Because he is an awful writer? I know that Duncan is going to kick me for this, but I did give the man a chance; although I had giving up on him, I was persuaded to read
, and made a good faith effort to like it. But even that supposed magnum opus was bad. Not as bad as most of his other stuff, but still quite bad. I wrote a short analysis of it, but
Which doesn't mean I cannot enjoy a good Lovecraft-inspired game. I loved
, both of which are explicitly based on Lovecraft. But even there, although these games are very good and I enjoyed them greatly, it was the Lovecraft stuff that least appealed to me. Why? I tried to explain that in my analysis of
Lovecraftian horror is a strange genre, because its very premises set the writer up for failure. For what is its essence? Lovecraft took the gothic tale of terror and pushed it towards transcendence--a dark, anti-humanistic transcendence. Perhaps it is said most clearly in the first sentences of his famous The Call of Cthulhu
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
One can immediately see why this vision is attractive to the reader and the writer of horror: where the gothic tale was always only an escape from the rationality of our daily lives, never to be taken quite seriously, the Lovecraftian tale presents itself as a full-fledged alternative to rationalism. Yes, your science seems useful... but! You believe you understand the universe... but! With Lovecraft, horror gains a metaphysical import which it had hitherto lacked.
So why do I claim it sets the writer up for failure? Because those things and beings that are so alien that mere knowledge of them makes us insane, cannot be represented, cannot be captured in language--and of course it is precisely the writer's job to put his subject matter in language. At the end of a Lovecraftian tale, when the horror finally appears in person, the writer has only three basic options. First, he can try to describe the monster, as an "awful squid-head with writhing feelers" for instance. Second, he can describe the effect of seeing the monster on human beings: "Of the six men who never reached the ship, he thinks two perished of pure fright in that accursed instant." Third, he can tell (rather than show) us that the horror transcends human categories: "The Thing cannot be described—there is no language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order." Or he can do some combination of the three, as Lovecraft did in The Call of Cthulhu
, from which all these citations were taken.
But each of these three possibilities is a failure. If the thing is described, we laugh. Writhing feelers? It's only a giant squid! Are we supposed to believe in the metaphysical import of giant squids, and science's inability to deal with them? If we are told that the people around the horror go mad, we rightly ask why
they go mad. What happens to them? What do they see? In what sense is this thing not just a giant squid? If, finally, the writer tells us that the horror cannot be put into words, he merely admits his own failure as a writer. Thus, we have a trilemma from which no escape is possible--and Lovecraft himself is among those who fail to escape, as is shown by passages like this one: "The Thing cannot be described—there is no language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order. A mountain walked or stumbled." A mountain stumbled? Did it trip over its own foothills, or what? The image evokes laughter rather than terror.
I don't know if this is helpful to you, but it is my explanation of why there is such a thing as Lovecraft hate.