Speculative horror could catapult the genre back into the public consciousness.
Cool read! I’m a fan of really any genre x with horror, it usually seems to work. I’ve been reading a lot of Cormac McCarthy lately, on Blood Meridian right now, and the way he blends western and horror is just incredible. Such a freaky, unsettling, yet perfect western journey… of hunting for scalps deep in Mexico of course.
To me, horror is more effective when it's understated and leaves the reader to fill in the details from the darkest depths of his imagination. It's easier to do that with writing than in films, where you usually get to face the monster head on. Beowulf is probably one of the earliest horror stories and even now it makes me shudder. Back in the 50s and 60s, there were a lot of horror films on TV, such as The Fly, that we might laugh at today but they sure seemed creepy back then. Around 1960 I saw a film version of Jules Verne's The Time Machine, where the monsters were a devolved race of cannibalistic humans. Verne may have invented sci-fi/horror, as he wrote in the 1800s.
Fun essay, lots more ideas to play with. Thanks.
I've been playing around with blending horror into fantasy and scifi but it often ends up a Lovecraftian, even my AI horror novella The Ghost in the Machine did. Perhaps because technology and knowledge are closely linked and so forbidden knowledge becomes forbidden tech and BANG you're in scifi lovecraft town.
You're right that there's a lot to delve into and I am going to keep at it and hope others do too. I don't read much horror outside of the few writers on SubStack but I am strongly intrigued by the epic fantasy x horror potential.
This was interesting. However, as a horror writer, I feel the need to point out that the genre is niche but very much alive!
Sci-fi horror is a pretty well established genre, but IMO it's very difficult to make fantasy horror work because the characters are usually special and super talented at fighting. (This applies less to low fantasy) Horror is typically a genre about ordinary people for a reason.
Always interested in this subject, as I’ve definitely veered towards giving my fantasy projects an edge of horror in the last few years.
I think it’s interesting to note that, even as horror remains a fairly niche genre, it seems to really be thriving in fiction podcasts. The Left Right Game and The Magnus Archives were both pretty popular, and both of them were very cosmic/Lovecraftian horror, which to me usually has some fantasy tones to it
Thanks for this Brian
It’s an interesting idea. I guess King did kind of do it in The Dark Tower where there are robot trains, dark wizards and horrific monsters. Barker is still the master through Weaveworld, Galilee and Imajica
Interestingly this made me think of role playing campaigns from back in the day when there were no limits. We played one called Expedition to the Barrier Peaks which was set on a spaceship with robots, aliens but it had also been invaded by the usual fantastical monsters from D&D. You still played as your usual character so you fought these robots with magic etc but also weapons you found on board. It was great fun! Although not too much horror I suppose. Bottom line is, merging genre’s can work. Folks just need to let their imaginations go wild!
I enjoyed this essay, Brian.
I've made efforts to blend horror and science fiction in my writing. One example is my second novel, Under a Fallen Sun. It grew out of a horror story I wrote in college and blends sci-fi elements with horror (think Under the Dome meets Island of Dr. Moreau). While Under a Fallen Sun has horror DNA, it is also a science fiction story. Specific plot elements and a specific major character from the narrative tie directly into my Alien People Chronicles trilogy.
Excellent piece, Brian. Lots to think on. I really should read some Barker. I don't know why I never have!
Very interesting read! I recently began reading some iconic horror novels and I’m excited to continue. This reminded me to pick up Clive Barker as well.
It’s strange, because while horror is still extremely popular, certain aspects of it have become less popular. For me it’s the slasher genre in film, although it has recently had a great resurgence. Perhaps the same could happen with some of the niche genres in novels as well!
I love this topic (See, also, Slipstream and Science Fantasy). And I'm working on short pieces in all of the above, including horror. Wish me luck (or providence or skills or enlightenment or salvation, depending... <g>)
BTW, the photo you posted is a graphic representation of what's implied but not stated. Why should hands on a riverbank be horrific, and yet they appear gruesome.