H.P. Lovecraft's "The Colour out of Space" is an eerie short story that describes the decline and death of a rural family after the fall of a meteorite. The story is appropriate for literature study and can also provide an interdisciplinary experience for science or history students. As a teacher, I assign the story in a class dealing with Astronomy of the Solar System along with stories by Ray Bradbury (The Third Expedition
) and Arthur C. Clarke (The Sentinel
The 29 question reading guide queries students about specific events and vocabulary in the story. The Zip file download includes two versions of the reading guide (short answer and multiple choice), an answer key, and a list of extension questions related to science, history, and literature. I also include a student reading copy of "The Colour out of Space". Files are provided in both PDF and MS Word formats.
Background: H.P. Lovecraft was an author of short fiction who lived in the early twentieth century. His stories were published in "pulp" magazines such as Weird Tales and Amazing Stories. Little-known in life, Lovecraft's work would later have a huge impact on science and horror genre fiction. Many current authors, such as Stephen King, cite Lovecraft as a primary influence.
Lovecraft's fiction can be categorized as a blend of horror and science fiction, and his limitless imagination created a universe of horrors and wonders. His writing is dense, adjective-filled, and utterly unique. Lovecraft is the creator of an imaginary book named the Necronomicon, and he also invented great Cthulhu, a powerful extraterrestrial being confined to a city at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Lovecraft invented a prehistory where earth suffers the whims of indifferent forces characterized as the Great Old Ones. These beings were worshipped in prehistory and continue to have a malign influence on human civilization. Encounters with the Old Ones usually result in insanity or an overwhelming realization of the utter insignificance of the earth and humanity.