Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Life & Times of President HP Lovecraft

Found this interesting review by John J. Reilly of an alternate history book called the Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad about Hitler not rising to power & instead coming to America, where his brief involvement with extremist politics is just a footnote & he begins to illustrate & then write pulp science-fiction. This book then prompts Reilly's idea of Lovecraft as potential American Hitler. Interesting idea to think about for certain. Have at it. I think i'll hunt down a copy of the Iron Dream for myself & present us with a review in the near future.

"Some years ago, I read a novel with the title, The Iron Dream, which purported to be science fiction written by Adolf Hitler in an alternative history (who the actual author was I do not remember). In this history, there was a Communist coup in Germany in the early 1920s, and Hitler became just another exile. (His brief involvement in reactionary politics was not worth mentioning.) He settled in the United States, where he became a commercial illustrator for pulp magazines. He took to writing for the pulps as his English improved, eventually attracting a small literary cult. He charming Viennese manners made him the star of science fiction conventions. His major novel, The Iron Dream, dealt with a political movement in a post-apocalyptic world. The movement was dedicated to cleansing the gene-pool of mutations and destroying the great mutant empire in the East. While some people detected anti-Semitic undertones in the book, Hitler's defenders noted that many of his best friends were Jewish. After his death, his stories were frequently reprinted in paperback editions, often using his own illustrations.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) has a biography one might expect of a failed Hitler. Lovecraft has suffered from more than his share of posthumous Freudian analysis, but it is true that his family history (father dying while Lovecraft was young, over- protective mother) is similar to Hitler's. Both their childhoods' were prologues to some some similar life-long characteristics. Lovecraft, like Hitler, was a marginal artist. He was a better writer than Hitler was a painter, though that is not saying much. Both were very briefly married, Hitler for just a few hours, Lovecraft for a few months. Both were interested in the occult to some degree. Certainly both Nazism and Lovecraft's fiction owe a great deal to Theosophy. (Lovecraft claimed to be a sceptic. Hitler was affected by ideas of this type, though he was not a believer to the extent that Himmler and Hess were.) Both were racist Social Darwinists of the sort who viewed history as primarily determined by racial factors. Both were hypochondriacs who repeatedly forecast their early deaths. Lovecraft, whose neurasthenia kept him out of the First World War, turned out to be right. In person, both were rather shy and formal, not hard to like. Hitler loved dogs, Lovecraft loved cats."

Professor Daniel Shoup speculates that all archeology is a form of science-fiction in that it involves piecing together a story from details, but it is all speculative. The only difference is that in archaeology, the focus tends towards the past, while in science-fiction, the tendency is towards the future.

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