A Bleak Future

We shall hear of all sorts of futile reforms and reformers—standardised culture-outlines, synthetic sports and spectacles, professional play-leaders and study-guides, and kindred examples of machine-made uplift and brotherly spirit. And it will amount to just about as much as most reforms do! Meanwhile the tension of boredom and unsatisfied imagination will increase—breaking out with increasing frequency in crimes of morbid perversity and explosive violence.


DESCRIPTION: In a letter to his friend Woodburn Harris, Lovecraft describes the effects of industrialization on future societies.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To Woodburn Harris.” 1 Mar. 1929. Selected Letters. Edited by August Derleth, vol. 2, Arkham House, 1968, pp. 287-314.

Who He Was, None Could Tell

And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt. Who he was, none could tell, but he was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin knelt when they saw him, yet could not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries, and that he had heard messages from places not on this planet. Into the lands of civilisation came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combing them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the sciences—of electricity and psychology—and gave exhibitions of power which sent his spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men advised one another to see Nyarlathotep, and shuddered. And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished; for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare. Never before had the screams of nightmare been such a public problem; now the wise men almost wished they could forbid sleep in the small hours, that the shrieks of cities might less horribly disturb the pale, pitying moon as it glimmered on green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples crumbling against a sickly sky.


DESCRIPTION: In a passage from the short story “Nyarlathotep” (1920), Lovecraft describes his apocalyptic vision of the future, a future dominated by a mysterious figure known as Nyarlathotep.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Nyarlathotep.” The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Penguin Books, 1999, pp. 31-3.

That Pandaemoniac Sight

And as he snarled the phrase under his breath he gestured anew; bringing to the sky a flash more blinding than either which had come before. For full three seconds I could glimpse that pandaemoniac sight, and in those seconds I saw a vista which will ever afterward torment me in dreams. I saw the heavens verminous with strange flying things, and beneath them a hellish black city of giant stone terraces with impious pyramids flung savagely to the moon, and devil-lights burning from unnumbered windows. And swarming loathsomely on aërial galleries I saw the yellow, squint-eyed people of that city, robed horribly in orange and red, and dancing insanely to the pounding of fevered kettle-drums, and the clatter of obscene crotale, and the maniacal moaning of muted horns whose ceaseless dirges rose and fell undulantly like the waves of an unhallowed ocean of bitumen.


DESCRIPTION: In a passage from the short story “He” (1925), Lovecraft describes, in racist terms, his apocalyptic vision of the future.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “He.” The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Penguin Books, 1999, pp. 119-29.

The Decline of the West

Orientals must be kept in their native East till the fall of the white race. Sooner or later a great Japanese war will take place … The more numerous Chinese are a menace of the still more distant future. They will probably be the exterminators of Caucasian civilisation, for their numbers are amazing.


DESCRIPTION: In a letter to the Gallomo, Lovecraft describes his racist theory that the Chinese and Japanese will someday become the “exterminators of Caucasian civilisation.”

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To Alfred Galpin and Maurice W. Moe.” 30 Sept. 1919. Selected Letters. Edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, vol. 1, Arkham House, 1965, pp. 89-90.

What Has Sunk May Rise

Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men.


DESCRIPTION: In this passage from the short story “The Call of Cthulhu” (1926), Francis Wayland Thurston speculates that, someday, Cthulhu will rise again to terrorize humanity and reclaim the Earth as his domain.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Call of Cthulhu.” The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Penguin Books, 1999, pp. 139-69.