The Cosmic Horror Story is a treat for speculative fiction fans: Science fiction, fantasy, and horror and blended into one work of literature. The "father" of this genre is generally considered to be H.P Lovecraft, "founder" of the Cthulhu Mythos. A recurring theme in cosmic horror stories is the idea that good and evil are simply human concepts, and humanity inhabits a bleak and uncaring universe.
- Puny Earthlings: The idea that humanity is completely defenseless in the face of the gibbering horrors from beyond the stars, and that Earth is an insignificant little blue planet or no interest to anybody, except the occasional brain-eating monster from beyond our universe.
- Eldritch Abomination: One of the staples of the cosmic horror story genre. Cosmic horror stories very rarely feature rubber forehead aliens. Expect to see starfish aliens, starfish languages, and a whole lot of tentacles. Humanoid Abominations can also occasionally work, ala' the Slender Man. They can be whatever embodiment or presence you want, as long as they are incomprehensible greater beings. Another option is to invert it and make the humans incomprehensible, to a degree they are the true horror compared to the genuinely innocent and neutral cosmic entities, even within the inversion, the pessimistic and powerless nature of men never change.
- Eldritch Location: Usually where the monsters originate from. It can be an underwater city housing an alien monster, another planet, or another dimension.
- Downer Ending: Cosmic Horror Stories rarely ever end happily. If it does, it's usually an ending that can only be considered happy in the broadest sense of the term. If it has an obviously happy ending, or a Bittersweet Ending, it's probably Lovecraft Lite.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: The eldritch knowledge is not meant to be known, this is the result of one attempting to understand and correlate the contents of the world.
- Humans Are Insects: The easiest way to sum up the role of humanity is that under a cosmic scale of horror, they are a group of clueless, defenseless ants, whereas the otherworldly monstrosities are more like people who step upon ants for various reason we cannot comprehend, be it accidentally stepping on us because they don't care about creatures as tiny as ants, or they're somehow interested in playing with ants and decided to pour a bucket of hot water on us and see what would happen.
StoryboardHow you integrate your Cosmic Entity into your story is important, one should avoid shoving your cosmic horror elements into the world without planning. If an Eldritch Location can be accessed by everyone effortlessly, it would render the horror element redundant.
There are many ways to begin your story. Do you prefer an Urban Fantasy escue opening? Disguising your cosmic horror story into other genres (Such as a heartwarming Slice of Life, an overly generic Slasher Movie, or a seemly-logical Dystopian Downer Beginning) and then bombard the insanity later on? Anyway, one must leave enough clues to foreshadow the events.
Assembling your Eldritch AbominationHow would you assemble your Eldritch Abomination? Do you prefer a Humanoid Abomination or a Starfish Alien? Just use your creativity and assemble your creature as you desire.
- Adorable Abomination: Some of them are cute, but beneath their cuteness, they can still be deadly.
- Almighty Idiot: Sometimes, it's scarier when the Eldritch Abomination doesn't know what it's doing.
- Body Horror: Gruesome body parts are scary.
- Body of Bodies: In case body parts weren't scary enough, stack thousands of corpses into a creature.
- Combat Tentacles: Several Eldritch Abominations have tentacles to make them resemble aquatic creatures.
- Cthulhumanoid: Octupus head resembles a large human brain, or a human skull, and they feed on your mind.
- Dem Bones: Bones and skulls are the motif of death.
- Everythings Squishierwith Cephalopods: A reason why they have combat tentacles.
- Eyes Do Not Belong There: To make them see through everything, we need more eyes.
- Freud Was Right: Imagine someone jumping out of a bush/alleyway/etc. and flashing you. This would essentially be the cosmic equivalent.
- Giant Spider: Spiders are scary, how about alien spider gods?
- Humanoid Abomination: If you want to invoke Uncanny Valley, make them partially human-like.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: When your creatures are in a dire hunger.
- Sea Monster: Deep sea creatures are good templates because we can't comprehend them.
- Space Whale: For benevolent creatures who prefer a softer appearance.
- Starfish Alien: When your creature doesn't resemble anything natural.
- Starfish Robot: Robotic counterparts of starfish aliens, and they are often cold, inhuman.
- The Worm That Walks: If one Eldritch Abomination isn't enough, let's make an Eldritch Abomination made of multiple creatures, or even multiple Eldritch Abominations.
- The Ghost: For the logical conclusion of incomprehensible beings, who needs form?
- Winged Humanoid: Wings are angelic, godlike.
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Some eldritch horrors are such that it is impossible for the human mind to grasp them completely without going completely mad. Such beings may select A Form You Are Comfortable With when dealing with other beings.
Examples of Cosmic Horror Stories
- Cthulhu Mythos (Forefather to the genre)
- The Slender Man Mythos
- House of Leaves
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- War of the Worlds
- A discussion of what made H.P. Lovecraft's work so ground-breaking can be found here. Musings On Lovecraftian Horror by the The United Federation of Charles.
- Similarly, by the same site, there's a discussion of what not to do by pointing out the pitfalls of Post-Lovecraftian Horror. What is Post-Lovecraftian Horror?
- Terrible Writing Advice produced a video on the subject. Needless to say, following every one of his pieces of advice will ensure the production of a truly horrible work of Cosmic Horror.