I've been reading a lot of horror this year. More than I usually do, which was already a large amount. I've been feeling the need for extreme escapism. And despite the truism that good horror reflects current societal fears, I still find it very escapist. Recently, I shared this article from Tor about women characters in … Continue reading Why read horror?
Reading has slowed down, although I have one new recommendation to post shortly. I reread The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin with my son, which I think was a bit too old for him, but I still love it. I also reread Dracula on audio. I last read Dracula as a pre-teen or youngish teen. I don't remember exactly when, … Continue reading Reading journal: Mid-February
I have never been a huge fan of short stories. I prefer to seek my teeth into something meatier, a novel. Short story collections by a single author have always felt particularly unsatisfying to me. Invariably, the stories vary in quality but share similar themes, insights, and style, so that they all start to run … Continue reading Book review: Three Themed Anthologies
I try to define gothic fiction and why I love it so much: Gothic horror: We’re all mad here | Noir Femme
I discuss a less brutal and, I think, more realistic approach to the post-apocalyptic novel in this essay.
This essay also discusses Into the Forest (Jean Hegland; 1996);A Gift Upon the Shore (M.K. Wren; 1990); and Always Coming Home (Ursula K. Le Guin; 1985), among various other stalwarts of the post-apocalyptic sub-genre. There will be spoilers for these books.
Pop quiz, hotshot. It’s the apocalypse: What do you do? What. Do. You. Do?
If hundred (thousands?) of post-apocalyptic books and movies are to believed, you break out your cache of automatic weapons, gun down every guy you see, capture a woman and lock her in a cage for later, then chow down on some roasted baby.
There is a certain amount of wish fulfillment going on there. The apocalypse novel is one part fear, one part fantasy. All the rules are suddenly gone; you can do whatever you want! It’s a dim view of humanity that assumes that all people want to do is murder, rape, and…
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Of all the sub-genres crowded under the broad umbrella of "speculative fiction," slipstream is probably the trickiest to nail down. Bruce Sterling, who coined the term, called slipstream "...a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility." (Presumably, … Continue reading The slippery genre of slipstream…
Yes, I’ve started a new blog project called Noir Femme. This one is kind of a sister project to Sci Femme, about women writing horror and dark fiction, as opposed to science fiction. But before I could get started on the reading, I had to identify (for myself, anyway) exactly what horror is. Here’s my stab at it.
Horror has one goal: to disturb. To remind us that we don’t have all the answers. To explode our illusions of being in control.
There may be monsters or the supernatural, but there doesn’t have to be.
There may be blood, gore, and guts, but there doesn’t have to be.
There may be psycho killers running around with axes, but again, it’s not necessary.
Horror can be, and often is, scary, but more important is a lingering feeling of unease, a delicious sensation of being unsettled.
The best horror takes place in our living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms. The best horror shatters the comfortable little worlds we’ve constructed for ourselves. It pulls back the veil and reveal the things in the shadows. Horror helps us understand exactly how insignificant we are in a vast, unknowable universe.
It reminds us that we are animals, and sometimes we are monsters. It reminds us…
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This year, for the first time, I tried reading around a theme or focus. The focus I picked was mysteries, a genre I have not paid much attention to since I devoured them as a youngster. To tell the truth, I really didn't get focused until around August, so most of my reading was random … Continue reading Reading with focus, or the annual theme read…
The kind of fiction I like to read the most, and that I tend to focus on here, falls under the broad umbrella of "speculative fiction." I've never been entirely comfortable with the traditional genre labels of science fiction, fantasy and horror. The definitions that are most often applied to these genres seem so limiting, … Continue reading What is speculative fiction?