Fallen London and Lovecraft

In the last month or so, there have been many mentions of Lovecraft in the descriptions of the atmosphere of Sunless Sea, which I find quite curious… and misleading. But that prompts me to ask: do you think the world of Fallen London is &quotLovecraftian&quot in any sense?

Simply put, I think it isn’t. I can even see more Chesterton than Lovecraft in it. I am not a specialist in either of them, and I am not even a PoSI in FL, so there is a chance that I’m missing some important plot elements here, but from everything I’ve seen so far, I’m quite certain that their connection is rather superficial.

With Lovecraft I associate first and foremost a certain type of hopeless madness and despair (and not squids!) which I don’t find in Failbetter’s games. There are cosmic forces there that are far beyond the powers of man, but so what? The whole history of fiction is full of them, and I certainly can’t imagine Lovecraft writing about love and passion.

This article gives a fine introduction on the nature of Lovecraftian horror. So, what do you fellow Fallen Londoners think?
edited by Ridiculus Undarke on 5/20/2014

I would not describe Fallen London’s setting as &quotlovecraftian&quot, though the Rubbery Men lore seems like an affectionate reference (from the Cthulhu-like features of the Rubbery themselves to the discoveries about their origin). The setting did take a turn for the cosmic despair with some of this Hallowmas’ Destinies, but that’s still far from the grim, all-encompassing Lovecraftian cosmic horror. All in all, I’d say Fallen London is Fallen Londonian (London-y?), and just that ^^

[color=#009900]Authorial authority is not infallible, but this interview reflects my current opinion (ctrl-F ‘Lovecraft’)[/color]


[color=#009900]Chesterton, however, is bang on.[/color]

[color=#009900]I’d add that Sunless Sea is a little more Lovecraftian. It’s bleaker, and less funny. Also, giant tentacle monsters in the sea.[/color][li]

Thank you, Alexis. Interviews like that one are a real treat to read.

But I must add that “giant tentacle monsters in the sea” still reminds me more of Jules Verne… It still depends on how the protagonist can react to it. Can we fight it with even the slightest hope of victory? Can we actually defeat it? Time will tell.

Let’s not forget that Cthulu itself was defeated when a ship rammed into its head, knocking it out.

FL and SS do have the ever-increasing threat of Madness, things in the well, the Name, secret rituals held on coastal towns to distant and terrifying gods; so like any good story big enough, it has chapters of Lovecraftian horror but balances it with lighter adventures.

I briefly surmised that Lovecraft might be the Fidgeting Writer, but of course the timeline is off by about 20 years, so that can’t actually be the case.

I found that the real madness and despair stuff really kicks in after becoming PoSI and getting a view of the larger picture and some of the destinies. Fallen London also plays with a larger variety of Lovecraftian themes than most, such as the ones Lily Fox indicated. I’d also say that the honeydreams and the nature of Parabola tie in with Lovecraft’s dream-quest stuff. Also, stone pigs.

What do they say? [quote=]In the deepest matters of the Bazaar, always look to love. Always.[/quote] This is so anti-Lovecraftian that I think there is even no need to explain the difference.

Also, dream-quests are not something related specifically to Lovecraft. Many writers of the time period used them. If I must label them with a name, I would rather say &quotDunsanian&quot.

But, it is obviously impossible for a work of this size and scope, which is furthermore vaguely set in a similar time period, and is deeply Gothic in nature, not to be compared with Lovecraft’s work. The same applies to high fantasy and Tolkien. The closest FL and Lovecraft come together, I think, is in Seeking the Name…
edited by Ridiculus Undarke on 6/4/2014
edited by Ridiculus Undarke on 6/4/2014

Lovecraft created a world full of distant, bizarre and terrifying creatures, whose very existence was antithetical to our understanding of the universe, and who where so much greater and more ancient than us that they were barely aware we were here… reflecting his fear of foreign cultures.

Fallen London is a world of distant, bizarre and terrifying creatures whose very existence defines our understanding of the universe, and who, despite being so much greater and more ancient than us, seem to want something from us, and are prepared to cajole, deceive, manipulate or do violence to us to get it. And which resemble governments so explicitly that we can assume the comparison is thoroughly deliberate and rational.

They’re both cosmic horror involving tentacl’d monstrosities, seaside cults, indescribable sights and what have you, but they approach the genre from completely opposite directions.

That, sir, is a wonderfully accurate description!

I agree for the most part that they take very different approaches, but I do think there’s something lovecraftian in the correspondence, and in Seeking. Doing something out of curiosity that becomes an obsession, that you know will ultimately drive you mad/be your undoing but doing it anyway.

I do as well even just a hint and hey is there anything wrong with that :)

[/li][li]Sunless Sea has legitimately made me laugh out loud on a number of occasions. I remember when delivering my first Copper Long box I had an uproarious laugh. It’s also had me legitimately creeped out a bit, like when I first met The Lady in Lilac[/li]