Whereas Victorian writers could rely on repressed sexuality to generate unease, today’s horror and fantasy novels put sex on the front cover. But the best new examples of the genre still bring up the things we don’t like to talk about.
When Bram Stoker penned Dracula in 1897, Eastern Europe was still remote for most Britons. But Jonathan Harker’s tortuous overland journey to Transylvania would today be a short hop on a budget airline. And Count Dracula, as both a Romanian immigrant and wealthy foreign plutocrat, would be attacked on arrival first by the Daily Mail for taking our jobs, and then the Guardian for forcing up property prices in the capital.
The fear of foreigners that fuelled Dracula is nothing today but a tabloid scare story, putting it alongside the other great fear of Victorian society – sex – which has also been reduced to mere page filler. Mina Harker doth protest too much when the sexy Vlad Dracula turns up in place of her dowdy solicitor husband. Today’s horror heroines, like vampire hunter Anita Blake, are just as likely to screw a vampire as slay them.
Read more @ Guardian Books
Three hours of writing in the library this evening (praise good for university libraries open until 2 am!) and I have found the ending of a new story! Kree Ah Tor has been sitting on my desktop, slowly accruing words for some months. The main sticking point has been the end. I started the story with a very clear end in mind, but once I wrote my way there it just did not work. And then tonight an ending popped into my head, and I think it’s the right one. Kree Ah Tor is a very weird story, probably my weirdest, and the most clearly ‘New Weird’ thing I have written. Hurrah for weirdness!
Weird things that have caught my eye…
I’ve been going easy on writers of literary fiction recently. But after reading this truly dispiriting article about writers who use their fiction to make thinly veiled attacks on other writers, I think I might be making a mistake. No wonder nobody bothers reading these people…
Alison Flood interviews Joe Hill. I rate Hill’s short fiction right up there with Kelly Link and Ted Chiang. Which reminds me, need to re-read 20th Century Ghosts
There’s a wealth of talent out there – so who will be the SF and fantasy authors of tomorrow?
The Guardian’s recent quest to catalogue the 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read scoured the vast galaxy of tales told under the banner of “science fiction and fantasy”, and boiled them down to a few dozen of the many invented worlds the genre has to offer. From the fey fantasy of Susanna Clarke to the hard-boiled cyberpunk of William Gibson, from pulp adventure to high literature, the list provides enough great reading to keep most of us happy for half a lifetime at least.
Read more at the Guardian book blog.