw the Mythos universe looking back at him, and in an effort to understand it, he wrapped it in the fears he already knew. He looked into the unknowable, the creatures and places that drive you insane. It’s genius, really, that he engineered a way to survive that. By convincing himself that the real monsters were girls in short dresses, and Jews (and blacks, and Asians, and gays, and lipstick and nail polish and a pretty smile) he could keep his mind in one piece.

We’re stronger than that. We don’t need to make excuses for our monsters. We don’t need to hide behind lesser fears in order to comprehend the greater ones. We can look upon the Mythos and we can love it for what it is.

Be braver than Lovecraft. Put down your defenses, find the unmarked door, turn the ancient key, and go inside. Bring a date.

Or meet someone there.

– Carrie Cuinn, Editor

Submissions Guidelines for Cthulhurotica 2

What is Erotica?

Erotica [ih-rot-i-kuh] is literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire. It is not pornography, which is understood to have sexual arousal as its main purpose. Erotica includes a sexual aspect but it is only one part of the larger aesthetic. In other words, writing erotica is not about graphic descriptions of people having sex, it’s about making your reader want to have sex. It’s a tease, a flirt, a seduction …

Who is Cthulhu?

H.P. Lovecraft wrote smart, surreal, supernatural horror stories in the early 20th century. Cthulhu is one of several fictional creatures created by Lovecraft in the early 20th century. Lovecraft’s stories, and some of the works of his followers, outline what we now call the “Cthulhu Mythos”. Mythos characters include both the monsters and the men who discovered them.

Cthulhurotica is the place where sex and madness meet.

What are we hoping to get from Volume 2?

We want to expand on the first book, without discarding any of it. The stories from Cthulhurotica are bold, sexy, creepy, empowering and frightening. What we’re looking for now is more … We want stories which use more of Lovecraft’s settings and characters. We’ve got Innsmouth and Arkham, but what about the mountains, the Artic, aboard the Emma? We met Nyarlathotep, the Mi Go, and the King in Yellow, but what about Ithaqua, or the Hounds of Tindalos? Tell us about Charles Dexter Ward’s neighbor, or the secretary in Professor Peaslee’s office.

What if Richard Upton Pickman painted pinup girls too?

There is so much, both in Lovecraft’s work and in the associated Mythos stories by other authors, which hasn’t yet been explored. If you do want to revisit a location or monster from the first book, make sure you do so in a completely new way.

More importantly, we want to see more variations on the human theme. Female main characters, people of color, queer folk, polyamorous families, people with disabilities – if they exist in the real world, they should exist in Lovecraft’s world as well. (Yes, you can still send us a story with a straight, white, upper-middle class male as your main character if you want to.)

Some references which might help:

http://www.hplovecraft.com/creation/whoswho.asp – A Who’s Who of Lovecraft’s characters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu_Mythos – The Cthulhu Mythos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovecraftian_horror – The Style of Lovecraft

What do we want to avoid:

Non-consensual sex, underage characters, slash fiction which features actual people (you can’t use August Derleth as a character in your story if he’s participating in any sex acts), poetry.

What we’re buying:

Stories of up to 4,500 words. Must be original; no reprints, no simultaneous submissions. Worldwide print and ebook rights (exclusive for 6 months, non-exclusive for an additional 30 months).

What we’re paying:

2 cents per word, paid within 90 days after publication. Contributor copy of print and ebook (can choose between .epub or .mobi/Kindle versions).

Submissions open May 1, 2012, and will close at 11:59 EST on July 31, 2012. Please submit your story as a .doc or .odt file. Use 12 pt font, do not insert two spaces at the end of each sentence (one is sufficient), and your story must include your name, address, telephone number, email address, and approximate word count on the first page.

Cthulhurotica Lands on “Best Of” 2011 Reading List

Harry Markov, as part of The Book Smugglers Smugglivus 2011 roundup, lists his 7 favorite books of 2011, and Cthulhurotica made the list! We’re the only anthology listed, and other authors on the list include Kaaren Warren, Jeff Vandermeer, and Diana Wynne Jones. Says Markov,

“It’s rare that you successfully encounter erotica which mixes so well with the speculative genre.”

Read more here.

Buy Cthulhurotica and Get a Chance to Win Books!

Vodka not included.

Author and small press fan Simon C. Larter is hosting a giveaway on his blog. Purchase a copy of Cthulhurotica before 12/15/11, and send him proof of that purchase, and you’re in the running to win:

  • AMERICAN GODS, by Neil Gaiman (signed hardback, 10th Anniversary Edition, mint condition)
  • NEVERWHERE, by Neil Gaiman (paperback, I-read-it condition)
  • GOOD OMENS, by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (paperback, I-read-it condition)
  • SURPRISE RANDOM BOOK FROM MY BOOKSHELVES, by Someone-or-Other (probably paperback, I-read-it condition)

Read more about his contest here.

Cthulhurotica is currently available 3 ways:

344 page, 5″ x 8″ paperback. $13.99 US, plus shipping

ISBN-10 0983137307 (ISBN-13 9780983137306)

KINDLE edition, $3.99

ASIN: B004GKMID2

.EPUB (for Nook, iBooks, and many more!) Instant download, and only $3.99!

ISBN-10 0-9831373-1-5 (ISBN-13 978-0-9831373-1-3)

(Please note: When opening the .epub on a Nook, you need to place it in the “My Documents” section, and not in the “My Library” section.)

New: Request a signature through Kindlegraph!

Do you have a Kindle version of Cthulhurotica? If so, you can get a it “signed” by our editor, Carrie Cuinn, digitally … free! Go to Kindlegraph.com and search for “Cthulhurotica”, or click on this link, and you’ll be able to request a signature. At this time the service is only allowing a single signature per book, but as soon as it opens to multiple authors we’ll try to get as many of our contributors on board as we can.

If you don’t have a Kindle and would still like signature page to go with your ebook, click on the image below to see the larger version, and then save it to your computer.

Or get it as a PDF by right-clicking here and saving the linked file.

Update on Submissions for Cthulhurotica 2

Due to a change in the 2012 publishing schedule at Dagan Books, our open submissions period for the second book in this series will begin at noon EST on May 1, 2012, and go through July 31, 2012. This will allow us to have the book available for purchase at the end of 2012.

“This Book and I Could Be Friends” reviews Cthulhurotica

The opening piece, Gabrielle Harbowy’s “Descent of the Wayward Sister,” does a great job setting the tone for the rest, turning Lovecraft on his head by centering on a bold female character who greets the monstrous with open arms (literally). An unapologetic thief and prostitute, she’s a rule-breaker on the margins of Victorian society already, as opposed to some stuffy New England aristocrat. Don Pizarro’s “The C-Word,” on the other hand, is a quiet modern tale of two lovers, a young man and a woman seventeen years his senior. Except she lives in Innsmouth, which adds another layer to the issues of aging and physical change that have caused her to push him away.

Plus the reviewer gives “thumbs up” to the idea of Cthulhurotica 2!

Read more at This Book and I Could Be Friends

New Reviews

We’ve updated the Press and Reviews page to include two great new reviews:

October 5, 2011 – “The stories range from creepy to cute to downright arousing, touching on all ranges of attraction.” A Book Hunter’s Journal

September 1, 2011 – “The real draw for me was the way the stories approached existing characters and settings from a whole new vantage point.” Wag the Fox

Over and over again, we hear that people weren’t sure what to make of the book until they read it, and then they fell in love. If you’re reviewed Cthulhurotica but we don’t have you listed, let us know!

Cthulhurotica 2 – Coming Soon!

Thanks to the success of Cthulhurotica and the support of its readers, we have decided to go ahead with plans to produce a second volume. This will be an open anthology, though we hope to invite back some of our favorite authors from the first book.

Submissions will open later this year, and there will be plenty of news and ideas posted here before then. If you think you might want to submit, but haven’t read Cthulhurotica yet, please pick up a copy today! Our 344 page paperback is only $13.99, available here from Amazon. Both the Kindle and .epub versions of the book are still only $3.99. Get yours today!