Myths and Mysteries
I've been thinking about mythology quite a bit lately. Much of my more recent writing work has involved the Cthulhu Mythos; I've been doing quite a bit of work for Modiphius Entertainment at their Achtung! Cthulhu tabletop role-playing game line. This mythology, created by H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton SMith, August Derleth and many others, postulates that the universe is a vast place and that human beings are not the center of it, as we had supposed for centuries. This was a new concept in the 1930s, and as one can imagine, not a popular one with scholars, academics and the clergy. Regardless, it caught on with readers to some degree, and was rediscovered -- thanks in no small part to the tireless efforts of August Derleth to keep Lovecraft's writing alive -- in the late 1960s.
One of the more interesting aspects of this mythos is its inclusivity; anyone can add to it. There are no official high priests to declare what is and is not canon -- only self-appointed ones. That others could build on his work was Lovecraft's wish, stated explicitly in letters to friends who had also contributed stories and ideas. I believe it was the first shared-world concept in literature, and remains a successful one to this day. That inclusivity has brought new blood and new ideas to the fold -- not all of it good, of course, but the vast majority of the material is well worth reading, if you like reading that sort of thing to begin with.
I cut my teeth on classic mythology: the Greeks, the Norse, the Egyptians, the Aztecs, all had fascinating stories designed to explain why Things Are The Way They Are. In this day and age we have a greater understanding of science -- mostly -- and have a better grasp of which things are natural phenomena and which are not. Science itself has nearly become a religion, supplanting the hazy explanations of the past with facts and logic of today. As our knowledge increases, we will doubtless learn more about the supernatural and paranormal, and when we do we may find, like so many of the protagonists in Lovecraft's work, that the real story is both far more interesting and vastly more terrifying than we had imagined.
Bill Bodden has been writing in the tabletop gaming industry for more than a decade. His latest works include material in the Achtung! Cthulhu Keeper's Guide, and is currently working on a project for White Wolf Publishing/CCP. His most recent fiction is the story "In The Shadow Of His Glory" in Sidekicks! from Alliteration, Ink. Visit Bill's website at www.billbodden.com