creating worlds

February 25, 2020

All fiction is about creating worlds, of course, and each of these worlds is distinctive, personal. Take Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens. Their versions of Victorian England are quite different, even when they’re talking about the same kinds of thing. Dotheboys Hall in ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ and ‘Lowood Institution’ in Jane Eyre are both highly unpleasant schools – both even contain abused, tubercular pupils who befriend the main character and later die in their arms – but they inhabit totally different fictional universes. You can’t imagine taking a journey from Bleeding Heart Yard to Thornfield Hall. Mr Rochester’s mad wife is no Miss Havisham. And no matter how I try, I can’t imagine Jane Eyre meeting Mr Micawber.

So all fiction is about creating worlds – but fantasy writers come straight out and admit it. We don’t even try to deceive you. How could we? You know that unicorns and dragons, werewolves and vampires, orcs and trolls and elves, do not exist and never have existed. So what’s the point of it all? Why on earth do we write it? Why do some of you – quite a lot of you, actually – want to read it?

Surely because fantasy is no more and no less a pack of lies than any other type of fiction. Or to put it the other way around, the truths of good fantasy are exactly the same as the truths of all good fiction: emotional truths about characters, about situations, about life.

Katherine Langrish
creating worlds

Horror is a genre of excess, of abundance — and food is the perfect metaphor in its narratives because it holds so many meanings at once. Food, from the grotesque to the delicious, populates the screen: the raw steak crawling across the kitchen counter in Poltergeist (1982); a distracted Drew Barrymore burning her popcorn in the opening scene of Scream (1999); the chocolate bars Charlie routinely snaps with her teeth in Hereditary (2018). Hunger is everywhere in horror: from werewolves to zombies to cannibals, the protagonists we find on screen are either devouring or being devoured. But what I’m interested in is not the readings of food as metaphors for capitalist consumption, the disintegration of the American family unit, or sexual taboos — but simply in the act of eating itself.

Laura Maw
There’s Nothing Scarier Than a Hungry Woman

monsters

October 24, 2019

It is probably safe to say that, at some point in all of our childhoods, our parents or some other adult assured us that there is no such thing as monsters. They meant well when they told us this. It was an attempt to calm our fears about the monsters we saw in movies, on TV, or read about in books. And for the most part, that assurance served its purpose. As we grew older, we came to realize that those monsters were, in fact, imaginary. There are no such things as dragons, ogres, werewolves, vampires, kaiju, or ugly old hags with magical powers.

Once we leave childhood, though, we come to realize how hollow that assurance was. Sooner or later, we come to an unpleasant realization: No monsters? Are you serious? Just look around!

Ray Garton
“There’s No Such Thing as Monsters,” Our Parents Lied…

Someone clever once said, apropos of the Justice League, that the only thing sillier than an adult dressing up in colourful tights to fight crime, was a whole roomful of such folk. That’s a good analogy for films, TV shows and books that posit elaborate secret societies of vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures that operate just below the radar of human awareness. One vampire or werewolf is powerful as both a character and a symbol; a roomful of them is just goofy.

Alex Bledsoe
No Mortals Allowed

I am definitely now exploring what science can do to create a new biological body for a ghost or a spirit. I am certainly asking whether or not newly created humanoid entities have souls. I do have my own pantheon of ghosts, elves, werewolves, vampires, mummies, witches and the like. I have loved creating this. And I’ve had wonderful fun exhuming these horror clichés and doing my take on them. I think there are certain concepts that unite my work, and the main one, of course is that the monster, particularly the vampire, is a metaphor for us, a metaphor for the outsider and the predator in each of us. Good horror fiction as I see it is always about us, about the human condition. It is always allegorical and metaphorical. I love writing these books. They are about my reality, my moral and social obsessions.

Ann Rice
Interview 14th February

Fantasy…

September 4, 2016

zombie by dihaze

Nevertheless, the potential and actual importance of fantastic literature lies in such psychic links: what appears to be the result of an overweening imagination, boldly and arbitrarily defying the laws of time, space and ordered causality, is closely connected with, and structured by, the categories of the subconscious, the inner impulses of man’s nature. At first glance the scope of fantastic literature, free as it is from the restrictions of natural law, appears to be unlimited. A closer look, however, will show that a few dominant themes and motifs constantly recur: deals with the Devil; returns from the grave for revenge or atonement; invisible creatures; vampires; werewolves; golems; animated puppets or automatons; witchcraft and sorcery; human organs operating as separate entities, and so on. Fantastic literature is a kind of fiction that always leads us back to ourselves, however exotic the presentation; and the objects and events, however bizarre they seem, are simply externalizations of inner psychic states. This may often be mere mummery, but on occasion it seems to touch the heart in its inmost depths and become great literature.

Franz Rottensteiner
The Fantasy Book: An Illustrated History From Dracula To Tolkien

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