Now this is an interesting one! The Lovecraft Invasion was supposed to be released last month, but ended up being delayed due to “production issues”, which most people assumed was probably due to Lovecraft being an out-and-proud racist and the current culture of condemning such historical figures. Sure enough, thanks to a preview that went out before the “issues”, this is indeed what happened, and it led to some rather on-the-nose character assassination of the titular author. I mean, I hate racists with a passion, but there were more subtler option available, I’m sure… *hand waving gesture* anyway, ignoring that, what’s the actual story like?! Good question!
The Doctor, Constance and Flip join forces with 51st-century bounty hunter, Calypso Jonze, to hunt down the Somnifax: a weaponised mind-parasite capable of turning its host’s nightmares into physical reality. Chasing it through the time vortex to Providence, Rhode Island in 1937, they arrive too late to stop it from latching onto a local author of weird fiction… Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
With time running out before Lovecraft’s monstrous pantheon breaks free and destroys the world, the Doctor must enter Lovecraft’s mind to fight the psychic invader from within.
Can he and Flip overcome the eldritch horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos? And will Constance and Calypso survive babysitting the infamously xenophobic Old Gentleman of Providence himself?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The core premise is that a mind-parasite called the Somnifax attaching itself to the mind of H.P. Lovecraft (Alan Marriott) and begins to draw some of his twisted pantheon of beasts into the real world. In order to stop him, The Doctor and Flip enter his mind to do battle with it, while Constance and a random bounty hunter named Calypso Jonze (Robyn Holdaway) that was just added to the story for the hell of it (or because she’s in a good position to have a go at Lovecraft, more likely…) have to keep an eye on the author. It works well as a story idea, so long as you’re familiar with the author’s work (See below!). To be fair, Alan Marriott is good as Lovecraft, able to sound like a confused and somewhat bumbling introverted author who nonetheless has a high opinion of himself. He also plays Randolph Carter, apparently Lovecraft’s wish fulfilment character from the books, who is none too pleased to find out he went through hell in a war and worked hard at a university all because his creator failed to those things. It was an interesting and unique “arc” for any character to go through…
Say what you want about the story, can’t deny that’s another stunning cover!
The main problem is entirely based on how well you know the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Me? I’m only passingly familiar, I know of the Necronomicon, of Cthulhu and the other Elder Gods, or Ancient Ones, or… okay, maybe I’m not as familiar with those, by reputation, but I’ve never actually read or looked into any of his stuff. That meant for long stretches of this story I was having The Doctor and Flip trying to remember and name classic enemies and allies from his books and interact with them, and I was trying to catch up or just twiddling my thumbs because I had no real visual reference or attachment to what I was hearing (again, beyond Cthulhu)
The other issue is the heavy-handed nature of tackling Lovecraft’s racism. Now, again, I truly wish all racists would just… wake up and realise that we’re all one race and they’re just being cavemen to everyone else’s 21st century humans, BUT the way to convince them isn’t having The Doctor brow-beat Lovecraft in a preaching speech at the end of the story. There was a moment in Part 1 where The Doctor mentions how upsetting it can be to find out a childhood favourite author was an unpleasant person, and how it can dramatically affect your ability to read their work, THAT was perfect. Subtle and truthfully told in a well written piece of dialogue. I can only imagine maybe that was in the original script and the bits of hateful spite (ironically!) at the start and end were probably added to “cover them” during the scripting for the new official release.
Also, as I said, Calypso Jonze wasn’t a bad character, just dull. We missed her introduction and her actual personality was “generic bounty hunter just in it for the money”, which is why it wasn’t surprising when she then had a change of heart and gave the captured Somnifax to The Doctor rather than getting the reward. She was the very definition of stock character, with the exception of when she gave Lovecraft a verbal beating in the middle of the story, anyway…
Funnily enough, this doesn’t really connect to any other story that I can think of. It’s rare, but it still happens, from time to time…
The Lovecraft Invasion is probably a 4 if you’re really into his books and lore, a 3 if you’re really into his books and lore and don’t like being told to dislike them because of the author’s views, and for me, a 2, because nearly the entire purpose of the story went over my head. If nothing else, The Lovecraft Invasion will no doubt be a talking (a.k.a. forums argument) point for a while to come…