Today is the 119th birthday of Howard Philips Lovecraft, one of the most influential writers of the last century (depending, of course, on who you ask).
Lovecraft's work inspired artists like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, John Carpenter, and HR Geiger. In the Land of Nerds, where I frolic, his writings are considered one of the foundations of our shared cultural context, much like quotes from Star Wars or Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Now, his writing itself isn't what we remember: It's the mythology he created, where immense alien intelligences strive to accomplish unknowable goals in a cold, uncaring universe where the only beings who matter are gods whose very form would force mortals into stark madness. Lovecraft wanted to craft a universe that would frighten even atheists like himself, and this concept - there were things Man Was Not Meant To Know - has stood the test of time.
Some of his writing may be found here, with my favorite story (Herbert West: Reanimator) located here.