Whimsy in Modern Cosmic Horror Literature
As we continue our exploration of the whimsical side of cosmic horror, we turn our attention to contemporary authors. These writers, while drawing inspiration from Lovecraft's foundational work, bring their unique perspectives and sensibilities to the genre. One way they do this is by incorporating elements of humor and whimsy into their stories, providing a counterbalance to the existential dread that characterizes cosmic horror.
John Dies at the End by David Wong
David Wong's "John Dies at the End" is a prime example of modern cosmic horror that effectively uses humor. The novel is filled with bizarre, Lovecraftian horrors, but it's also genuinely funny. The humor comes from the characters' reactions to the absurd and terrifying situations they find themselves in. They face the cosmic horror with a mix of fear, confusion, and irreverent humor, which not only makes for an entertaining read but also makes the characters more relatable and human.
Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
"Welcome to Night Vale," a podcast turned book series, presents a town where all the conspiracy theories are true, and Lovecraftian horrors are just a part of daily life. The humor in "Welcome to Night Vale" comes from the juxtaposition of the mundane and the bizarre. The citizens of Night Vale go about their daily lives, unfazed by the strange happenings around them, and this nonchalant acceptance of the weird and horrifying is both funny and oddly endearing.
Charles Stross's Laundry Files Series
Charles Stross's Laundry Files series, a personal favourite, combines cosmic horror with spy thriller tropes and a healthy dose of workplace humor. The series follows Bob Howard, a tech support guy turned field agent for a secret government agency dealing with Lovecraftian threats. The humor in the series comes from the clash between the banality of bureaucracy and the existential terror of cosmic horror.
These works show that humor can coexist with cosmic horror, and in fact, can enhance it. The humor humanizes the characters, making their reactions to the cosmic horror more relatable. It also provides a moment of respite, allowing the reader to catch their breath before the next wave of dread hits.
In our next post, we'll explore how this balance of fear and humor plays out in film and television. Stay tuned!