“The Colour Out Of Space” is a 1927 science fiction novelette by H.P. Lovecraft. It is about a meteorite that falls from the sky in the 1880’s and the devastating consequences it has upon the people in a rural New England town.
Non-Spoiler Summary In A Nutshell:
The story begins as our narrator is surveying the New England countryside for a proposed reservoir and he happens upon the “blasted heath” – five acres of grey desolation, sickly trees and hauntingly creepy feelings. Determined to learn the story of what happened he tracks down an old man named Ammi who tells him a most disturbing story: It all began in 1882 when a meteorite crashed onto Nahum Gardner’s property. Well, this created quite a stir and scientists and reporters soon showed up to investigate. The problem was that the meteorite was made of an extremely strange material – and it was shrinking more and more each day. Finally it dissolved into the ground, but that wasn’t the end – oh no, the problems were only getting started as the Gardner family was about to discover in horrible detail!
When I went into the hills and vales to survey for the new reservoir they told me the place was evil. They told me this in Arkham, and because that is a very old town full of witch legends I thought the evil must be something which grandams had whispered to children through centuries. The name “blasted heath” seemed to me very odd and theatrical, and I wondered how it had come into the folklore of a Puritan people. Then I saw that dark westward tangle of glens and slopes for myself, and ceased to wonder at anything beside its own elder mystery. It was morning when I saw it, but shadow lurked always there. The trees grew too thickly, and their trunks were too big for any healthy New England wood. There was too much silence in the dim alleys between them, and the floor was too soft with the dank moss and mattings of infinite years of decay.
My Two Cents:
• The good:
- If you like strange, creepy tales then you are sure to love “The Colour Out Of Space”. The slow, suspenseful build up leads to several horrific events that left chills on my arms! Very scary.
- The whole idea of using colors to enrich this story was awesome. The bland greys and blacks set against the vibrant colors of life provided excellent contrast.
- The detailed and meticulous story telling style served this piece very well. The detailed build up of all the problems caused by the meteorite really enhanced this story.
• The bad:
- “The Colour Out Of Space” was written a long time ago and as such has a lot of outdated words, several quaint phrases and a very different story telling style. Mostly this wasn’t a problem, but there were a few places where I was like “what?”
• Page Count: 20
• Word Count: 12,196
• “The Colour Out Of Space” garnered the following awards:
- It placed 26th in the 1999 Locus All-Time Poll for best novelette.
- It was ranked 12th in the 1971 Astounding / Analog All-Time Poll, pre-1940 short fiction category.
Where you can find “The Colour Out Of Space”:
- This novelette first appeared in the September 1927 issue of Amazing Stories.
- “The Colour Out Of Space” is included in H.P. Lovecraft’s chilling collection The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories.
- You can read this story at several different places on the web, but I found a nice version at Yankee Classic.
Some Interesting Links:
- Did you know that Howard Phillips Lovecraft is the creator of the strange yet popular Cthulhu Mythos? Yep. You can learn more about this science fiction and horror author at Wikipedia.
Craving More Stories?
If you enjoyed this story then you might also like The Hanging Stranger, about the one man in Pikeville who notices a dead stranger hanging from a lamp post in the middle of town, by Philip K. Dick.