Science Fiction and horror have always been linked together. From the very beginning in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus to Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation, the two genres mesh very well. Especially when science and the consequences of science can be so frightening to people. It is this fear that makes the literature of SF Horror so compelling to readers.
A Few Favorites
I have mentioned two books but there are (many) more that can be discussed. I will mention a few of my favorites.
War of the Worlds (H.G. Wells): This classic plays upon the fear of invasion by unknown and inscrutable beings. Humans were (and are) obsessed with the idea of life on Mars and that obsession often casts that life as hostile. It is a war story, a story of survival, and the end of the age, which is another fear people of that era shared. If you ever doubt how scary this story can be, read of the accounts of the Orson Welles radio drama and the panic that it caused.
Who Goes There? (John Campbell): Locked in a research station with no chance of outside help and a shape shifting alien inside? I am sure that isn’t scary. Yet three movies have been made based on Campbell’s tale with the first two being something of cult classics. Definitely worth the read whether you enjoy the movies or not.
The Andromeda Strain (Michael Crichton): A secret government project goes awry, but not in gore and camp. Instead this is a race against time to find a way to neutralize an alien organism before it mutates and kills everyone on Earth.
Tapping Into Fears
All of these books and many others tap into fears that we already have, turning them against us and making those fears frighteningly real. Some are primal fears and others social fears, turning every day discomfort into deadly menace. Reading these books allows us to experience those fears in a safe and exciting way. Of course not all SF is about horror, but there is no question that SF and Horror have long been good friends among the genres.
Ancillary Read Along
We had the impressions discussion last week. This week we talk about Chapters 1 & 2. As always that will be posted on Friday.