Check here over the weeks to come for updates on the core convention programming and all the related events happening in Providence the week of the convention. More details on all the extended programming such as plays, concerts, and film screenings coming soon!
PANELS and TALKS!
This section includes the list of talks, panels, author readings, and the like. Participating panelists are still being finalized but we expect to post that by the last week of June. We are also working on the full schedule, including the invited academic speakers and the Armitage Symposium, and plan to have the first round of those posted by the 1st of July! Expect a detailed downloadable .pdf of the full core schedule as well as the schedule of additional programming for NecronomiCon Providence 2019 in early July.
1. Sermons From the Hill of Dreams: Arthur Machen
Writer and mystic Arthur Llewellyn Jones, better known to readers as Arthur Machen, was one of the most important figures in weird/horror literature around the turn of the last century and his unique blend of ancient folklore, spiritual and occult ideas, and thoroughly modern sensibilities led him to create a body of work that’s seen as a towering achievement. Come join us as we explore his work and its lasting influence on the field as a whole.
2. Under the Ash-Tree: Exploring M.R. James as Weird Fiction
While Montague Rhodes James often referred to his short fiction as little more than ‘entertainments,’ his reinvention of the English ghost story (simultaneously modernising it and grounding it in the broader traditions of English folk literature) irrevocably changed the field. In this discussion we seek to reconcile the contradiction in how he saw his work and how it was seen, at large, and celebrate the father of the modern ghost story while properly examining his work, finally, in the grand tradition of Weird Fiction.
3. It is a Tiger that Destroys Me: Latin American Literature as Weird Fiction
Latin America has a long and rich history of strange literatures. Please join us as we explore this history and the similarities between literature from the traditions of Magical Realism and Latinx Surrealism and anglophonic Weird Fiction through the discussion of works by Clarice Lispector, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, and more.
4. Songs the Sandman Sings: The Legacy and Influence of ETA Hoffmann
German Romantic and polymath E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776 – 1822) was an early pioneer in science fiction and fantasy, with macabre sensibilities that influenced Poe, Kafka, and Hitchcock. Perhaps best known for his stories The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, The Sandman, and Automata, his work and ideas connected fantasy, mesmerism, dreams, and machine culture in ways sometimes overlooked today. Our panelists discuss his work and illuminate his enduring influence on weird fiction.
5. Manly Wade Wellman and the American Folk Horror Tradition
Manley Wade Wellman (1906 – 1986). Prolific scholar and author Manley Wade Wellman’s work ranged from pulp magazines and comics to his Pulitzer Prize-nominated non-fiction. A man of the world, he was a mix of the cosmopolitan and folksy Appalachian charm, who introduced us to such characters as John The Balladeer (AKA Silver John), Hok the Mighty, and occult detectives Judge Pursuivant and John Thunstone. Come sit on the porch with the fireflies and a taste of blockade whiskey while our expert panelists discuss his legacy and his place in the pantheon of American Folk Horror.
6. Pulp History
Weird Tales. Argosy. Amazing Stories. For fifty years, pulp magazines reigned supreme, publishing the sensational, the titillating, and the strange. In their heyday they published the lowest hacks and greatest literati and were the launch platform for many legends of genre fiction. Our panelists present a history of the major magazines that published the work of Lovecraft, Howard, and so many more!
7. Can’t Live With Him: The Life and Works of Sonia Greene
Sonia Haft Greene Lovecraft Davis (1883 – 1972) is best known in the weird fiction community as the wife of H. P. Lovecraft. Yet this two-year span does not define this capable and independent women whose success and career exceeded her husband’s in many respects. Author of poems, fiction, and a play, her greatest success came as a leader and investor in the world of amateur presses. Our expert panelists discuss her life with and without the Gentleman from Providence, including her own contributions to the weird, her career, and her often fraught personal relationships.
8. Sources of the Modern Weird in Japan: Edogawa Rampo
Hirai Tarō (1894 – 1965) was one of Japan’s foremost mystery writers, whose work included adult detective fiction, the young adult “Boys Detective Club” series, and stories tinged with the uncanny, the grotesque, and the erotic. A devotee of Edgar Allan Poe, he spent great effort to popularize the mystery genre, writing essays on its history, promoting new work, and founding the Mystery Writers of Japan. His work remains immensely popular in Japan and he has attained international recognition as a master of mystery and suspense.
9. The Shadow of Arkham House: Exploring the House that Derleth Built and the Long Shadow it Continues to Extend
It’s safe to say that, without the tireless work of August Derleth, so much Weird Fiction (and, indeed, Lovecraft, himself!) may have been lost to mouldering graveyard of pulp obscurity. When he and Donald Wandrei decided to begin the Arkham House project in 1939 by releasing what they saw as the best of Lovecraft’s work to the public, the field was irrevocably changed. Please join us as we discuss how it all began, where it all went, and the vast shadow that remains over Weird Fiction.
10. Her Own Dark Mythos: Tanith Lee
Tanith Lee (1947–2015) wrote broadly, including work for children and adults, poetry, and television. With her lush, dark, and often deeply psychosexual prose, she created bizarre fantasy worlds and turned familiar horror tropes upon their heads. Join our panelists as they explore the work of this grand master of the decadently weird and impossibly strange.
11. Scripturam Obscuram: Remarkable Unsung Authors
We all know the particular struggle of trying to discover authors whose work is so novel, so new (to us, at least!), so very important and whose works just seem to slip through the cracks of the critical establishment so allow us the chance to broaden your horizons with a panel of experts on the obscure discussing some of their favourite writers who we should ALL be reading but might not be familiar with.
12. Eldritch Excavations: Weird Archaeology and the Mythos Writers
Ancient artifacts, cyclopean ruins, and forgotten pre-human civilizations are themes that permeate the works of writers like Lovecraft, Howard, Smith and others. Join our panelists as they delve into archaeological tropes in weird fiction, including a presentation on the recent real-life National Park Service excavations at the Robert E. Howard House in Cross Plains, Texas.
13. Celebrating Wilum Pugmire and Stanley Sargent
Two important voices in the weird fiction community fell silent since we last convened this conference, Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire and Stanley Sargent. Friends and colleagues discuss their contributions to the weird community, the status as outsiders, and personal reminiscences of these lost artists. Come share and celebrate their lives.
14. Dark Matters: Weird Fiction From the African Diaspora
Writers of African descent around the world have been contributing to speculative fiction since the days of Charles W. Chesnutt, W. E. B. Dubois, and George S. Schuyler, but their contributions have not always been acknowledged. Our panelists discuss the history and importance of this literary movement and how the Diaspora experience has shaped and informed it.
15. Through a Forest, Darkly: Sylvan Dread
Throughout the history of Weird Fiction (and its antecedents in both folklore and the fairy tale) the notion of the Forest has played a key role as setting, subject, and the very darkness at the core of Weird fiction. This discussion will explore the notion of sylvan dread through some of its best contemporary practitioners and, just maybe, we’ll get to the heart of why we have always feared the dark forests of the world.
16. Uncanny Valleys: Simulacra, Puppets, Mannequins and Automatons
Objects that resemble humans have been a source of fascination and revulsion for perhaps as as long as they have existed. What is the source of the sense of the uncanny that may accompany such encounters with the alien-yet-familiar humanoid device? How have authors and filmmakers harnessed this experience to disturb and frighten? Our panelists discuss the use and history of the “not quite” human humanoid, and share their favorite examples.
17. Endarkenment: Nihilism as Liberation in Weird Fiction
Thomas Ligotti once wrote that ” Consciousness has forced us into the paradoxical position of striving to be unself-conscious of what we are—hunks of spoiling flesh on disintegrating bones” and, in doing so, joined a host of writers and philosophers dabbling in what’s generally considered scoffed at as ‘nihilism.’ But what if that lack of meaning could lead, not to oppression, but to liberation? Come join our panel as they discuss ways in which literary and philosophical endarkenment can lead to new vistas of understanding and meaning in meaninglessness.
18. We Are Not One Thing: Colonies, Hives, Collectives, and Composites
Weird fiction is populated with entities that are greater than the sum of their parts. Distributed and collective consciousnesses raise powerful questions about free will, the nature of identity, and the significance of bodies as a source of selfhood. Not surprisingly, they are a staple of horror and science fiction, appearing across all forms of media. Our panelists discuss the existential nightmares raised when the individual confronts the superorganism, and when we realize that we, ourselves, are not a single entity in any meaningful sense. Prepare to be assimilated!
19. Welcome to the Weird: A Beginners Guide to Weird Fiction
New to the weird fiction scene? Know a lot, but want to fill in the corners and better understand how it all fits together? Where is the fuzzy boundary that separates “weird fiction” from horror, dark fantasy, and other genres? Join our experts as they provide a survey of weird fiction in history and today, tracing the roots, concerns, trends, and major writers in the field.
20. The Weird Writ Large: Kaiju as Device and Metaphor in Weird Fiction
Although not known for their subtlety, giant monsters have always borne the weight of cultural concerns. Atomic destruction, science gone wrong, invasion fears, and bureaucratic inertia have all been explored using the symbolism of larger-than-life creatures. Although most commonly associated with film, the Kaiju genre extends into comics, video games, fiction, and poetry. Take shelter as our panelists discuss the literary power of these strange beasts.
21. Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities in Weird Verse
Poetry has been a critical component of weird literature since the beginning and continues to be a vital movement. Our panelists discuss their approach to speculative poetry, their inspirations, and the advantages of poetry as a medium for approaching the strange. The status of genre poetry and state of the industry will also be considered.
22. Lovecraft and the Gothic Tradition in Literature
The Gothic literary tradition is expansive and was undoubtedly influential in Lovecraft’s writing. However, his status as a gothic writer is debatable, given the ways in which he refined and rejected various aspects of the gothic in creating his own style. Our panelists examine his body of work in relationship to the genre, with particular emphasis on his more explicitly gothic tales and Lovecraft’s own ideas on the subject.
23. Dust, Ash, and Iron: The Use and Presentation of Alchemy & Magic in the works of H.P. Lovecraft
From Charles Dexter Ward to the Whateley family in The Dunwich Horror, alchemy and magic appear in Lovecraft’s fiction in ways that range from the faint to the ferocious. What are the significance and prevalence of these themes in his oeuvre? Why are cultists a common element in his stories? How accurate where Lovecraft’s writings when compared to the alchemical writings significant during his lifetime, or inclusive of that which was perceived as “true” magic? What is Lovecraftian-themed occultism, and how accurately does it depict the content of Lovecraft’s fictional universe?
24. Sacred Objects, Sacred Places: The Importance of Shrines, Idols, and Religious Artefacts in HPL
Despite his firmly committed atheism and materialism, sacred locales and artefacts are often central to Lovecraft’s fiction. Why is the sacred so important to his work, and how does he understand the sacred, the profane, and the sacrilegious? Our devoted experts shall assemble in this ecumenical synod called to examine these questions with specific reference to canonical texts.
25. Providence in Lovecraft’s Day
How did the Providence of Lovecraft’s day shape his fiction? What locations inspired or are incorporated into his works? How vastly different is the modern Providence landscape from today? What has been lost of Lovecraft’s Providence, and what can we learn of those places that are no longer present? Is Lovecraft a “regional” writer? Explore these questions in more with those who are well-versed in Lovecraftian geographical history.
26. The Unnamable Down East: The Influence of Lovecraft on the Works of Stephen King
What elements of Lovecraftian fiction have been incorporated by King into his narratives? Which stories of Lovecraft influenced his works the most? What are the differences and similarities between the two? What is Stephen King’s most Lovecraftian story? These themes and more will be explored by our panelists.
OTHERS (pop culture, art / film / gaming, etc)
27. The Future of Weird Fiction and Necronomicon-PVD wrap-up
Join our panel of experts as they discuss the most vital Weird Fiction of today and the direction they see it moving towards in the future. The panel concludes with some thoughts on this year’s convention and future plans
28. Guests of Honor
Please join us as we introduce and celebrate the guests of honor for the NecronomiCon Providence 2019, followed by a discussion with the audience.
29. Music of the Spheres: Cosmicism and Weird Music
Panelists discuss the themes and concepts of the weird as adapted to music, and the importance of music to the weird at large. What themes and concepts of the weird have been adapted into music? How does music relate to and stand independent from the weird as expressed in other media? Panelists will explore these topics and more.
30. Victory At Home and Beyond – Investigators for Social Equality
There are only a handful of people of color, gender non-conforming, and/or sexual orientation non-conforming creators making Lovecraftian horror role-playing games. Most of these people are from groups Lovecraft himself would have cast as villains or the true horrors in his stories. How do we create stories that are true to the bleak Mythos vision of the universe while still telling diverse stories that represent everyone in cosmic horror? When the stars come right we will all be equal, so let’s hope we can pull it together before that happens. This panel will touch on this topic, and the work that still needs to be done in our industry towards inclusion, diversity, and equality.
32. Every Angel is Terrifying: Exploring the Mysterium Tremendum in Magical Art
In his seminal work, “The Idea of the Holy,” German philosopher and theologian Rudolf Otto codified the notion of the mysterium tremendum as an apprehension of the divine that has its “wild and demonic forms and can sink to an almost grisly horror and shuddering,” but may also be “developed into something beautiful and pure and glorious.” In this discussion we will examine how the holy or divine expressed in art and mystical traditions is also often terrifying, and how magic can be mistaken as demonic rather than daemonic.
33. A Little Stranger: The Art and Life of Edward Gorey
One of America’s most famous illustrators of the gently macabre, writer and illustrator Edward Gorey is perhaps best known in popular culture for the Gashlycrumb Tinies and the opening credits for PBS’s Mystery! series. His signature pen and ink drawings in Victorian or Edwardian style were frequently tied to ambiguous and unsettling narratives that delight adults and children alike. Panelists examine the life and work of this singularly strange artist.
34. Films Made and Unmade: Adaptations of Lovecraft’s Contemporaries
For an author who focused on atmosphere and left most of his monsters offstage, Lovecraft has spawned a large number of adaptations relative to many classic weird authors. Why have HPL’s contemporaries, such as Hodgson, Long, Smith, and Derleth not enjoyed the same level of interest? Also, why do some of the highest profile Lovecraft films never seem to get made (Guillermo, we’re looking at you)? Our panelists discuss and also tell us what unmade films they would like to see.
35. Creeping Through the Four-Coloured Forest: Contemporary Weird Comics
At least since the days of EC Comics, the Weird has been a ripe topic for exploration in comics. Numerous mash-ups have been generated combining the weird with themes of warfare, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. A new generation of creators, such as Skinner, Aeron Alfrey, and Mat Brinkman, is subverting traditional tropes while nevertheless hewing close to traditional methods. What can we expect to see in the future of weird comics?
36. The Weird Cinema and Television of David Lynch
David Lynch’s cinematic style has continued to evolve since “Eraserhead” (1977), primarily by incorporating increasingly non-linear narrative elements, while continuing to reinvent genres. The influence of “Twin Peaks” on television was tremendous, not only spawning a host of copy-cat shows, but also breaking ground for new types of shows focusing on supernatural horror and weird fiction. This panel asks the question, What can we know about Lynch’s dedication to the Weird, from his output as well as his interviews?
37. Endless Darkness, Endless Chaos, Endless War: The Cosmic Horror of the Warhammer Universe
The Warhammer universe is as vast as it is grim, positing cosmic horror on a scale that boggles the imagination. Whether played out in the Age of Sigmar fantasy setting or the million embattled worlds of 40K, humanity is doomed to conflict against alien races, malign supernatural powers, and malevolent gods with a distinct Mythos flavor. For over thirty years, Games workshop has produced and licensed wargames, RPGs, video games, fiction, and film, all of which share the Warhammer world view. Our expert panel discusses the philosophical themes of the Warhammer Universe, their expression in the games, and how they relate to the work of HPL.
38. The Taste of Ashes: Delta Green
Elite government operatives fight a desperate covert war against Mythos threats and government conspiracies across the globe in this classic RPG. Panelists, including some of the founders and prominent DG authors, discuss the development, mythology, and history of the setting, as well as aspects of running a successful campaign.
39. How to Game the Weird
Lovecraft’s creations featured in early iterations of role playing games, and since the emergence of “Call of Cthulhu” and its spinoffs, RPGs have increasingly explored—or exploited—cosmic horror in a Lovecraftian universe. Our experts discuss in ins and outs of designing and running a weird horror scenario. How does one create and maintain suspense when players know the Mythos and the tropes? How do different games systems either lend themselves to, or undermine, an atmosphere of horror?
40. Weird Art Panel
From Hieronymus Bosch to Banksy, a certain cadre of artists have always been devoted to the Surreal, the unexpected, and the disruptive. With the emergence of new technologies, we seem at times to live in a utopia of weird art. What are the current limits, if any, in depicting an atmosphere of the ineffable, and what developing trends are likely to take root and flourish? Panelists discuss their experiences and sources of inspiration.
41. The Dreamlands and Dream Narrative in HPL
Dreams figure prominently in the work of Lovecraft, both in his Dream Cycle stories and in other work. Our panelists explore the geography and denizens of the Dreamlands, and his use of dreams in general in fiction and poetry. What were the major influences on his dream writing and how did his own dreams invade his waking life? How have Mythos writers expanded on or modified his ideas since? Close your eyes and find out!
42. Favorite Call of Cthulhu Scenarios
Which Call of Cthulhu RPG scenarios stand out the most for a bunch of experienced Keepers and scenario writers? How does the written word inspire great game memories? Join Chaosium’s Mike Mason and a panel of experienced writers and Keepers to discover the scenarios have inspired them and left fond (or should that be nightmarish?) memories.
43. Creating Historical Settings for Call of Cthulhu
One of the freedoms presented by the Call of Cthulhu RPG is the ability to set your games in any era, from the Stone Age through the Roaring Twenties to the Modern-Day and beyond! With the 1920s/30s era being particularly popular, how does one go about creating the right flavor, tone, and feel of a particular epoch? Where do you start if creating a historical setting? Join Call of Cthulhu Line Editor Mike Mason and an invited guest panel to lift the hood on creating and running games set in very different times.