The Fear Round Table

A picture of cocoa the cat with a pumpkin

It’s spooky season! Which is our favourite season. Rachel begins prepping for Halloween in July. For our October feature, we thought we’d take a look at reading and writing horror, fear, and the uncanny.

Sabitha: Do you read or write horror? If so, what kind? If not, do you incorporate horror elements into your writing?

Rachel: I always say that I don’t, and horror elements keep creeping into my writing like a sleeping Elder God under the ocean. Cascade has more than a dash of cosmic horror to it. I tend to gravitate towards works that are horror-adjacent, that have a lot of that creeping sense of menace and the uncanny but aren’t necessarily shelved in the horror section.

Rohan: When it comes to horror I am a complete wuss, despite being born on Halloween. I have never watched or read an out-and-out horror movie or book. But then I don’t class movies like Alien or zombie movies as horror in my mind. I think because they are so far fetched that it doesn’t scare me. And just like Rachel I definitely have horror elements that sneak into my Sci-Fi. Alinda was very much Alien inspired. 

Sabitha: What are some of your favourite horror tropes?

Zilla: I am a total sucker for “the real horror is our own humanity”. It’s admittedly a bleak outlook on life, but not terribly surprising if you’ve met me. Give me Night of the Living Dead and Twenty-Eight Days Later where racism and male entitlement are scarier than zombies. Horror holds up a funhouse mirror to the world, but the scariest things are always on our side of the reflection.

Rachel: A big shoutout to Get Out, probably my favourite horror movie of all time, for really bringing the terror in that regard.

I adore the uncanny and the unsettling. That deep-seated feeling of helplessness within a context that is much larger than you and doesn’t care one bit about your existence, when done well, is absolutely stunning. Peter Watts’ Blindsight has one of the most effective uses of a truly hostile and uncaring universe I’ve ever seen in fiction. Not to mention it has vampires in space.

Sabitha: What are some of your least favourite horror tropes?

Rachel: I’m not a big fan of a lot of the moralism that ends up in a lot of horror works. Women punished for being sexually active, that kind of thing. And of course I can’t mention cosmic horror without shooting old H.P. Lovecraft a giant side-eye, though personally I’m a little thrilled to know how terrified he would have been of my very existence.

Sabitha: Recommendations time! Which book really scared you? Besides the IPCC Report, Zilla.

Zilla: Wow, spoilers Sabitha. Some people might not know how the IPCC Report ends yet.

Rachel: Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin made waves for a certain throwaway line of worldbuilding, but it’s one of the cleverest horror novels I’ve read in ages. It’s a fresh take on the “gendercide” narrative: a splatterpunk survival horror focusing on trans people’s experiences after a virus has turned anyone with a high enough level of testosterone into vicious monsters.

Sabitha: Last and most important question: What are you dressing as for Halloween?

Rachel: The haunting reminder that the pandemic isn’t over. Or the comics version of Death of the Endless. Some kind of memento mori, anyway.

Rohan: I usually go for something controversial. But I am stuck for motivation with the farcical being too close to reality these days. 

Zilla: The scariest thing of all: a millennial trapped in late capitalism.

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