Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Charioteer of the Gods

Remember the book Chariots of the god's by Daniken? Ever wonder how he came up with this theory? It seems he took it from a French horror writer!


The idea that extraterrestrials served as humanity's earliest deities came to popular attention with Swiss author Erich von Daniken's 1968 best-seller Chariots of the Gods and the influential 1973 NBC documentary In Search of Ancient Astronauts, based on that book. But for people familiar with the science fiction magazines of the 1940s and 50s, von Daniken's "revolutionary" assertion held more than just a hint of other writings that claimed long before that the gods were not of this world. In fact, much of von Daniken's case perfectly parallels the work of a certain New England writer of horror stories, and the route from horror story to nonfiction best-seller bounces us from America to France to Switzerland.

Providence, Rhode Island author H.P. Lovecraft has been justly hailed as a master of the horror story, and his work claims a place beside Edgar Allan Poe and Steven King in the pantheon of the genre. Born into a wealthy family in 1890, Lovecraft's life was a series of reverses and declines as his family lost their fortune and his parents succumbed to madness. He was precocious and self-taught scholar who read voraciously and devoured as much literature as he could read. He read the novels of H.G. Wells, whose War of the Worlds told of the coming of alien creatures to earth. He also read the eighteenth century Gothic masters of horror, and above all Edgar Allan Poe.

When he set about writing his own works, he began to blend the modern world of science fiction with his favorite tales of Gothic gloom. Lovecraft tried to bring the Gothic tale into the twentieth century, modernizing the trappings of ancient horror for a new century of science. Lovecraft published his work in pulp fiction magazines, notably Weird Tales, though many of his works were not published until after his death in 1937. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, science fiction and horror magazines reprinted Lovecraft's tales numerous times, and he became one of the most popular pulp authors.

No comments: