Should Writers Invite Controversy?

No, it’s not the North Korean flag.
Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Specifically, I’m talking about stuff that happens outside one’s body of work. I personally think that no writers should censor themselves in their works; works alone need to stand and fall on their own merits. This makes me a little hypocritical – I have a bad habit of cutting out material in my writing that I think people might not like for silly reasons. Still, what I inflict on myself isn’t anything I’d like to inflict on others.

What I’m driving at is something related to other forms of mass media, like with celebrities and famous YouTubers. Saying or doing something that will drive people up the wall is a popular way of generating revenue these days; just ask Logan Paul or Cambridge Analytica. In an environment where everybody’s shouting, it seems like more extremism is needed to get anyone’s attention. Should this be a valid way for anyone to generate followers or readers?

The part of me that wants to live off my writing says it’s becoming more necessary by the day. Granted, sometimes a cat video will go viral, but nobody cares about the people that film them. Instead, we find out about people who train their dogs to be Nazis or use Twitter to lie. If I could get one angry tweet from the President of the United States, I’d have followers in spades.

Despite having opinions that people might find wildly agreeable or disagreeable, I am uncomfortable with expressing them just for the sake of gaining attention. Where I live (in the southern U.S.), saying women should have the ability to dress as they please could earn me some angry looks. And vocally expressing support for anyone but a Republican could get me some evil glares at best. Is this worth it just to get attention?

There isn’t a good answer here, for me at least. I don’t want to add to the climate of scare tactics that seems to prevail in more places these days. That said, I also don’t want to look for excuses to silence myself.


Farewell, Stephen Hawking

Image credit: NASA.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Today I learned of the passing of one of the most iconic physicists and authors in modern history: Dr. Stephen Hawking.

I’d heard about Dr. Hawking in popular culture references for years before I had to read his book, A Brief History of Time, for an astronomy class. When I first opened it, I was immediately surprised by the fact that it was unlike any other text concerning physics or astronomy that I’d ever read. Physicist authors that I’d been forced to read in the past didn’t really write in a straightforward manner, or their ideas were too lofty for me to fully grasp. But here was a guy who joked about black holes and appeared very candid about his ideas.

It’s the ruler by which I’ve measured all other information about science. The field doesn’t matter; complex ideas can be explained well enough for a curmudgeon like me to understand them. I don’t want to build rockets that launch people into space, but I do want to have a basic understanding of how difficult that is. Dr. Hawking is one of the few scientists who has been able to do his field of study the service of public enlightenment.

After reading his book, I learned that science gets at truths which exist no matter how easy or difficult it is to grab them. Atoms behave in specific ways under specific conditions. The circumference of a circle has a defined relationship to its radius. Although it’s not always clear, humanity learns something new when a human learns something new. For that reason, Dr. Hawking is a titan among intellectual giants.

Despite his passing, I am comforted by the fact that he has left a respectable body of work behind. I hope that it will continue to enlighten people as it has enlightened me.

The Sky Princess, Part One

Photo credit: Suzanne Flynn.

Author’s Note: Here’s the first part of the story I wrote for a short story anthology published by my local public library. You can purchase the anthology here. All proceeds go to the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library. This story has been reformatted for easier reading on this blog.

Gravat Miller was no longer a soldier in His Majesty’s Prestorian Army. For twenty long years, he did everything his superiors ever asked of him without complaint or delay. Now, he wandered the streets of Kenton alone in civilian clothing, unsure of what he was going to do with the rest of his life.

With four silver lilies to his name – he already spent one on a coach from the barracks – he tried thinking of what work he could get at his age. In the city, everyone of his social standing usually worked in a factory or on the steam machines. It took a lifetime to learn how to do it well, though, and Gravat spent his life on different pursuits. He’d be lucky if he could get work mopping the floors of a grease locker or a coal room.

Above, sky ship engines buzzed all around, ferrying passenger liners into the nearby aerodrome. The old sergeant looked up at one, considering life in some foreign land. Kaiser Sturmhard in Schweiberia had a regiment of foreigners, and Princess Daphne in Chantali had a reputable foreign legion. He almost turned a shoe towards the aerodrome when he realized he might be called upon to fight his old friends. Some of them might understand, but Gravat knew he couldn’t bring himself to fire upon old comrades in arms.

Across the street, Gravat heard a piano belting out rags. The sound came from a drinking den that looked like it had been maintained by the patrons too drunk to hold a hammer. Smoke billowed out the front entryway in a gray sheet, and every conversation occurred at maximum volume. Over the door, a sign read, “The Journeyman’s Rest.” Waiting for a couple of steam cars to pass by, Gravat crossed the road and decided to check the place out.

Inside, was pure chaos. Over in one corner, he saw fights, gambling, and fights over gambling. In another, he found a team of engineers wrestling with an automaton, the latter spinning wildly enough to break a table and all the glasses on it. Above the fray, a woman in a green dress swung perilously from a chandelier, drinking from a mug and singing along to the music coming from the piano. Gravat sighed heavily, wondering if this was the company he’d have to keep in his abrupt retirement. He walked through the den to the bar, pausing twice to let brawlers pass, and flashed a lily at the barkeep. “A mug of your finest,” he said, using the term loosely.

“You could buy the whole place a round for that,” said the keep, a man about as round in the belly as he was tall.
Gravat imagined this wasn’t a place that made change for silver. “Of course, that’s what I meant.”

Pointing at the sergeant, the barkeep shouted, “Listen up! This guy just bought the house a round!” Some people cheered, others cussed in appreciation, but nobody stopped what they were doing. The barkeep took the soaking rag from his shoulder and wiped a mug with it. He waddled over to a tap and opened it up, filling the glass all the way to the top. Setting it down on the bar, he slid it over to Gravat.

Turning around, Gravat took a sip of the brew, which had a kick more fierce than his rifle. He braced himself for another sip when the music from the piano stopped. Everything else stopped too, including the woman on the chandelier, who jumped down without spilling a drop of her drink. “Not you again! That was my favorite song!” she protested, glaring at a woman standing next to the piano.

“Give me one minute of your time, and I’ll be happy to let you return to it,” she said, dropping an electric cord on the floor.

The rest of the bar let out a collective groan. “My name is Betsy Rikert,” she began.

“We know!” shouted the bar, everyone rolling their eyes in perfect unison.

Betsy ignored them. “I represent Gertrude Allaine, of the Allaine Steamship Company. If you are brave of heart, bold in spirit, and relatively sound of mind, then I have a job for you. It’s a dangerous task, but you’ll be well compensated.”

“Oh, go find someone else to do your dirty work,” said an engineer, pinned to the ground by his automaton. “Or at least explain why nobody ever comes back after you hire them.”

“I’d like to hear her out,” said Gravat. He considered the woman across the den. She dressed like a corporate lackey, wearing a decent woolen suit and a starched collar that hadn’t frayed. Gravat got off the bar and walked up to her. “How much?”

“I am afraid such a tranzaction is illegal,” said a deep voice at the den’s entrance. It belonged to a man wearing dark goggles and a gray coverall stuffed into heavy boots and thick gloves. Five other people in matching attire flanked him on both sides. “Mizz Rikert is an enemy of ze Confederacy, and she shall haf to come vis us.” They all brought out steam pistols from their coveralls, aiming them at Gravat and his would-be employer.

“My word, this escalated quickly,” said Gravat. He asked Betsy, “Why do I have guns pointed at me?”

“The Kesperrian government has a misunderstanding with my employer,” she explained.

“Zis is no misunderstandink,” said the spy, changing his aim to Betsy. “Ve vill not allow you to shteel ze Sky Princess.”

The entire audience in the den said, “The Sky Princess?”

Gravat sighed. “What’s a ‘sky princess’?” he asked.

“You haven’t heard of her?” an engineer asked. “She’s only the fastest and best armed sky ship ever built by Prestorian hands.”

“Zis is a lie!” shouted the Kesperrian agent.

Gravat scratched his head. “I take it your employer built this thing, and now wants it back?”

Betsy nodded eagerly. “Right. My employer built it. Exactly. The rest of it is a long story.”

“The Kesperrians have always been enemies of Prestoria,” said Gravat. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they stole it first.”

The spy waved his pistol at the pair. “Hello? I haf a pishtol, and I’m villink to use it!”

“One moment,” said Betsy and Gravat.

“Look,” said Betsy, “I can tell you that you’re completely right. The dastardly Kesperrians stole the ship, and we need to recover it. I really could use the help from a military man such as yourself.”

“Who said I was in the military?” asked Gravat.

“It’s ze hair,” said the spy.

“You also have perfect posture,” said the chandelier woman. Several engineers and the automaton nodded in agreement.
Outside, Gravat heard shouting followed by heavy footsteps. Five people exploded through the entrance, right into the spies. Everyone fell to the ground in a giant tangled mess. A woman with light brown hair that resembled a bird’s nest popped up out of the pile. She looked at Gravat and said, “Is this West Bremerheim?”

“No,” said Gravat, fearing he’d reached his limit for strange things happening to him in one day. “You’re in Kenton.” The woman just blinked. He added, “The capital of the Kingdom of Prestoria.”

She looked crestfallen. “It should have worked this time. Perhaps I need to readjust the coefficient of reality.”

A nasal voice squeaked from inside the pile. “Ginny, of course it didn’t work! I told you so, but nobody listens to me!”

“Oh, calm down, Flannigan,” said another man, poking his head out from between a spy’s boots. He freed an arm and fished around in the pile, pulling his friend out by the collar. “See? We just ran into some new people. Looks like we’re in a public house!”

“The Journeyman’s Rest,” Gravat added. “The beer’s not too bad.”

Flannigan and a couple of spies erupted from the pile as a large man bounced up. He let out a thunderous belch which shook the windows and knocked his top hat askew. “I’ll be the judge of that!” he bellowed.

Outside, Gravat heard a faint sound of whistles and shouting. He strained to listen, but the nearby commotion grabbed his attention again. The large man had mostly undone the human pile, revealing the last of the five new arrivals. It was a woman wearing a heavy brown overcoat and thick, shaded engineer’s goggles. She climbed to her feet and dusted herself off. “I’m afraid there’s no time for a beer, Jim,” she said, slapping the rotund man on the arm. Searching she found the other man that lifted out Flannigan. “Isak, we need to get going.” She looked right at Gravat. “Does this establishment have a rear exit by any chance?”

“I actually haven’t been here long enough to find out, let alone finish my beer,” said the sergeant.

Jim walked up to Gravat and took the mug gently from his hand. “It will be my honor to help you,” he said, his breath almost wilting the old veteran.

“That sounds like the police outside,” said Betsy, looking through the door nervously.

“Is that a steam pistol?” asked Isak, taking one from an unconscious spy. “How quaint! Where’s the boiler? Is it pocket-sized? A backpack? Belt clip?”

“Focus!” said the engineer. She turned to Betsy. “What exactly did we interrupt here?”

The corporate representative eyed the door. “I feel like I should be asking you that.”

“Don’t change the subject,” the engineer replied.

“Ms. Rikert and I were going to recover the Sky Princess from the clutches of the Kesperrian government. You and your associates subdued some of their agents just now,” Gravat explained. “Thank you for your rescue.”

“You’re after the Sky Princess?” said the engineer. She licked her lips. “I’d like to get my hands on that fine piece of engineering.”

“Does that mean you would like to help?” asked Gravat.

The engineer and most of her friends nodded enthusiastically. Flannigan looked like he just ate a lemon. “While the guy seems nice, I’m not sure I trust her-”

“Don’t impose on them,” said Betsy, grabbing Gravat’s arm. “It should only take the two of us.”

“I’ll split my salary with them,” Gravat said. “If this is really a matter of domestic security, I should like to bring a team with me.”

Light from the police’s electric lanterns illuminated the building across the street. Betsy looked at it and said, “Sure, fine, you’re all hired. Let’s get going, shall we?”

“Splendid!” shouted the engineer. “Felicity DuBois, at your service!” One of the police rounded the building, and pointed at the den. He let out a loud whistle. She said, “Full introductions can be made later.”

“Naturally,” said Betsy, who directed them to the den’s back exit. They all ran out, except for Jim, who paused for a refill of his mug.

Written Stories Are Not RPG Stories

Image is in the public domain. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Seeing the proliferation of tabletop roleplaying games (“RPGs”) on video and podcasts had got me thinking about my own time playing them. There’s a lot of similarities between story structures in written fiction and in tabletop games. People who run games often have to create the story that the characters in the game will reveal through their actions. In fact, most of my early interest in writing fiction came from having to create stories for my gaming group.

But they’re not fully interchangeable.
I learned this the hard way. Tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons or Call of Cthulhu are meant to have players interact with an adventure many times before it’s finished. There can be interesting fights atop castles pummeled by a maelstrom, investigations into the occult hidden in rural jungles, and interactions with non-player characters that are only limited by the imagination. The best games involve choice that is meaningful and relevant to the players.

Written stories don’t have that level of interaction. This means it’s not the same animal as an RPG story. Writers get to pick everything that happens, and nobody else can change the action once it’s written down. Thus, an RPG is like an expedition into a story, while written fiction is like a guided tour.

It’s important to remember whatever the goal of your writing.
I could say this generally of most writing. Different media get written in different formats. They all have a story, but it all comes out in a different manner. Here, I’m picking on RPG stories because I’ve seen a lot of good ones fall flat on a tabletop. And sometimes, some really bad stories get traction with players despite being disappointing when first imagined.

That’s because RPG stories are more of a collaboration between audience and storyteller than in other media. Only theater can come close, but even that has a script. RPGs have no rules in that regard, so anything can happen.

Remembering these choices is critical to writing a good game for your group. Even if your players don’t fight that ruler from the first plane of Hell that you carefully hid in the king’s basement, you can still have a good time when your characters developed that odd love quadrangle because they drank the wrong love potions. Don’t be afraid to let people take the game in interesting directions.

Especially if it involves love potions.

It’s Good to be Busy

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Today’s been spent doing a lot of writing and planning for an upcoming story, about novella length, that I want to publish here on a monthly basis. While that’s been going on, I forgot that today was Wednesday. Sometimes I really do lose track of time. Fortunately I didn’t wake up in any strange places afterwards.

I digress. Of course, doing an impromptu post like this isn’t a fully comfortable experience. Ever since I wrote my first book that I never published, I’ve become more of a fan of planning the story. And by “become more of a fan,” I mean “have been tasered by necessity.” Sometimes I need a map to avoid getting lost, and unlike the real world, there’s no one to ask for directions.

So this is basically some stream of consciousness offered as an excuse for why I don’t have something else today. But I’m okay with it, because it means I’ve been busy writing. It’s a good problem to have, and I hope other people I know here will get the chance to experience it too.

Flash Fiction: The Love Grinch

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Author’s Note: Here’s a little something I whipped up for Valentine’s Day. Since love is in the air, some of it landed in this story – in the most backhanded of ways. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Jim didn’t believe in love. It didn’t exist, couldn’t be measured, and certainly wasn’t quantifiable. He couldn’t eat it, spend it, or do anything with it. Worse, it made people stupid, the kind of dumb that causes social decay and general unrest. If he was tyrant for a day, he’d make it illegal.

He didn’t even believe in love in the most general terms. People would say they love candy, but really they just want to have something sweet. Everyone kept misusing the word for all kinds of silly reasons. Might as well just get rid of the English language while they’re at it, he’d complain to anyone who’d listen.

But if Jim wasn’t supportive of love as an idea or as a vocabulary word, he positively loathed February 14th. Out of 365 days in the year, the middle of February was his least favorite. Everyone around him would get into a mass hysteria, wear red, and go on tour with grotesque displays of public affection. Couples holding hands in public were bad enough; Valentine’s Day made them unbearable.

On the walk home from work that day, Jim counted no fewer than forty separate couples strolling happily hand-in-hand, hugging, or whispering sweet nothings to each other. All the stores in the local shops had their windows plastered with hearts and roses and chocolates. One shopkeeper smiled and offered him a free sample, but Jim’s look of contempt made her recoil in mild terror. Sugar could not soothe Jim’s savage ire. He stomped up to his apartment building, alone, and let himself in.

He checked the mail first. Opening the small box, he reached in and grabbed a handful of bills and junk mail, the latter getting tossed into the nearby garbage can. Something fell to the ground, landing just under his shoe. Jim bent over, picked it up, and frowned. It was a red envelope, his name hand-printed in gold ink on the front. “This has to be a sick joke,” he muttered, and looked around to see if anyone was hiding or watching him. Satisfied he was alone, he jabbed a thumb in the crease and pulled the envelope open.

Inside was a simple card, black ink on white paper. It read:

“Dearest Jim,

For years, I’ve watched you come in alone to our building. I’ve seen your disapproving looks of other people as they pass you by. At first I thought you just preferred to be alone, but I think you positively despise couples who are happy.

Frankly, I’m disgusted by them too. Today, I’ve seen too many people stroll by with stupid looks on their faces. These are the same people who, as recently as yesterday, couldn’t stand each other. It makes no sense.

Not only that, but I keep getting harassed by my family and friends to get into a relationship. They don’t understand that these things require careful consideration of mutual interests, spending habits, and personal temperament. Instead, they just badger me constantly that love is enough, as if that ever did anything for anyone.

Last year at this time, I noticed you too had a brush with a friend who wanted you to get into a relationship. Your exchange with him could be heard halfway up the building. Although you seemed quite reasonable, your friend was not capable of seeing things from your enlightened perspective. As a happy accident, I realized that if you feel as I do on the subject, nothing should be more revolting than a pointless relationship. Also, I realized that this puts us both in a unique situation.

Since we both do not care for the insanity of love or making poor decisions with our lives, I propose that we enter into an agreement where we both claim each other as a romantic partner. Neither party is bound to do all the stupid things we witness other people doing. Gifts and exchanges shall be made on a quid quo pro basis. To make this official, I cordially invite you to dinner this evening at my place in apartment 7D. As per the agreement, this means dessert will be at your apartment afterwards. Should you find these terms acceptable, you may dress for formal dinner and arrive at my place sharply at 7 pm.



Jim closed the letter, and tapped it against the envelope. His face felt warm, and he had a faint smile. All these years of living in this apartment, and he had no idea someone else felt exactly like he did about love. The prospect of having an arrangement where he could get all of his associates to leave him alone about getting a romantic partner made his heart skip a beat. He’d even get dinner, and his smile broadened when he remembered he actually had a fresh cherry pie he could throw in the oven.

Practically floating to the elevator, Jim’s head filled with what he should wear to dinner. He imagined the conversation regarding mutual interests and biographical history. Someone else got onto the elevator with him, and gave him a strange look when he giggled absently to himself. Jim didn’t care; he was thinking about how he’d spend the evening talking about all the stupid people going to restaurants this evening.

Dinner wouldn’t be out of the question, Jim decided. The elevator stopped at his floor, and he got out with a spring in his step. Tonight would be the first Valentine’s night that he’d spend pleasantly, and he had a secret admirer to thank for it.

Vote For Linda

Click this link to go vote for Linda G. Hill’s awesome book, The Magician’s Curse. She’s in the running to receive a Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice Award! Linda has also included links to purchase her book if you haven’t read it yet and want to do so before voting.

Or, you know, if you like reading good fiction.

True story.

Worldbuilding 101

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Worldbuilding is the process of developing a fictional setting for a story or other creation. Creating them can be fun, probably because it involves making an entire universe in a chosen image. Reality for the ensuing characters is whatever an artist wants it to be. That kind of power rarely gets exercised in real life.

As a writer and fiction enthusiast, I’ve talked with a bunch of different people about the worlds they’ve built. Some of the sales pitches were interesting, and some needed a bit of polish. I decided to put down three of the more common themes I’ve ranted/discussed over the years into one place in the hopes that it might help people building their own masterpieces.

1. Your world needs to conform to the story you’re telling.
Different stories need different worlds or parts of worlds. The important thing is that the story itself determines what the world is like, and not the other way around. Worlds are just one part of the story getting created, along with characters, plot, conflict, and resolution. If the setting doesn’t have anything to do with the other elements, the story will suffer.

2. Don’t get too sidetracked with minor details.
Too many worlds don’t actually promote the story they tell. Sometimes this is because you get lost creating the hand-crafted cuckoo clock in the protagonist’s cousin’s brother’s niece’s roommate’s micro-brewery. Those details might add depth and realism to the setting, but it does nothing to further the plot. Unless the antagonist steals it as part of her overarching plan to conquer the world/system/galaxy/universe, you can get away with not having it there.

3. Don’t build a world if you don’t have to.
Okay, this seems a bit counter-intuitive, but I think it needs to be said. Too often I’ve heard an idea that fits quite well in some historical setting or in a small variation on reality. There’s no need to create a whole ecosystem of continents, cultures, and cities if your story just needs a fictional town in a real country. It doesn’t matter that Otisburg, California doesn’t really exist (unless you’re a fictional warlord in Calsahara). It only matters that your characters believe it exists.

That’s it for now. Worldbuilding is a fun thing to do, but ultimately it’s just the creation of a setting. Let it work for you, and everyone else will get the chance to enjoy your creation!

Story Snippets : The Forbidden Planet

Author’s Note: Here is a short excerpt from a short story I’m working on, which should be published later this year.

The Space Exploration Vehicle Atlas slammed into the planet’s atmosphere, kicking up a trail of fire and smoke as friction started to slow it down. Colliding with all that gas shook the vessel mercilessly, rattling the teeth of the three explorers inside. Alarms and warnings screeched in protest to add extra reminders that the ship wasn’t built to go from interstellar travel directly into a planetary approach. Inside, the cabin got a few degrees warmer while smoke clouded every view screen. Outside, the hull glowed red hot.

Nick Trumbull, the ship’s science officer, screamed at the navigator and pilot, “Hit the thrusters! We need to get altitude now or we’re all dead!” He told them as much earlier. Skipping off the atmosphere is better than being disintegrated by it.

Pilot Joanne Fontaine growled her response, her words shaking with the wheel she tried to steady with both hands, “Can’t do it! Any ships guarding the planet would hunt us down! We’ll be fine!” On the starboard side, something broke away with a giant metallic clang. A piece of the hull must have fallen off. She could feel Nick’s smirk burning the back of her head. “If I’m wrong, at least you won’t be around to gloat,” she added.

Nick tried thinking of something to say, but the ship stopped shaking, and the smoke and fire cleared from the screens. He breathed in a sigh of relief, but he saw the barren landscape below coming up fast. It looked like a giant swath of broken rock formations and dust getting blown about, definitely not the safest place to have a crash landing. “Pull up, Joanne,” he begged.

The controls didn’t respond to Joanne’s commands. At about 2,000 kph, the ship crashed into their destination’s crust. Nick heard a loud groan and felt his entire body press into his seat straps. Joanne whipped her head forward and smashed her forehead into the wheel. It opened a red gash which bled into her left eye. All the alarms went silent, the lights went off, and a few thin wisps of smoke wafted into the cabin.

Captain Violet Anderson calmly brushed off her shoulders and unfastened her straps. “I can’t do many more landings like this, Joanne.” She rotated her right shoulder, then caught the pilot’s bloody wound. “Neither can you.”

On Lovecraft

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Most anybody who reads or even is interested in supernatural horror will eventually hear about H. P. Lovecraft. During his life, he wasn’t as popular as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, or other giants of the time. After his death, he’s become quite influential on supernatural horror and weird fiction.

Lovecraft’s works are generally timeless.
I think much of this is in part that he relied on fear of the unknown in his work. Not knowing something plays on a person’s insecurities, tearing at the veneer of any lie a person might use to provide comfort. The unknown will always exist, and so there will always be a reason for people to feel apprehensive about it.

This is why his exploration of some themes has influenced what I feel is good horror. Too often people confuse horror with the grotesque or jump-scare. Lovecraft only spent as much time as was minimally necessary on those details, leaving the rest to the reader’s imagination. The rest of the story plays on whatever themes he’s building, usually relating to civilization or the advance of science.

He’s also pretty controversial.
As I’ve been re-reading some of his works recently, I’ve been reminded again of the racist themes which had permeated his work over the years. They date his work to where nobody can mistake it for being produced in the early 20th century. Sadly, such themes take away from his stories, especially when he’s blatantly relying upon them for subtext. At best, I think they’re better off ignored in favor of the strength of his other work.

Not everyone can ignore it, and for those reasons I wouldn’t recommend Lovecraft to everyone. Even when I do, I try to preface the recommendation with the above information. His work is very good in many other regards, and I think people can benefit from reading at least a few of his better stories.

His shorter stories are some of his best works.
The Other Gods, The Cats of Ulthar, and Pickman’s Model I think are some of his best stories. When Lovecraft focuses on building his famous mythos, he really shines. It is there where he fully cultivates fear of the unknown, and where his horror becomes most chilling. This is why I still read his fiction from time to time.