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The Horror!

This may be blasphemy to the Horror genre, but I hate what it is anymore. The classical horror of the Victorian era let the imagination of the reader fill in the blanks allowing for more “horror” than bombarding people with gore. Yes, I know, death is a part of the genre, but in recent decades, death and gore isn’t a consequence, but the point of the story instead. In fact, story takes a back seat to gore and death for much of horror. I would like to challenge people to see the beauty in classical horror.

The setting is a rarely traveled part of the world, perhaps the woods, and there is either a killer or monster lurking. Unfortunately, a group of stupid college students go in that region and get picked off one by one in terrible and gruesome ways. This is the sort of thing that passes as horror anymore, with few exceptions. I enjoy tales of werewolves, in fact my upcoming book will include them, but gaining inspiration was pretty challenging because there are very few quality werewolf stories out there.

I enjoy stories that are based around suspense and unknown with supernatural elements. This is what horror used to be. It isn’t just horror that has changed, fantasy has grown darker and grittier. Dark and gritty isn’t inherently, bad but both modern fantasy and horror have grown incredibly cynical in their messages. In horror most of the time everyone dies brutally, life is cheep, and it seems fantasy is adopting that approach as well. Why is that? Storytelling tends to follow cultural trends, have some genre fiction stories gotten darker, horror much earlier than others, due to an increasingly cynical outlook on life? Is it due to changing tastes that accompany an evolving culture? What if storytellers focused on plot and character development over pushing boundaries instead? At this point it is hard to imagine any boundary that hasn’t been pushed anyway, perhaps all of us who craft stories need to examine why we write them and what is their purpose.

Halloween is Near!

At the writing of this blog, Halloween is a little less than a month away. Unless you are a hermit, you know what it is all about, and even if you are a hermit, I’m guessing you are still familiar with the holiday. Most of its imagery and themes are lined up with the Horror genre. However, witches, ghosts, and demons all find their place in Fantasy as well.

In my last blog post, I stated that there is a clear boundary between Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. I still stand by that statement and defend it, but that isn’t to say that I cannot appreciate the overlaps as well. Often things such as ghosts are presented in a much different way in Fantasy than in Horror. In Horror, ghosts are generally horrific and killers. In fantasy, spiritual beings may not necessarily be villainous, and they sometimes offer guidance or serve as a metaphor. They also appear in the form of The Army of the Dead that helps to deliver the people of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings films.

Horror may not be the genre I write, but that does not mean I cannot appreciate the imagination at Halloween. Witches and sorcerers, main Halloween staples, appear in fantasy stories such as Harry Potter or The Once and Future King.

Halloween reminds me of the power of imagination and can be very inspiring for me. What people choose to dress up as, what characters inspire them, and how people carve their jack-o-lanterns are all things that show the creativity of the human spirit. It is that creativity mixed with reality that forges Fantasy, and brings with it the question, “How much of this is really fantasy?”