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Old 07-05-2017   #1
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Evolution of The Weird

In my readings of the Weird over the past 30 years or so, I have noticed an evolution in the themes of the stories. We have evolved from stories of ghosts and demons to stories of cosmic horror to stories that question reality.

And in all this I see the themes, the stories, growing darker, more bleak, more hopeless.

I am certainly saying nothing that many of you don't already know. But I am curious where my fellow writers see this literary form going from here?

Life that has no meaning in a cold universe would seem to be the end of the line. Have we reached the end of a genre or are we just at the start of a new phase?

I appreciate your thoughts on the subject.

"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind." - H. P. Lovecraft
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Old 07-15-2017   #2
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Re: Evolution of The Weird

The genera as a whole risk going Suicidal Black Metal. It's became so mono-visual as to lose any sense of self-consciousness or irony. One almost imagines a meta-referential dialogue between author and reader:

Author: No Hope! No Hope! No Hope!

Reader: Why should I finish reading this paragraph?

Author: No Hope! No Hope! No Hope!

Likewise I don't think Cosmic Horror as an idea has evolved much over the last decade or, so, as opposed to just being juxtaposed against other settings. It's a testament to Barron, Pulver and others that they've managed to produce successful, relatively fresh work on this formula.

Ligotti did represent a genuine evolution, at least from Lovecraft, in the way he took world-horror away from the proximate physical cosmos, the vastness of unknown gulfs and the things undreamt of in our philosophies, and moved it into a more ontological direction - it was the very structure of reality that was 'negative' as opposed to anything that happened to exist. Even here though I wonder if part of his *commercial* success is not so much due to that in itself as much as how his later work uses a sardonic take on corporate America to present it.
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Old 07-15-2017   #3
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Re: Evolution of The Weird

I'm fine with resignation as the final goal. There's beauty as well as maturity in that.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 07-15-2017   #4
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Re: Evolution of The Weird

I sometimes think that perhaps the next step is towards a more philosophical trend of cosmic bafflement/surrealism, in which the cosmos becomes so inexplicable as to move beyond even horror. Think along the likes of 'Solaris', perhaps with humanity being presented in a way not unlike in the film 'On the Silver Globe'. (Which is well worth seeking out, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it.)
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Old 07-16-2017   #5
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Re: Evolution of The Weird

Quote Originally Posted by Revenant View Post
In my readings of the Weird over the past 30 years or so, I have noticed an evolution in the themes of the stories. We have evolved from stories of ghosts and demons to stories of cosmic horror to stories that question reality.

And in all this I see the themes, the stories, growing darker, more bleak, more hopeless.

I am certainly saying nothing that many of you don't already know. But I am curious where my fellow writers see this literary form going from here?

Life that has no meaning in a cold universe would seem to be the end of the line. Have we reached the end of a genre or are we just at the start of a new phase?
Michael Cisco is surely one of the best, most significant, and most prolific of recent weird fiction authors, and I don't see how his work would fit this description. Is Cisco somehow sui generis within the genre? Has his work influenced other authors? (I don't know.)

Cisco: not the evolution but the ebullition of the weird. I wouldn't predict this for the future of the genre because I don't know how many authors would or could follow him.
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Old 07-16-2017   #6
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Re: Evolution of The Weird

Whereas I'm definitely not up to date on the last 30 years or so of Weird Fiction, my immediate thought is that there's just an endless variety of things to be bleak and hopeless about. Cosmic horror in the vein of Blackwood, Hodgson, Lovecraft etc. only hammers at a few specific Enlightenment ideals. Ligotti goes in a more personal direction, but his work mostly negates the aspirations peculiar to a species of introverted, intellectual male inhabiting late capitalism. There are plenty of ideals that inspire people that don't rest on a human centered universe and/or the progress of civilization towards utopia, and plenty of individual aspirations beyond developing/maintaining personal identity and confidence in one own's knowledge. These ideals and aspirations all carry with them different fears and transgressions that a horror author can exploit - the only limitation to Cosmic Horror is, ironically, authors limiting themselves with the belief that they've achieved a universal nihilism.
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Old 07-16-2017   #7
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Re: Evolution of The Weird

Quote Originally Posted by Revenant View Post
Life that has no meaning in a cold universe would seem to be the end of the line.
nah, that was always the line life (and art) prospered in, everything interesting has already worked with that as a background, seeming or not


evolution became most obvious when we recognised this

"suckers for posterity" aren't we all
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Old 07-16-2017   #8
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Re: Evolution of The Weird

Michael Cisco is surely one of the best, most significant, and most prolific of recent weird fiction authors, and I don't see how his work would fit this description. Is Cisco somehow sui generis within the genre? Has his work influenced other authors? (I don't know.)

Cisco: not the evolution but the ebullition of the weird. I wouldn't predict this for the future of the genre because I don't know how many authors would or could follow him.


I am not familiar with his work but you have got my interest! Thank you for suggesting this author!

"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind." - H. P. Lovecraft
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