The decades of the atom. The Space Race. Satanic sects as a social plague. Thanks to these events, the themes and nightmares of H.P. Lovecraft are more real and disturbing for us than for the audience of the 20’s and 30’s.
Today, we are certain of billions of galaxies, planets, and countless systems—in the next year, the New Horizons probe will tell us if cold Yuggoth is the Mi-Go desert—with our inability to conceive, to even imagine, how big “out there” really is, we must face the very real possibility that Azathoth and his court may be lurking among the stars. And, thanks to the mass suicides of the Reverend Jim Jones, the murder “families” of Charles Manson, and the horrors of the Beasts of Satan, all towns look like the Innsmouth of the Shadow, or the Kingsport of the Festival.
The Media, Government, and “experts” repeat that we are safe from prehistoric evils: that we shouldn’t fear the witches. But, immersed in technology less and less palpable and comprehensible, when we are confronted by atavistic horrors we feel lost and we “lack a weapon”—like the protagonist of Innsmouth. If Lovecraft’s contemporaries were still battling monsters with solid shot revolvers, gallons of acid, or by ramming them with a ship, the citizens of the 21st Century are truly deprived of any effective tools: Their renunciation of that simple, strenuous physicality puts them at the mercy of these intangible horrors. Or, as told by Abdul Alhazred, horrors of such corrupt substance that they are immune to death.
Anthropocentric nightmares before HPL—demons and undead, werewolves, the possessed—were caused suffering by Psalms and religious symbols, and were banished by the faith of a priest. In time, even humans conquered them: now they attend high school with your daughter. You have to flirt with them or they “friendzone” you. If we decided to give up the mundane—go back and listen to our spirit—we would find that, since the awakening of Dagon, Cthulhu, and the shaggy insectoid divinity in the Museum, not even the divine force can save us: Yog-Sothoth and Nyarlathotep aren’t scared by the gods of a useless race, or gifts granted in the temples of a useless planet. What is their short existence compared to eons?
You can’t save yourself from the Ancient Ones. For readers in the 30’s, there was hope: they could still disbelieve, like it was just nonsense. We have no choice: an entire society that should belong to the Arkham Asylum gives us a terrifying confirmation.
But if Apocalypse must be, well, at least let us experience it with style! Like a great end-of-year party, we want to ebb well-dressed and sly: the warmth of a good whiskey, the euphoria of jazz and Charleston and rag-time notes against the emptiness of the abyss. And between fighting a Deep One in a tracksuit, jeans, and slippers or fighting it in borsalino, pinstripe, and leather shoes beside a dame with Louise Brooks hair, between a gun excessive even for Schwarzenegger or a tommy-gun in a cello case… Well, this is style, guys, worthy of the Titanic’s orchestra.
Ah! The aplomb of the aristocratic Solitaire of Providence!
Kingsport Festival brings back that atmosphere: Lovecraft ruthless, meager, essential: the one who scares silently, forcing you to look in the mirror to prove you are the Outsider. It’s not a spin-off, a reboot. And it is free of contamination. Thanks to this, the player returns to the darkest roads, the deep underground, infested and sick. From the pages of books you should not have read (after all, he warned you), comes the board game you should not open.