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Old 05-01-2009, 03:57 PM
BrainGlutton is offline
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Tampa, Florida
Posts: 78,508
As noted above, most of H.P. Lovecraft's horror-fantasy is set in America, specifically in Lovecraft Country. The British-or-otherwise-non-American equivalent is Campbell Country. The distinction between them illustrates the difference between the Old and New Worlds as fantasy settings. From the latter link:

Lovecraft Country is typically set in New England, home of horror writers Howard Phillips Lovecraft and Stephen King, and their respective followers/imitators. This makes it a difficult place for writers of Lovecraftian Fiction who do not have a Yankee background to write about.

The solution was suggested to British writer Ramsey Campbell by Lovecraft follower August Derleth: Create your own equivalent in a place you know, either your home country or a place you have visited. This has led to the creation of variant Lovecraftian settings appropriate to other locales.

Shifting the setting of a Cosmic Horror Story to, for instance, England presents problems. As the old saying goes, "An Englishman thinks a hundred miles is a long way while an American thinks a hundred years is a long time." In other words, England is a much smaller country with a much longer history. It's much easier to believe that an English village was the site of some dreadful secret dating back to medieval, Roman or Pagan times. (No matter how "ancient" and "witch-haunted" HPL thought Arkham was, no US town is much more than 400 years old. This problem is sometimes avoided by stating that the natives were doing unspeakable things before colonisation - however, this merely carries the increased risk of Unfortunate Implications.) However, it's much harder to believe that cosmic events could happen in little ol' England and nobody would notice whereas in a big place like the United States (even in a single region like New England), isolation comes relatively cheap. (Essentially, in Lovecraft Country, the old secrets are very secret, whereas in Campbell Country the old secrets are very old.)

By contrast, small European and British settings are far better for simpler horror stories, such as haunted house tales, as there are so many old houses, castles and abbeys around the place.