“That is not dead which can eternal lie, yet with stranger eons, even death may die.”
The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, also known as the HPPodcraft, is a labor of love by dedicated fans. A regular on my daily commute, this series delves into the works of Lovecraft starting from his first published story and going all the way through his career.
Hosted by Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer, each episode contains an analysis of one of Lovecraft’s stories. They also delve into the history of the stories and the man who wrote them, giving context to them based on events in Lovecraft’s life and how the works relate to each other. Though there is no single continuity to Lovecraft’s work the analysis of the stories does reveal interesting progressions in how the mythos developed. I’m well versed in Lovecraft but I have never read the stories in any particular order and I was fascinated to see the patterns, both stylistically and in content.
The podcast goes beyond the stories, giving us a look at Lovecraft’s life and motivations. They discuss his early life and career as well as his final years when his fortunes and health declined. They discuss his friendships and dip into his correspondences with other writers, such as Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard, among many others. Lovecraft was a prolific writer of letters and a large collection of them survive, allowing us to see into the community of weird fiction authors from his era.
Lackey and Fifer also delve into the collaborative and ghost written works that Lovecraft wrote. These I found particularly interesting, as I only recently discovered most of them. These include the infamous story Medusa’s Coil which he collaborated on with Zealia Bishop. Lovecraft is rightfully known for his racist and classist beliefs, particularly in his younger days, and nowhere is it more pointed than in this story.
Which is another thing I appreciate about the podcast. They do not shy away from the controversies of Lovecraft’s life, nor do they harp on them. There is plenty of celebration of Lovecraft’s great works and vision, but they are also able to honestly criticize his mediocre works, though at times they fall into nitpicking in the name of humor.
That humor would be my one criticism for the show. It is often forced and over-done and detracts from the whole. This is particularly true for the early episodes, enough that I suggest a first time listener to start with a few later podcasts from when the show’s format has settled down and they have more experience. Then go back and listen to the early podcasts once you’ve already become a fan.
Each episode also features segments of the stories being read aloud, for which they used a wide variety of readers. The readers are all talented and these segments are gold, leaving you wanting more. Fortunately for us they also did full readings of several stories, including readings of The Call of Cthuhlhu and The Haunter in the Dark that are spectacular and should be mandatory listening for any fan.
Sadly, all things must come to an end, and Lovecraft’s body of work is no exception. Although they completed his library the podcast continues. It now features original content in a mix of free and subscription based offerings. I did not stay with the series for very long after they completed Lovecraft’s work, because it was the author’s work and history that I was interested in.
The entire show’s archive, including the full readings, is freely available on their website. Whether you are a veteran fan or recent discoverer of H.P. Lovecraft’s work, you’ll enjoy the series.