The Guardian asked a bunch of famous science fiction authors who their favorite sci-fi authors are as a way to help celebrate the opening of the British Library's science fiction exhibition Out of this World. Of course someone -- in this case SF author Russell Hoban -- named H.P. Lovecraft as their favorite.
Here's what Hoban had to say about HPL:
The main thing about HP Lovecraft is his too-muchness; he never uses three adjectives when five will do, but he writes words that haunt the memory: "In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming." My recall of the multiplication table is shaky but those words disquiet me today as freshly as when I first read them.
Where did dead Cthulhu come from? Why did he rise up from the murky depths of Lovecraft's mental ocean? I say it's because there is a need for him and the rest of the maestro's monsters. Why is there such an appetite, such a hunger for scary stories and films? I think there is a primal horror in us. From where? From the Big Bang when Something came out of Nothing? From the nothingness we must become at life's end? I don't know, but I know it's there and we like to dress it up with a bolt through its neck or a black rubber alien suit; or as Cthulhu. Get a load of this: "A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings", with elements of "an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature", "but it was the general outline of the whole that made it most shockingly frightful". Close your eyes and try to imagine this creature of non-Darwinian evolution. Just the look of this bozo is already a major horror, and we're not even into the story yet. While he's dead and dreaming in his house at R'lyeh ("Dun Foamin"?) his Cthulhuvibes are spreading worldwide and causing strange rites and observances here and there. Lovecraft is not everybody's mug of Ovaltine but I have always found him horribly cosy.