“Have you lost your collective mind?”
This is how we envision you, our Loyal Reader, responding once you discover the theme for this issue. Never mind that we didn’t set out to assemble a Lovecraft-themed issue. Never mind that Stephen King described Lovecraft as “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” Never mind that Lovecraft employed the word “truth” in his work with the precision of a left-handed dental drill (e.g. “the black truth veiled by the immemorial allegory of Tao”).
“But isn’t a Lovecraft theme?…” You pause. Dare you voice an opinion on this matter? But then you remember THE REVELATOR’s own words, first coined in a letter to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy just prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and subsequently immortalized on a porcelain plate from the Franklin Mint: “A group is represented by its lowest common denominator, but an individual has only him or herself to blame.” THE REVELATOR has always prized the opinions of its readers, each and every one representing the best this country has to offer.
And so you — oh Loyal Reader! — continue: “But isn’t a Lovecraft-themed issue the last ditch attempt of a morally and penuriously bankrupt magazine to bolster it subscription base? Isn’t this what a magazine will resort to once it has lost all credibility in the marketplace? Can exhuming Lovecraft truly resuscitate a moribund creation, as if every destitute editor took to heart the words, ‘That is not dead which can eternal lie…’?”
You catch yourself. You know that that THE REVELATOR, given its time-honored tradition and seven-continent spanning readership, not to mention readers on the International Space Station and unacknowledged Lunar Base Delta, need never stoop so low. “But appearances of impropriety are often as significant as impropriety itself,” you warn. “What could possibly inspire you to produce a Lovecraft-themed issue?”
Better to ask, “How could we not?”
Many years ago, one of our editors (he was always a sensitive child) awoke from disturbing dreams and in his grade-school art class, rather than mold a simple mug from clay, created the hideous sculpture of a bloated frog-like creature. The school nurse confirmed that this creature was the spitting image of Byatis, Tsathoggua, or perhaps Nyarlathotep, in one of his thousand forms. When asked by the Principal what he hoped to accomplish with his idolatrous creation, our young editor replied, “Grow moss on it,” an enterprise that might have resulted in a lucrative Great Old Ones Chia Pet franchise if nurtured but, lacking this, culminated in the heartbreak typical to much youthful passion.
Meanwhile, our other editor (the even more sensitive one), first encountered Lovecraft’s works in a fur-encrusted limited edition of The Dunwich Horror and Others given to him by Crazy Aunt Henrietta in the later hours of the Reagan Republic. The book had held a place of honor in her home, supplanting even her cherished autographed copy of The Sugar Cane by James Grainger and the collected poetry of Amanda McKittrick Ros. She presented it to her nephew as a tool with which to survive the coming years and, she was certain, impending apocalypse. Himself given to dark and dire expectations of future events, Young Even More Sensitive One was struck dumb by the quality of Lovecraft’s prose, and for two months refused to speak, knowing he shared a language with an author of such unique talents. His family continues to remember that time as The Silence of the Young One, a time they recall with fondness and sweet nostalgia.
Skip ahead a few decades, by which time both editors resided in New Hampshire, and the events set in motion so long ago began to coalesce with alarming speed. On August 28, 2011, Hurricane Irene struck New England, the resulting devastation recalling the Great Flood of 1928 that had inspired Lovecraft’s story, “The Whisperer in Darkness.” Then, almost as if preordained, the Lovecraft’s Society’s first full-length film, no less than “The Whisperer in Darkness” itself was released and made its Vermont debut as part of a fund-raiser for flood relief. The miniature models used in the movie were deposited with the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, and we are proud to include photo-documentation of these amazing creations in our Arts section.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Not by a long shot. Earlier this year at Readercon, Nick Mamatas, himself a former resident of Brattleboro, revealed to us one of his most prized possessions, a postcard so valuable that he refused to part with it even in exchange for the cremated remains of Shirley Jackson. This postcard contains a remarkable correspondence between old Ech-Pi-El and a fan, a previously unpublished interview that we are pleased to share with you.
Then there were the stories from Laird Barron and Meghan McCarron. And the unsolicited letter we received from Emily Duchamp. And the aquatic spelunking of Brian Francis Slattery, and “In Providence” by Sonya Taafe, and artwork from Adam Blue, and…
Well you get the picture. The spirit of Lovecraft infuses this issue in ways we never could have anticipated. Sometimes the Lovecraftian link is obvious, sometimes subtle, sometimes serving as inspiration, sometimes as something to rebel against. In short, we had no choice as to our theme. Appearances be damned!
Matthew Cheney & Eric Schaller