Continuing our Pulp Spotlight series, I’m going to look at one of the most iconic authors of Pulp Fiction—and certainly of Weird Tales—H. P. Lovecraft. He’s a pop culture favorite (and definitely well-loved here at
Continuing our Pulp Spotlight series, I’m going to look at one of the most iconic authors of Pulp Fiction—and certainly of Weird Tales—H. P. Lovecraft. He’s a pop culture favorite (and definitely well-loved here at New Pulp Tales) so of course you were going to see him on this list (and should expect to see him pop up again repeatedly in the future).
While there is a host of excellent works to choose from, I decided to make this first Lovecraft spotlight about one of his earliest stories, The Beast in the Cave. Written between 1904 and 1905, while Lovecraft was only 14 years old, The Beast in the Cave wasn’t published until 1918. It first appeared in the June issue of The Vagrant.
Now on to the story itself. Some spoilers ahead, continue at your own peril.
The Beast in the Cave tells the story of a man who’s become lost during a guided tour of Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Alone in the dark, the man tries calling for help, but instead of the tour guide, his shouts draw the attention of a mysterious creature which has also become trapped in the cave. One of the great strengths of this story is the way in which Lovecraft takes his character from stating: “I derived no small measure of satisfaction from my unimpassioned demeanor” at the beginning of the story to pure panic by the end with the line: “And then I shouted, yelled, screamed, even shrieked.” That’s without mentioning that virtually all of this story occurs within a setting so pitch-black that sight is useless. The terror comes in part from being trapped within the mind of the character. As in a number of Lovecraft’s other stories, the protagonist of The Beast in the Cave uses scientific thinking to try and explain the horror as best he can.
While not the best of Lovecraft’s works (Were you doing your best work at 14?), The Beast in the Cave is a fun read and a very interesting look at the stylistic roots of his more famous pieces. If you’re a fan of H.P. Lovecraft or Weird Fiction in general, this is definitely a story worth checking out.