Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

Note: The following material ran in a recent issue of the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers quarterly newsletter, which I edit. Here’s the second part of the piece, along with my original introduction. I’ll be running contributions from the other writers who participated in the days ahead.

Several things inspired me to put this project together. But mainly, it’s because I still frequently encounter the tiresome “nerdy boys club” stereotype regarding speculative fiction writers and readers. The widespread perception that our branch of literature is the domain of emotionally and socially stunted man-children who don’t want icky girls in their club unless they happen to be wearing skimpy cosplay outfits at conventions.
I think it’s important that we speculative fiction writers do everything in our power to help dispel that stereotype, and make it clear that women are a major, vital and respected part of our community. So I reached out to a number of prominent woman science fiction, fantasy and horror authors and editors, and invited them to share their perspectives.
Tom Joyce

ELLEN DATLOW

Ellen Datlow hard at work in front of her booksEllen Datlow has been editing sf/f/h short fiction for over thirty years. She was fiction editor of OMNI Magazine and SCIFICTION and currently acquires and edits stories for Tor.com. She has edited more than sixty anthologies, including the annual “The Best Horror of the Year,” “Lovecraft’s Monsters,” “Fearful Symmetries,” “Nightmare Carnival,” “The Cutting Room,” and “Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells” (the latter two with Terri Windling).
Forthcoming are “The Doll Collection” and “The Monstrous.”
She’s won multiple World Fantasy Awards, Locus Awards, Hugo Awards, Stoker Awards, International Horror Guild Awards, Shirley Jackson Awards, and the 2012 Il Posto Nero Black Spot Award for Excellence as Best Foreign Editor. Datlow was named recipient of the 2007 Karl Edward Wagner Award, given at the British Fantasy Convention for “outstanding contribution to the genre”; has been honored with the Life Achievement Award given by the Horror Writers Association, in acknowledgment of superior achievement over an entire career, and the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award for 2014, which is presented annually to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to the fantasy field.

 

I’ve been editing short science fiction, fantasy, and horror since 1980. When I was promoted from Associate Fiction Editor to Fiction Editor of OMNI Magazine, there was some blowback against me for not emerging from fandom (which was overwhelmingly male and from which most of the sf editors up to that point came). There was some silly talk by a few male writers who criticized the entry of female sf editors into positions of power. These women — again, most of whom did not come out of fandom — were assumed to have had no experience in the genre, although we were all longtime readers of sf/f and we all worked our way up from the bottom.
I’ve been involved more with fantasy and horror than science fiction for a number of years so I’m not as familiar with who is writing what in science fiction these days. But my perception is that fewer writers are writing science fiction at all. Saying that, there are certainly many excellent female writers of science fiction and if a male editor chooses an entire sf anthology with stories only by men it means they just aren’t looking beyond their old boys network comfort zone.

Advertisements

Note: The following material ran in a recent issue of the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers quarterly newsletter, which I edit. Here’s the first part of the piece, along with my original introduction. I’ll be running contributions from the other writers who participated in the days ahead.

Several things inspired me to put this project together. But mainly, it’s because I still frequently encounter the tiresome “nerdy boys club” stereotype regarding speculative fiction writers and readers. The widespread perception that our branch of literature is the domain of emotionally and socially stunted man-children who don’t want icky girls in their club unless they happen to be wearing skimpy cosplay outfits at conventions.
I think it’s important that we speculative fiction writers do everything in our power to help dispel that stereotype, and make it clear that women are a major, vital and respected part of our community. So I reached out to a number of prominent woman science fiction, fantasy and horror authors and editors, and invited them to share their perspectives.
Tom Joyce

MARY SANGIOVANNI

SangiovanniMary SanGiovanni is the author of 10 horror and thriller books, one of which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, as well as numerous short stories. She has a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, Pittsburgh and teaches English classes at her local college. She is currently a member of The Authors Guild, The International Thriller Writers, and Penn Writers.

I think writers of my generation are in a unique position to have been able to observe first-hand how the industry has changed regarding the prominence of women in the horror field. In movies, we have seen women go from shrieking, fleeing victims to capable and quick-thinking heroines on screen; we have seen more women writing, directing, producing, and filming quality horror. We have seen a broader range of topics explored in horror, taking into account the psychology of fear from both male and female perspectives. And of course, in publishing, there are increasing numbers of women writers offering lasting and canonic works to the body of classic horror literature. These women, in the tradition of great horror writers before them, are stretching and breaking boundaries in the exploration of fear; they are finding new and terrifying ways to look at the world around them. Further, they are writing their work in their own way, not necessarily prone to be imitative of the historically male-dominated approach to horror. I believe it’s an over-simplification to state that works are intrinsically written in a masculine or feminine point of view; I think so much more goes into the crafting of a finely textured, deeply layered story than just a psychology or perspective based on sex or gender. However, I’d venture to say that women and men are often raised to fear different things, and further, to react and respond differently to those fears. This creates a variety of possible ways to present subject matter in a horror story that can be accessed by either men or women. The awareness of this, especially in modern horror fiction, has led to the creation of sophisticated works by both men and women which truly engage a wider audience. Horror is not about the mask that is worn, but the face beneath that mask; the root of fear an audience can understand and identify with is what drives a horror story, not the monster in which that fear is embodied, be it a boogeyman associated with the nightmares of man, or those of women. I believe that women have incorporated this notion into their work in order to overcome the stereotype that women’s horror is “soft” or “not scary.” Their work serves to prove that their own unique perspective of things can be absolutely scary, whether that is in spite of or because that perspective has been generated in a female mind.
My generation has largely been influenced by male horror writers (Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Dean Koontz, etc.) because men dominated the field for decades. I think it’s gratifying to see many new women horror writers listing both men AND women as influences in their own writing. I think that is as validating as anything else, because we, as writers, start out as fans of the genre. We simply want to contribute to the body of literature that inspired and shaped so much of our thoughts and feelings. It’s a powerful thing to know that readers and fans of the genre are reading more widely, taking chances on what in the past would have been dismissed, perhaps, as “fluff,” and finding in women writers’ works some truly frightening and memorable stories. It solidifies the idea that women are, in fact, taking part in continuing the literary tradition that they have so very much enjoyed.
We’ve come a long way from naked nubiles being carried off by buff and scaly monsters or swarmed by lascivious cultists. These stories have their place in the history of horror, as do any stories that speak specifically to a kind of horrific event, but it’s nice to see a broadening of ideas that can be interpreted as “horror” in our field. There is no shortage of emotion or action, deviant or otherwise, for writers to delve into.
I think it’s important to note, when discussing the topic of women horror writers, that true equality comes when writers are judged based solely on the merit of their work — when the time comes that horror writers are not identified first by gender and then by genre, but simply as writers in their field. I think the horror genre benefits from a rich diversity of voices and perspectives, not a narrowing of them. And I am proud and pleased to see that this seems to be the direction in which the horror genre is heading.

Mr. PeabodyNote from Tom Joyce: This is a piece from writer C.I. Kemp that ran in a recent issue of “The Speculator,” the newsletter for the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, which I am re-posting here with Kemp’s permission. In retrospect, the connection between Mr. Peabody and H.P. Lovecraft seems obvious, in light of the fact … in light of the fact … Ah hell. I give up. There is no rational explanation for this. C.I. Kemp is freakin insane. Enjoy.

 

Peabody’s Improbable History: H.P. Lovecraft

by C. I. Kemp

LovecraftIt’s common knowledge among horror aficionados that H.P. Lovecraft was strongly influenced by the works of Lord Dunsany and Edgar Allan Poe. There was, however, another individual without whose assistance Lovecraft would never have achieved the fame he did. Now at last, it can be told:

Note: If you’re one of the few who had a deprived childhood and grew up without ever seeing an episode of “Peabody’s Improbable History,” please check it out on You Tube before reading further. That way, you can appreciate the deathless prose that follows with all the seriousness and respect it deserves.

FADE IN
Opening animation to PEABODY’S IMPROBABLE HISTORY accompanied by theme music.
DISSOLVE TO:

1. INTERIOR: Peabody’s lab.
Peabody is standing in front of the the WABAC Machine, Sherman by his side.
PEABODY
Hello there. Peabody here. (Gesturing) Sherman and WABAC there. Sherman is a boy. The WABAC – a time machine.
SHERMAN
Where are we going today, Mr. Peabody?
PEABODY
Set the WABAC for the year 1926.
SHERMAN
And the place?
PEABODY
Providence, Rhode Island, where we’ll meet that illustrious horror writer, Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

2. EXTERIOR. A street scene in Providence, RI.
PEABODY (voice-over)
In less time than it takes to tell, the WABAC Machine transported us to Lovecraft’s doorstep.
An angry mob is gathered outside a house. They’re throwing rotten fruit through the windows and shouting in anger. From inside the house comes a loud discordant singing:
LOVECRAFT (voice-over)
Lullaby and good night! La la la la la la la…
SHERMAN
Golly! What’s going on, Mr. Peabody?
PEABODY
I think it’s time we found out.
PEABODY (voice-over)
Sherman and I entered the house and found…

3. INTERIOR – Lovecraft’s bathroom.
Lovecraft is standing before a large bathtub, holding a piece of sheet music and singing off-key. In the tub is Cthulhu, happily splashing about, playing with a decapitated rubber duck, making unintelligible gurgling sounds. The walls are plastered with the remains of thrown fruit as are Lovecraft’s face and lapels.
PEABODY (voice-over continues)
…Lovecraft singing to a many-tentacled, winged, big-footed sea monster.
LOVECRAFT (to the tune of Brahms’ Lullaby)
Go to sleep, go to sleep… Oh, it’s no use, I’m ruined!
PEABODY
Why the long face, Mr. Lovecraft?
LOVECRAFT (gesturing at his gaunt face)
Why, I was born with it.
PEABODY
No, no, I mean, why so unhappy?
LOVECRAFT
Oh, it’s because of him (gesturing at Cthulhu)
PEABODY
I don’t understand.
LOVECRAFT
Well, listen to this. (Clears throat). “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”
SHERMAN
Why, that’s wonderful!
LOVECRAFT
Yes, but I can’t use it.
PEABODY
And why is that?
LOVECRAFT
Well, one can’t dream unless one is asleep, right?
PEABODY
Right.
LOVECRAFT
And one can’t sleep if one won’t go to sleep, right?
PEABODY
Also right.
LOVECRAFT
Well, I can’t get him to go to sleep!
Camera shifts to Cthulhu who is squeezing the rubber duck. The duck flies out of his tentacles…
Camera shifts back to Lovecraft.
…and hits LOVECRAFT in the head before bouncing off-screen.
PEABODY
Well, your singing doesn’t seem to be bearing fruit.
LOVECRAFT
Oh, I wouldn’t say that. (He picks a remnant of fruit from his lapel and starts chomping.) May I offer you an apple?
PEABODY
No thank you. What I mean is your lullaby doesn’t seem to be making him sleepy.
LOVECRAFT
You’re right. Perhaps some Nelson Eddy show tunes? When I’m calling youuuuuuu…
PEABODY and SHERMAN are wincing, covering their ears. CTHULHU is holding his tentacles to where his ears might be and is making some very unhappy gurgling sounds.
PEABODY
I think not. Might I recommend some more traditional methods?
LOVECRAFT
Such as?
PEABODY
Warm milk has been shown to be an effective sleep inducer. Why not try that?
LOVECRAFT
Excellent idea!

4  EXTERIOR – A nearby farm
PEABODY, SHERMAN, LOVECRAFT, and CTHULHU are standing outside of a barn.
PEABODY (voice-over)
I directed Lovecraft to a nearby dairy farm. Naturally, a simple glass of warm milk could hardly have any effect on a creature Cthulhu’s size…

5  INTERIOR – Barn
An assembly line of cows goes past Lovecraft, seated on a stool, as he milks each one.
PEABODY (voice-over)
…so Lovecraft proceeded to milk a barn full of cows.

6  EXTERIOR – Barn.
PEABODY and SHERMAN are standing outside of the barn. Suddenly, there is a loud THUD, a yell, and a dazed and battered Lovecraft comes crashing through the wall of the barn and landing on his butt before PEABODY and SHERMAN.
SHERMAN
Mr. Lovecraft, what happened?
LOVECRAFT
That last one was a bull.

7  INTERIOR – Barn
CTHULHU is downing bucket after bucket.
PEABODY (voice-over)
Cthulhu proceeded to swallow bucket after bucket of the milk. The result, however, was not what we had hoped for.
CTHULHU
(Loud) Moo! (Louder) BUUURRRRP!
CTHULHU leaps off-screen…

8  EXTERIOR – A water trough outside the barn.
…and onscreen again into the water trough where he begins splashing and making happy gurgling sounds, much as we saw him in the earlier bathtub scene. PEABODY, SHERMAN, and LOVECRAFT are standing by.
SHERMAN
What do we do now, Mr. Peabody?
PEABODY (stroking his chin)
Hmmmmm. I think a more scientific approach is called for.

9  INTERIOR – A local pharmacy
All four are standing in the pharmacy in front of an aisle with a sign reading “Sleep Aids.”
Scene shifts to CTHULHU proceeding down the aisle devouring everything off the shelves.
PEABODY (voice-over)
We then proceeded to a local pharmacy where Cthulhu availed himself not only of the various sleep aids, but everything else in the store.
Once again, Cthulhu makes a grand leap off-screen.

10  EXTERIOR – A street scene
Several little kids are playing at an open fire hydrant. They look up and flee in terror as Cthulhu lands in the puddle and resumes his splashing and gurgling.
PEABODY (voice over)
Unfortunately, Cthulhu remained as animated as ever.

11  EXTERIOR – Outside the pharmacy, which now has an “Out Of Business” sign in the window.
LOVECRAFT
Oh, it’s no use! I’ll never be able to write at this rate! I may as well go into some other line of work.
SHERMAN
Like what, Mr. Lovecraft?
LOVECRAFT
I don’t know. Tuba Instructor? Yogurt Taster? (Shudders) Insurance Salesman?
PEABODY (voice-over)
Lovecraft’s suggestions gave me an idea.
PEABODY
Mr. Lovecraft, if you follow my instructions, I can not only get Cthulhu to go to sleep, but I can guarantee to keep him asleep for a very long time.
LOVECRAFT
You can? How?

12  EXTERIOR – A different street scene.
PEABODY and LOVECRAFT enter a storefront office whose sign reads “Justin Cayce, Insurance.” After a few seconds, they leave with LOVECRAFT carrying a brief case.
PEABODY (voice-over)
I got Lovecraft to apply for a job with the local insurance agent. In no time, Lovecraft was conferring with his first client…

13  INTERIOR – Lovecraft’s house.
LOVECRAFT and CTHULHU are sitting at a table across from each other. LOVECRAFT’S briefcase is open and he is chattering at high speed to CTHULHU while riffling through a voluminous sheaf of papers. As LOVECRAFT speaks, CTHULHU’s yawns become progressively longer and deeper. At the end of PEABODY’S voice-over, CTHULHU’S head plunks down on the table and he emits loud snores,.
PEABODY (voice-over)
…Cthulhu. As Lovecraft explained the subtleties of Liabilities and Deductibles, Cthulhu’s eyelids began to droop. By the time Lovecraft was elaborating on the differences between Term and Whole Life, Cthulhu was dead to the world.

14  EXTERIOR – Lovecraft’s house.
A large crate labeled “To R’lyeh” is being loaded onto a UPS (Ulthar Package Senders) truck.
PEABODY (voice-over)
From there, it was a simple matter to ship Cthulhu to R’lyeh.

15  INTERIOR – Lovecraft’s house.
LOVECRAFT is sitting at a table, pounding away at a typewriter with a beatific (and somewhat silly) smile.
PEABODY (voice-over)
As for Lovecraft, he was able to go back to his writing.

16    INTERIOR – PEABODY’S lab.
PEABODY and SHERMAN are sitting in easy chairs across from each other.
SHERMAN
Boy, it’s sure lucky Mr. Lovecraft got that insurance job.
PEABODY
Indeed it is. Lovecraft proved quite successful at it, too. So much so, in fact, that he was transferred to the Innsmouth office where he was assigned to shadow people as an investigator for the company.

17  EXTERIOR – A low aerial view of Innsmouth buildings.
LOVECRAFT is seen skulking along rooftops.

18  INTERIOR – PEABODY’S lab.
PEABODY
In fact, he became so skilled that he became known…
SHERMAN
Mr. Peabody! It can’t be!
PEABODY
Oh, but it is. Lovecraft became known as (slight pause) the Shadower Over Innsmouth.
SHERMAN winces. A discordant trumpet blat sounds. Closing theme.
FADE OUT.