Professor Harding, educated at a college in Alabama (I’m guessing Tuskegee) and Yale, comes to Maine to pursue a line of inquiry no one else wants: shoggoths. “Shoggoths in Bloom“, by Elizabeth Bear depicts in wonderful, luscious prose the beauty of the Maine shore and sky, as well as the discomfort and wary approaches between Harding and the townspeople. The grandson of a buffalo soldier, Harding is pained by the racism he meets with, and appalled by the anti-semitism at home and abroad.
While using many of Lovecraft’s elements, this story is closer to “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath” than “The Dunwich Horror.” Everything that horrified Lovecraft–nonwhite people, strange creatures, the depth of time, even the uncaring vastness of the universe–hold not dread for us, but fascination. By stripping away elements that just seem silly, we get to keep the cool ideas. The shoggoths become marvelous, beautiful creatures. Even their most disturbing qualities are nothing compared to the true horrors of the twentieth century.