“Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability.” – HP Lovecraft
In the history of science fiction, HP Lovecraft was a vanguard in the creation of cosmic horror. Many of his works appealed to humanity’s muddled conception of the vast size of the universe, coupled with our ignorance of its contents. His stories often told of scientifically driven characters stumbling upon forbidden knowledge, that which would be beyond comprehension, ultimately leading to psychological degradation. These characters, on their quest for knowledge, often discover malignity veiled in the depths of the ocean, other dimensions, or out of space.
This is somewhat a reflection of humans’ surprisingly limited perception of their environment. For instance, take our sense of sight. While it seems that we live in a colorful world, painted with colors from red to blue, our eyes can really only perceive a small sliver of the range of visible light on the electromagnetic spectrum. There is so much that we do not see, from ultra-violet light to radio waves, that which could perhaps contain some type of scientific, or maybe terrifying, epiphany.
It is this notion that inspired HP Lovecraft to write his short story titled The Color out of Space, in March of 1927. Exhausted from common depictions of alien life that resembled a human more than anything else, HP Lovecraft sought to create an entity that was truly “alien,” even alien to our senses. His creation manifested itself as color, an unfamiliar color, one that does not exist on our planet and somehow is alive. Many agree that Lovecraft was truly able to create something that was entirely outside of human experience in this story.
Without giving away too much, the story tells of an unnamed narrator’s discussion with an elderly investigator about an area known as the “blasted heath” in the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts. The investigator, Ammi, seems deeply troubled from his experience there, and the narrator is able to piece together a tale of an extraterrestrial encounter which brought blight to the blasted heath and a terror rooted in the characters’ incomprehension of the alien color. Becoming one of Lovecraft’s most popular works, it also remained his personal favorite of his short stories.
What we have prepared for you is a dramatic reading of The Color out of Space, by H.P. Lovecraft. We feel that this story is the quintessential synthesis of color and horror. So please sit back and enjoy The Color out of Space.
This was recorded and produced by UWEC student, Nathan Baughman, in the brand new Podcast Lab in the McIntyre Library on the UWEC campus.
Read by Reilly Othoudt, Connor Feltman, Heather Weise, and Francene Hathaway