The Cult of Alien Gods: H.P. Lovecraft and Extraterrestrial Pop Culture
by Jason Colavito, Published by Prometheus Books
This dense yet fascinating read proclaims that those theories suggesting humanity commingled with alien races long ago — possibly even being spawned by one — can be directly traced, not to historical reality, but to a series of fictional short stories by the horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, written at the beginning of the 20th century. Author Colavito — a former believer, and a contributor to Skeptic magazine — takes us chronologically through the history of this idea, from Lovecraft’s life to the present day, and he makes a convincing argument that “extraterrestrial genesis,” the theory that humanity was created by aliens, is hogwash. Lovecraft, Colavito argues, was a lifelong atheist and materialist and had no room for these pseudo-scientific theories in real life — but he knew well that they make for excellent fiction. The biographical portrait consumes only a fraction of The Cult of Alien Gods, though, and the rest of the work details long arguments intended to debunk dozens of alien-history theories, including those that claim: the Sphinx at Giza is much older than originally thought; Atlantis was real and home to an ancient, technological race; an ancient African tribe knew Sirius was a double star even before modern astronomers did. Though the links to Lovecraft seem reasonable at first blush, Colavito’s arguments sometimes turn specious, and he’s not immune to the same weakness of which he accuses others: presupposing a conclusion and then accepting only evidence that supports it. Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile read that seeks to shed light upon a hundred years of speculation and myth, while at the same time paying high praise to one of the last century’s greatest storytellers.
January 9, 2006 – Matthew Kressel (courtesy Earthling Magazine).