Sci Fi Sunday — Speculative Fiction?
Most libraries and bookstores classify science fiction and fantasy as the same genre. However, horror is shelved separately which can cause classification issues with authors like H.P. Lovecraft or Poe. Some people have called for sci fi, fantasy and horror to be classified together as SF, or speculative fiction. How do you feel about that? Do you think horror is an appropriate offshoot of the fantastical genre, or should it continue to be considered a separate category?
Currently reading: a book that makes me think about these things
If you went to high school in America, you’ve probably read Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.” Jackson has a gift for imbuing everyday, humdrum occurrences with a touch of dread. She writes horror, but not the horror of blood and guts or the sudden leap of a zombie. Rather, Jackson specializes in stories about the dark side of human nature — the sort of things that most of us know we are capable of underneath the thin veneer of civilization.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the story of the Blackwood family. The narrator, Mary Katherine, begins the book by stating that she is eighteen and lives with her sister Constance. “Everyone else in my family is dead.” Why they are dead and who killed them is the dramatic tale told in an extended flashback by Mary Katherine. The narrator’s childlike voice and odd, ritualistic behavior adds an extra level of creepiness to her story. We see how Mary Katherine is shunned by the village before we ever discover why. The villagers themselves are not innocent in this narrative; they are complicit in the horror that befalls the Blackwood family. Watching their behavior, we start to understand why Mary (also called Merricat) compulsively buries objects and nails things to trees to act as wards around her house. The creeping dread of the story makes her aberrant behavior seem mundane, even necessary. As in Jackson’s other stories and novels, there are several plot twists that take your breath away (and one that seems almost obvious in hindsight). Highly recommend, even if you don’t like horror. Don’t be surprised if your neighbors weird you out for a while after reading this…