Radium Age 100 (23)
July 27, 2015
One in a series of 100 posts about the best science fiction novels published from 1904–33. HiLobrow’s Josh Glenn has named that era science fiction’s Radium Age; more info here. The complete Radium Age 100 list can be found here.
H.P. Lovecraft’s The Color Out of Space (1927).
The narrator of this (long) short story, considered one of Lovecraft’s best, interviews Pierce, a madman who lives in the wild hills west of Arkham, Massachusetts, regarding the origins of the area’s so-called “blasted heath.” It turns out that a meteorite had crashed in fertile farmland, years earlier, shedding globules of an impossible color. Crops began to grow large (and slightly luminous) but inedible; farm animals began to exhibit deformities; people went insane or died. Discovering that a neighbor’s wife was infected by the color out of space, Pierce put her out of her misery; but discovered that the alien creature — whose motives are unknowable — is now living in the well!
Fun fact: Lovecraft made a study of colors outside of the visible spectrum because he was determined to conjure up an alien life-form whose nature would be entirely foreign to human experience.
MORE RADIUM AGE SCI FI ON HILOBROW: HiLoBooks homepage! | What is Radium Age science fiction? |Radium Age 100: 100 Best Science Fiction Novels from 1904–33 | Radium Age Supermen | Radium Age Robots | Radium Age Apocalypses | Radium Age Telepaths | Radium Age Eco-Catastrophes | Radium Age Cover Art (1) | SF’s Best Year Ever: 1912 | Radium Age Science Fiction Poetry | Enter Highbrowism | Bathybius! Primordial ooze in Radium Age sf | War and Peace Games (H.G. Wells’s training manuals for supermen) | Radium Age: Context series | J.D. Beresford | Algernon Blackwood | Edgar Rice Burroughs | Karel Čapek | Buster Crabbe | August Derleth | Arthur Conan Doyle | Hugo Gernsback | Charlotte Perkins Gilman | Cicely Hamilton | Hermann Hesse | William Hope Hodgson | Aldous Huxley | Inez Haynes Irwin | Alfred Jarry | Jack Kirby (Radium Age sf’s influence on) | Murray Leinster | Gustave Le Rouge | Gaston Leroux | David Lindsay | Jack London | H.P. Lovecraft | A. Merritt | Maureen O’Sullivan | Sax Rohmer | Paul Scheerbart | Upton Sinclair | Clark Ashton Smith | E.E. “Doc” Smith | Olaf Stapledon | John Taine | H.G. Wells | Jack Williamson | Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz | S. Fowler Wright | Philip Gordon Wylie | Yevgeny Zamyatin