European Review of Speculative Fiction

Andor Bochenkov

Title: Rainbringer: Zora Neale Hurston against the Lovecraftian mythos

Author: Edward M Erdelac

What more accurately portrays the monsters who bomb harbors, experiment on the poor, rape and torture their slaves, and generally view the entirety of the world as resources to be strip mined with locust-like alacrity than an amorphous group of hideous abominations standing beyond all sanity, lurking in the shadows of human decency? Rainbringer: Zora Neale Hurston against the Lovecraftian mythos sings with vibrant courage and invention. This alternate universe Hurston calls the Outer Gods “motherfuckers” and sees them as just one more inconvenience in a long line of outrages and obstacles placed in her way by the white world. By placing his Zora into the fight and showcasing her love of African culture’s influence upon American life, Erdelac sends forth a whole new way to see Lovecraft: as the prophet of American racism.

There’s a rumbling ugly culture war going on in academia started in many ways by the kinds of trailblazing ethnologists and folklorists like Hurston who challenged the pedantic and openly racist worldview of white academia. Ed knows white people and uses his intimacy of experience to transmit that unsettling and at times truly horrifying ways bigotry has stained the world. It makes sense then that the author could fill the gaps in Hurston’s academic and literary biography with a cohesive lacing of Cthulhu mythos between the real-life interstices of her studies of African syncretism, Voodon, and the Black American experience.

Here Rainbringer, servant of Yig, moves through a world where the derided underclass have viable solutions to the various grotesque and cosmically dangerous threats that oblivious whites continue to engender in the world. By embracing Lovecraft’s trope of the Other as threat, Erdelac manages to show that for the former slaves and freedom fighters who became the African American diaspora, Whiteness defines Otherness, a horror that pervades every crack in the edifice of their civilization from broken pavement to shattered souls. The mythic nature of these gods and demons demonstrates without a word spent making the analogy that there’s something far more terrifying than the cosmic indifference of loathsome gods: racism.