Posts filed under ‘Horror’
The first time I stumbled on a piece of creepypasta, I had no idea what it was. A friend had posted a link to it on Facebook, and since this particular friend always posts interesting things, I clicked through and read it.
I can’t even remember what it was about, now. Maybe a dead girlfriend haunting a teenager. It definitely involved doctored photos, and it was written in an unusual style that contributed to my confusion. I’m pretty sure it was on r/No Sleep, a sub Reddit forum where people tell creepy stories and other readers engage actively with the poster. The story evolved over a series of posts, after which the original poster suddenly disappeared, causing an interesting tension with the readers.
Then there was the time I discovered Slenderman. If you’re not familiar, I believe the general understanding is that Slenderman is a made-up character based on a series of doctored photos that show a preternaturally tall, gangly figure in the shadows, luring children into his clutches. The thing is, though Slenderman isn’t real, he is in the minds of at least two teenagers, who said they were inspired by him to perform real-life murders.
These are only two examples of creepypasta, a viral fiction form that lives on the Internet and is inseparable from it. I know this doesn’t sound literary, but hear me out. (more…)
My first Stephen King novel was The Shining, which I probably would not have read if I had been left to my own devices. But it was one of those books that I either had to read for a course at school or one of my friends had to read it and wanted to discuss it — I can’t remember exactly which it was, but I do remember being surprised by how much I enjoyed it. That novel is the epitome of everything a person feels when they are in a big house alone, that in fact, you’re not alone, and the thing that’s with you wants to hurt you.
I was fascinated by King’s ability to delve into the human psyche and find the things that scare us, precisely putting his finger not only on what scares us, but why. Really, people in masks shouldn’t be scary, right? But they are…because you can’t see their faces. Why are we scared of large, empty buildings? Because we secretly feel like they’re not empty, they’re haunted by something we can’t see. I devoured this book, watched the movie, found myself annoyed by the mom, but ultimately pretty satisfied by the experience.
Since that reading, I hadn’t thought much about King. I read a lot right before bed, so you can see why horror stories would not necessarily be appealing. I read Carrie at some point for school, watched The Green Mile with my dad, and otherwise just didn’t think much about King’s work.
Then, I stumbled on 11/22/63, a story of a man who stumbles on a wormhole back into 1958 and has to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. I was immediately hooked. I love alternate histories, and this had all of the makings of a great book.
It’s hard to discuss the plot without spoilers, but let me first say that this book was absolutely charming. (more…)
“A book can make you find room in yourself for something you never thought you’d understand. Or worse, something you never wanted to understand.”
Sometimes it legitimately stuns me that I can be fine with reading all kinds of violence I would never, ever want to see, even on television. A Song of Ice and Fire is a perfect example — I can read about war gore and creepy wraith-things and children choking to death all day long, but give me a choking death scene on a screen, and I find myself short of breath and unable to watch. Yikes.
Anyway, this was really driven home to me with Glenn Duncan’s latest work, By Blood We Live. Werewolves are constantly ripping people’s hearts out and eating them, as it turns out, murdering normal people in their homes for no apparent reason apart from the fact that these people aren’t special like they are.
M.R. Carey, author of The Girl with All the Gifts, wrote in a piece for Orbit Publishing’s website that horror that involves beings such as vampires, werewolves and other human-like creatures is truly only scary because, in essence, those creatures are us. They are all a reflection of various aspects of the human spirit and experience, or, as he says:
…we’re forced to confront, in the monster, aspects of our own nature that are disturbing, frightening or hard to acknowledge.
Which is an interesting point when you consider that a huge and growing segment of popular literature these days involves vampires, werewolves and zombies. What does it say about readers that we seem to be becoming more and more drawn to these monsters who exaggerate the qualities of which we are most ashamed?
One particular creature that fascinates me is the werewolf. From simple shape-shifters who retain human intelligence while in animal form to half-man, half-beast monsters who may or may not have to sacrifice their morals to the needs of “the beast,” werewolves run the gamut — and often say more about humans than the actual human characters do.
(This is part two of a series on how zombie stories show us what it means to be human, using Parasite by Mia Grant and a special extended preview of The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. Part one can be found here. Also, SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS.)
It seems pretty clear that both Sal and Melanie are “people.” Sure, Melanie struggles against her destructive nature, the side of her that is an uncontrollable animal that wants to feast on human flesh, but who doesn’t struggle against unwanted urges from time to time, even if it’s as simple as resisting a third slice of chocolate cake? And Sal is undetectable from a human being in terms of cognitive function and non-cognitive qualities such as emotion, empathy, and love (she loves her dog, for example, and her family), even though her entire brain is wrapped in a tapeworm.
Since the only things both the beings called Melanie and Sal would seem to have in common with humans is a human body, this seems to suggest that if any being had access to the infrastructure of the human brain, we would quickly see that they are “people” as well. On one level, it’s a pretty biology-based concept of humanity — that if any being had the correct physiology, it would become something we recognize as a person. (more…)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula follow-up The Jewel of the Seven Stars is best-billed as a supernatural Egyptomaniacal Victorian novel. It’s almost unbelievable the lengths to which Stoker went in his novel to make it fit, with blazing accuracy at all points, into all three of those categories. (more…)
Drood has been on my reading list for quite some time now, and after Corey’s review a few weeks ago, I was even more motivated. As you’ve probably surmised, I am an absolute Charles Dickens nut, and the idea of a book that had Dickens and Wilkie Collins hunting down an evil Egyptian crime lord was absolutely fascinating to me.
As I began reading, however, I came to realize that the plot mentioned above is almost beside the point. Really this novel is a vehicle in which author Dan Simmons combines Dickens’ biographical information, myths and rumors surrounding the works of both Dickens and Collins, characteristics of 19th century literature in general, and even contemporary fantasy. (more…)