My first column of horror-related ramblings for Studies in Australian Weird Fiction has just appeared.
Studies in Australian Weird Fiction (SiAWF) is a new non-fiction journal edited by Benjamin Szumskyj, James Doig, Leigh Blackmore, and Phillip A. Ellis, and published by Equilibrium Books. My regular column, which will pretty well address whatever horror / weird fiction issues happen to be exciting me at the time, is called “The Ossuary” — and the first one is about “Ghosts, Monsters and Chainsaws”. In particular it looks at the way Horror Fiction imagery has been appropriated for political purposes and touches on issues arising from the distinction between supernatural and naturalistic horror.
What is Terror?
Somewhere back in the mists of time I first came upon Phyllis Wagner and Herbert Wise’s definitive anthology, Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (originally published 1944), probably the best collection of pre-1950s horror stories ever produced. Since then, the term “terror” has been firmly associated in my mind with stories in the horror genre – stories that evoke a world that isn’t quite this one, but which is situated just the other side of normalcy, stories that deal with the rawest of emotions — a dark, primal fear that has always haunted us and from which we never quite escape. These stories are about mortality, not simply death, and they draw on a wealth of supernatural and fantastic imagery. In doing so, they remind us what it means to be human.
This then is Terror, an emotion born in transcendent, demonic darkness and encompassing fear of change, the unknown, mortality, the past, responsibility and the Other. To my mind, it is what the horror genre was all about.
In light of this I’ve been rather miffed over recent political appropriations of the word. We are told that we live in an age of Terror and our society is engaged in a War against it. Terror, it seems, has been normalised.
Read the full column in Issue One.
Issue One contents:
- “Lionel Sparrow (1867–1936): An Unknown Australian Writer of Gothic Horror” by James Doig
- “The Weird Verse of Christopher Brennan” by Phillip A. Ellis
- “Wandering Child: The Fantasies of Vernon Knowles” by Mark Valentine
- “An Afternoon with Elizabeth Jolley, author of The Well” by Benjamin Szumskyj
- “Shadows & Sexuality: The Horror Stories of Stephen Dedman” by Benjamin Szumskyj
- “Tim Winton’s Take on the Weird: In the Winter Dark as Cross-Genre Fiction” by Phillip A. Ellis
- “A Bibliography of Australian Fantastic Literature to c.1960” by James Doig
- “Brett McBean: An Appreciation” by Tim Kroenert
- “Thrills and Excitement, Adventure and Action: Don Boyd, an Endless ‘Myth-Cycle’ Unto Himself” by Charles Lovecraft & Margaret Lovecraft
- “Pater Horrere Familas: An Interview with Lee Battersby”
- “The Terror From Australis: An Interview Leigh Blackmore”
- “The Weird Talesman: An Interview with Terry Dowling”
- “Harvesting Wild Grapes: An Interview with Phillip A. Ellis”
- “Home is Where the Horror Is: An Interview with Steve Gerlach”
- “Laughter From the Dark: An Interview with Richard Harland”
- “Horror From the Outback: An Interview with Rick Kennett”
- “Darkness Be My Scribe: An Interview with Marty Young”
- “The Ossuary” by Robert Hood. First article entitled “Ghosts,Monsters and Chainsaws”
- “Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock: A Fortieth AnniversaryRetrospect” discussed by James Doig, Patrick Lee and Brett McKenzie
- “Crosses & Shadows: Australian Christians Discuss the Horror Genre”discussed by Nathan Hobby, Tim Kroenert, Amanda Robertson, Lyn Battersby and Benjamin Szumskyj.
Looks great and offers an interesting array of articles and interviews. Kudos to the editors for getting this project going so spectacularly.
You can buy a copy here.