Whither Horror? Or: Will Horror Wither?

a conversation in late 1991, with John C., Glen, Scott, CJE, Hunter, Dan, Kurt, and Fiona

John C.:   It's well known that Harlan Ellison thinks horror is dead. Is he right? A simplified accounting of his position: it's his thesis that Stephen King created contemporary horror, and that everyone else (aside from a few major talents) has just been gliding along on his coattails ever since. The momentum has slowed, he maintains. The books aren't selling half as well as they used to, the publishers are changing their minds as to whether it's a good idea to publish horror. And so horror is dying.

Hunter:   I think that's an accurate assessment. Of course, the publishers are the main reason it's dying. They screwed themselves.

John C.:   Ellison says it's partly a good thing—because the Stephen King clones and the lower-quality writers will suffer most from the shakedown, and who needs them anyway?—and partly a bad thing—because good beginning writers will shy away from the field for lack of a market.

Fiona:   Or maybe for lack of a respectable image! I mean, jeez, would you want to introduce yourself at a party, in any place more sophisticated than the neighborhood pizza joint, as a horror writer? We're talkin' major diss material here. You can claim to be doing it for the money—then if you bomb out, you can say you were misguided—but you certainly can't claim to be doing it for Art. I'm not kidding about this: I think it's a serious problem for the field. Earnest, talented young writers are shying away from the darker themes, because they don't want to compromise their literary ambitions. A writer wants to be known as a writer—not as a hack.

John C.:   Tom Weber, a friend of mine who works as an editor at Tor books, a major horror publisher through the 80's, says that Tor is getting out of the horror business entirely except for just a few writers. He says: "If you want to be a writer, don't write horror whatever you do. Call it suspense, or dark fantasy, or anything but horror. Supernatural horror and hard-core splatterpunk are on their way out—unless it involves vampires." Tor is going to reallocate its horror resources to science fiction and mystery.

Fiona:   I know it's the real world, but it's strange to think of writing in business terms—to think of novels as a product. Back in, oh, I think it was '84, at a college reunion, I ran into Lawrence Watt-Evans (an sf/fantasy novelist who won a recent Hugo), and he said, "You're into horror? You should write horror. That's what Tor wants—they keep saying: horror, more horror." He seemed exasperated, and I could understand why. There he was, trying to tell the stories he has to tell, and Tor was saying, "No, write this instead—it'll sell better." It's a controversial distinction we're talking about here: some people are content to be schlockmeisters (and I certainly have no problem with an honest dollar for honest work), but others get very touchy, when accused of writing what the market desires. But of course, that was in the mid-80's, when horror was still selling like hotcakes.

John C.:   So—given that it's true, which isn't certain—why isn't horror doing as well as it used to? What's the difference between hard-core fans, such as ourselves, and supermarket horror buyers? Why are the supermarket types falling away? What are they reading instead? What's going on?

Hunter:   I think even the supermarket horror buyers have been inundated with so much crap, they won't buy it all any more.

Fiona:   That makes me think of something Dean Koontz says in the intro to Night Visions 6: "Sturgeon's Law—which states that ninety percent of everything is crap—needs to be revised to be applicable to the horror genre; the percentage has to be raised." It's a good essay. He also says, "We are unquestionably in a boom..."—this is 1988, when he's writin' this—"And we are overwhelmed by trash. . . Attempting to read nineteen out of any twenty horror novels, a well-educated person will despair, for so many writers seem never to have learned the basic rules of grammar and syntax. Most books and stories have nothing to say; they speak neither to the mind nor heart; they are clockwork mechanisms laboring mightily to bring forth, on schedule, not a cuckoo bird but a vague shiver of ersatz fear."

Hunter:   I remember when I started reading horror around 1978, there were a few King novels, Robert R. McCammon's Baal, some Robert Bloch reprints, and not much else that was highly visible. Since 1986 or so, the market just exploded with new crappy titles by new crappy authors. The good ones are generally overlooked because there are so many books out there.

Publishers like Zebra and Pinnacle (and Tor for that matter) put out so many titles a month that all have practically the same cover that there's no way they can expect to sell all of them. In my opinion, Tor has been one of the biggest reasons for horror's downfall. For the last couple of years, they've printed so much stuff and never really promoted any of them.

The problem is, many of Tor's books use the same fonts for their titles, the same artists for multiple books, etc. How is the average supermarket buyer going to tell if she's already read a book or not—you certainly can't go by the cover. You need to look carefully at authors, and most of them couldn't tell you who wrote a book (unless it was King; because they've been brainwashed into believing that he's the best, they read everything he writes).

As another example: a Bantam editor was telling me how much Bantam wants to keep Joe Lansdale as "their" author. Yet virtually every book of his that they've published has been pulped within 3-4 weeks of publication. Joe's books are not easily categorized, and Bantam doesn't know what to do with them. Try finding a copy of The Drive-In. You cannot order it. You may be able to get it from a mail-order dealer, but your chances are slim even then. Bantam published it with a goofy sci-fi cover, [Fiona interjects: "You mean the one with the tentacle monsters? I liked that one!"], put in on the shelves, and pulled it off the shelves two weeks later. They were all pulped, so you can't even back-order them. All because they don't know how to market something that you can't just label as sci-fi or horror.

Fiona:   I hate that word—"pulped." It sounds disgusting.

Hunter:   And it's not just Bantam. Pocket has the same problem, Tor has the same problem, Dell has the same problem. . . they all do. They like their neat little categories, and if a book doesn't fit, it'll die a quick death, because the publisher gets scared and yanks it before it can even build a word-of-mouth audience.

Fiona:   The horrors of packaging.

[Everyone sighs.]

Hunter:   I interviewed Rick McCammon on August 31 for the last issue of Lights Out!. We talked about the current state of horror and here's what he said:

HG: Mark Turek wrote: Because of horror "splatter" cinema, I've noticed the trend toward "splatter" horror fiction. Originality is hard to find except in a few cases; your most recent novel [The Wolf's Hour] was a very refreshing read, as was Stinger. What do you see on the horizon for the genre, and do you think we'll rise above the blood-and-gore rubbish?

RM: My feeling—and I know this is gonna get a lot of people upset—is that the future of horror is in films. Horror literature may be non-existent soon. Books have tried to mirror films because it's perceived that films are popular—they make a lot of money, usually—so the books have become more like the films. I think fewer people are reading horror novels now. I think you'll see the trend continue in horror films, but I think horror novels are taking their last gasp. I wish that weren't so, but it seems to be so.

Fiona:   Hmmm. . . 'seems awfully alarmist, not to mention short-sighted.

I think we need to keep in mind that different strains within the whole corpus of literature tend to go through ups and downs. Phases, regressions, reversals, etc. Death isn't going to go away. The inner darkness of humankind isn't going to go away. So horror literature won't go away, either. It'll transform, perhaps emerge anew under a different label. The label is just a label of convenience, anyway: it's a strange one, too, since it names a specific emotional experience as the sine qua non of the genre.

You see, while I'm disgusted, too, with the likes of Tor and Pinnacle and Zebra, I also see a lot of good stuff out there. It's not getting labeled as horror, and maybe that's a blessing. What shall we call it? Dark Lit? Katherine Dunn's Geek Love, for example. Patrick Suskind's Perfume. The stories and novels of Patrick McGrath.

But back to the obvious horror genre, such as it is. . .

Glen:   I want to get back to what John asked, whether Ellison is correct in saying that horror is dead. He goes on to state Ellison's thesis that the current crop of horror writers are riding King's coattails. The momentum has slowed, and writers are flopping off left and right. Hunter agrees, stating that he thinks Ellison's assessment is accurate, except he places the larger segment of "blame" to the publishers rather than misguided or slightly-less-than-original writers.

Ellison is correct, and yet, like normal, incorrect at the same time. It's one of my problems with Ellison. He gets up on his high horse, riding herd on poor unsuspecting readers, and, which he moseys some of 'em in the right direction, fails to see some of the shit that he's dropping behind him.

[Hmm, I notice I mangled that metaphor in exactly the same way Stephen King has written his most recent bestsellers, i.e., plop it on the page in first draft and set it before the reader. Sorry.]

Don't get me wrong, I love Ellison's writing. The man can make a restaurant review interesting, by god. But when Ellison has an agenda, he sticks to it, no if-ands-or-buts about it. Wonderful propaganda, bad information dissemination.

To return to "Is Horror Dead?": Yes and no. Stephen King is a perfect barometer to discuss this with, because the state of Horror is the state of King. And King is showing signs that he has leveled out. I refer you to an article by Jason Epstein entitled "The Decline and Rise of Publishing" (The New York Review of Books, March 1, 1990). Epstein's thesis is that publishing and its "growth" in recent years is a mirroring of the growth of chain stores (B. Dalton, Waldenbooks). I place growth in quotes because although money may have increased in the industry, fewer books are being published. This is because publishers have increasingly focused on the "bestseller." In the old days, a bestseller was a gift from god, but in today's marketplace, the bestseller is the figurehead of how well the company is doing. To quote Epstein:

The expansion of the chains...has finally peaked, depriving publishers of the incremental growth in the marketplace by which they had until now been able to cover their increasingly risky bets on best-selling authors.
And their increasingly risky bets on poorly written, not-quite-so- original horror novels. Epstein goes on to state:
Of the twenty-five leading fiction best sellers of the 1980s, six were written by Stephen King. In 1985 King's Skeleton Crew sold 720,000 copies. In 1987, as chain-store volume was peaking, King's Tommyknocker sold 1,430,000 copies. Two years later only 1,550,000 copies of King's new novel, The Dark Half had been shipped to retailers, some of which will be returned to the publisher.
I think Epstein is understating the "some of which." He stated earlier in the article that returns averaged 10 to 15 percent twenty years ago, and that now the percentage approaches, and sometimes surpasses, 30 percent. Let's say the return was 10 percent on The Dark Half; then, only 1,395,000 copies were actually sold. So, not only is the momentum for Horror slowing down for the writers on King's coattails, but it's slowing down for King himself.

But is horror dead? Epstein's article is called "The Decline and Rise of Publishing" because after making such a sweeping statement for the decline of the bestseller, he follows it with an examination of the new independent bookstore spirit in America. He gives, as examples, Denver's Tattered Cover; Northshire in Manchester Center, Vermont; Borders in Ann Arbor (and elsewhere); and others. The tide is turning against the chains. Chains will remain, but the new audience that they introduced to books, as it increases in sophistication, will move onto the independents who carry a wide variety of books, not just the most recent bestsellers.

Horror's not dead, it just takes more originality to get a horror novel published these days, because the audience is finally becoming sophisticated enough to demand a higher quality product.

To which I can only add, it's about time.

John C.:   We might want to ask, Why is this happening? Ellison's explanation of the underlying force behind the wane in sales is the usual: just look at the real and increasing horrors the real world has to offer—gangs in LA, nuclear terrorism, etc.—and tell him why anyone has to read horror to be horrified. Horror literature is not scary, because the real world is scary enough.

As if anyone—or at any rate, most readers—read horror to discover anything horrifying about the external world or events at large. . .

Fiona:   I bet if we could get Ellison in person here, he could defend his view better, but I agree: it sounds counter-intuitive, but we don't read horror to be horrified. I think Noel Coward (in The Philosophy of Horror) has a good point when he emphasizes that horror readers seek not horror per se—the emotion you feel when confronted by violence on the street, for example—but what he calls "art-horror." A simulacrum of the emotion. An experience that's easier to work with, easier to handle. As corny as it sounds, I still think it's true: most people who read horror are trying (unconsciously) to get control over things that scare them, to gain mastery in their minds, over things they couldn't master in reality. What's hard to swallow about this, is that of course you never catch yourself thinking, "I'm reading this book about a rabid dog in order to re-capitulate, and thus master, my feelings about my father who beat me." If you could think such a thing, then the charm wouldn't work—because it wouldn't be unconscious.

John C.:   This is why I read horror

      —to discover the possibility of something creepy within myself;

     —to discover the possibility of something creepy about my perfectly normal-looking neighbors;

      —to tantalize my suspicion that the world can't possibly be as orderly as it's advertised to be, even taking into account the aforementioned chaos;

      —to discover an external cognate (in the imagination of the author) to what I think of as my own dark secrets—a denial of solipsism;

      —for plain old entertainment and escapism.

As for me, I don't care much about the exact form or packaging of the literature which provides these qualities. I'm not a horror fan, per se so much as a fan of dark literature, which includes horror and a lot of other stuff. Lately I've been reading a lot of private investigator novels, some of which are very, very dark. . . .

Fiona:   I like your reasons a lot—especially the way that you emphasize the process of discovery. Primates are curious creatures by nature: we apes are always going to be picking things up and poking underneath them, looking for what we haven't found yet, searching for what we can't see (because it's dark). What I said earlier about the horror reader's drive for mastery over trauma, is only part of the picture. We have to include that inquisitive spirit—the "private investigator" indeed! That's where I think the river of horror lit will find its true channel, and wend its way, however circuitously, into the future—in the never- ceasing need to ask unpleasant questions, to look behind the walls of our perception, and then look again, and look again, ad infinitum.

I know I'm slinging metaphors with abandon here, but if you go with the image of a necessarily limited view of reality that is destroyed and re-constructed in never-ending cycles, then horror is, by its very nature, going to do a phoenix number. Once we've exploited all the possibilities of the modern horror tale as envisioned by such pioneers as Richard Matheson and Stephen King—all the splatterpunk body catastrophes, all the sexual-perversion scenarios, every version of realism that the human mind can imagine—then horror will have to turn into something else. Maybe it won't look like fictional realism anymore. Maybe it'll look more like a twisted religion, or an alternate universe, or a horrible version of a virtual reality. A new, and newly fantastic, vision of the Dark. We can't just recycle the same product: that's becoming obvious. We may have to kill the beast, or at least declare it dead ("He's dead, Jim"), in order for the new beast to emerge.

Kurt:  I find Fiona's arguments for the continued existence of horror literature to be compelling. Death isn't going to go away—to paraphrase James Thurber paraphrasing someone else, the claw of the sea monster will be there for us all, eventually. The human psyche continues to have some pretty rough edges, as recent events continue to demonstrate. I would, however, give more credence than some of you might to Ellison's theory that real-life horrors are diverting some readers from the horrors of the printed page. There have been more horrific items in the news in the last few years than I can think to write down. The massacres in Killeen, Texas and Stockton, California. Jeffrey Dahmer. The murders in Gainesville. Pamela Smart. Killing sprees in Montreal, in Iowa, in Pittsburgh, on the Mexican border, and in other places I can't even remember. Serial killers in Ohio, the Pacific Northwest, and Southern California. Am I wrong or does this kinder, gentler nation lead the world in multiple mayhem? What the hell is wrong with these people?

Ahem. I stray from my point. I think I am less likely to pick up, say, a Stephen King novel now than I was five or six years ago, because of all those headlines I've read. I did recently pick up Four Past Midnight when I was desperate for something to read on a long airline flight. I remember flipping through one of the stories, "The Sun Dog", I think, mentally muttering "Oh yeah, right. A dog in a polaroid. Really scary." If reading horror is a charm against the night, a conscious choice to face and brave the darkness, I don't think it works if your capacity to feel horror has already satiated by the evening news. Maybe I still read horror to try to understand some of the darker aspects of human nature, I don't know. I don't think I'm reading it for light entertainment anymore.

I don't know whether or not the future of horror lies in film. I've seen a good number of recent and not so recent horror flicks, and I can count the number of those which succeeded in sending even momentary shivers down my spine up on the fingers of one hand. Freaks. Carnival of Souls. Diabolique. Bergman's The Magician. Night of the Living Dead. (OK, so four fingers and a thumb). I've missed most of the recent exercises in splatter cinema, although I have sat through some of the more good-natured of the geek flicksRe-Animator, the Evil Deads, and Motel Hell. I'm not going to argue for their artistic integrity, but they were entertaining in a goofy, roller coaster kind of way. They're cartoons, really—maybe that explains the popularity of Freddy Krueger with the pre-adolescent crowd.

Hunter:   When Rick McCammon stated that he thought the future of horror was in film, he certainly wasn't saying that he thought that was good! I've talked to him quite a bit about all of this, and I know that he despises horror films in general. Rather, I believe he was saying that the horror films, lousy though they are, make more money than horror novels. So as the publishers start shying away from horror, Hollywood will continue to churn out the garbage they call horror and will continue to rake in money from people who don't know any better. It's frustrating to read some really great novels and see the trash that Hollywood is filming.

Scott:   In the interest of throwing in my own two bits, let me say I, like Ellison, am not entirely disappointed with the fade of horror in popularity. I agree with his conclusion that if the market becomes more competitive it will force out those writers who are unoriginal and uninteresting. Horror will be better off without them and I feel pity for whichever genre they decide to light upon next.

It's interesting that this question has taken a turn into asking why people read horror; it's like asking why do we participate in something no longer in vogue. I've recently read through an interesting book called Dark Dreamers. It's a collection of interviews by Stanley Wiater of horror writers from King and Straub to Lansdale, Bloch, McCammon and Saul. One of the questions put to many of these writers (particularly those who came into their own before King) was why write horror if you know you're not going to make a ton of money off it. The most common answer ran along these lines: I write horror because I have to, and I'd be doing it even if nobody read it.

I think that's also why people read horror—entertainment is part of it, but the genre serves us too. I think it serves me by letting me get out all of my negative emotions in a context where I won't hurt anyone. The most "civilized" people are the also the most fascinated by horror and violence because it's an external manifestation of the things they keep behind a locked door in the cellar.

Sometimes I wonder what all the fuss about Lovecraft is really about. He may have idolized Poe, but has not one ounce of the command of the language Poe did. I think Lovecraft's true contribution to horror lies not in his prose, but the ideas lurking behind the prose—it was so new at the time. Lovecraft didn't write in a vacuum, but he was the first to pull a lot of the bits and pieces together—the psychological tension of Poe and Bierce, the use of landscape of Hawthorne, the cosmicism of Dunsany, etc. That is what I look forward to in horror as we approach the twenty-first century. The horrors of the real world are catching up to fiction and we are due for a brand new way of thinking about horror. It will be a cerebral thrill when it arrives and those of adolescent mentalities may never catch on to it (how many Krueger fans have even heard of Lovecraft?), but like Ellison says, "Who needs 'em?" They will rise and fall like sand in the wind, but there will always be true horror writers and readers. And these latter people will be easier to find now that the blinding sands are blowing elsewhere.

CJE:   Part of Lovecraft's appeal, I think, is that he did exactly what those other horror writers say they do: wrote because he "had" to. He had a vision of cosmicism, a hyper-realistic perception of Humanity's Place In The Universe which boils down to "humanity is no more or less important than anything else in the universe, be it ants, sand, sunlight, or tidal effects". He wrote (some of) what he did because he wanted to express that feeling of cosmicism. Recognizing that such a feeling would be profoundly disturbing to the average human, he phrased that expression as horror stories, or, more accurately, "weird tales". He didn't necessarily want to scare someone; he wanted readers to feel less self-assured about humanity's place in the universe. "Weird" is a pretty good label for the mood he wanted to evoke. And he did indeed write even if no one else wanted to read it.

Regarding his prose, he wrote in the manner he was familiar with, a precise manner stemming from 18th century rhetoric which was greatly out of place in early 20th century America. The expression of such "modern" ideas in such "antique" prose is, I think, another of his appeals.

As for what Scott said about how "Lovecraft didn't write in a vacuum, but he was the first to pull a lot of the bits and pieces together. . . " I think that needs a little more clarification. First, I'd change "cosmicism of Dunsany" to "otherworldliness of Dunsany". Second, while he admired Poe, HPL wasn't interested in character stories. Both believed stories should aim toward creating a particular mood, and do nothing that didn't contribute to that mood, but HPL's cosmicism necessarily forced human characterization into the background. A notion such as "the Imp of the Perverse" was irrelevant to Lovecraft. So, I wouldn't exactly say he used the "psychological tension of Poe". And while I can't quite remember how Hawthorne felt about landscapes in fiction, I suspect any similarities between Hawthorne and Lovecraft in that respect had more to do with the physical landscapes they described (i.e., New England) than with any recognition on Lovecraft's part of a useful technique in Hawthorne.

I've been reading Lovecraft's letters for the first time, and I'm coming to realize that what I like most about his work, as with other horror authors I like, is not the frisson or cathartic release of fear, but rather the "weird mood" he tried to create. (This is also why I like Clark Ashton Smith so much, as well as more modern authors like Thomas Ligotti.) These people are filed under "Horror" because that's the closest label we have to what they want to achieve. But Lovecraft and Smith have their science fiction sides as well, and that's just as valid a way of looking at them.

What I dislike about splatterpunk and such horror sub-genres is how mundane they are. Anyone can chop a babysitter into canapés (well, they're physically capable of doing so, at least), but very few can discover ruined Antarctic civilizations predating humanity or transdimensional pillars of ecstatic flame. My own hope for the "horror of the future" is something more along the lines of "a dark sense of wonder": we should be going "gosh-wow" at the same time we get that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach.

Dan:   This "Whither Horror?" discussion has seemed a bit odd to me in that I haven't noticed horror dying out at all. Sure there is a lot of chaff being published, but overall it seems to me that it has gradually forced its way into acceptance and prevalence over the past few years. Bookstores both new and used now generally have a horror section as do video stores. I remember back in the not too distant past when I only knew a handful of places that would not even get science fiction sorted out into its own separate area. Horror has entered the main stream and I think it is here to stay. Now the argument is of course, "Sure, Dan, I'll grant that it is here to stay, but it is all crap. The old days were done better, so we'll restate the question as: Will good horror stay around?"

Well I would say the answer is a definite YES, but you are going to have to work harder than in the past to find it. In the good old days before we got all the hacks into horror, say the 1890's when The King in Yellow was written if something was labeled horror it was because the person writing it wanted to be—even in the face of their stories not being published, their books burned, and themselves ostracized from polite society. The writer felt some need to not only write the style, but to actively try to spread the genre. This person was clearly writing for art's sake. And they had a real job 'cause any money coming in would be nice but not enough to support them. Given this kind of writer you expect what they do to be good or at least readable. Then in the 1920's or so Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, etc. came out and writers had a chance to maybe make a living writing for such publications, but most didn't, and or couldn't. H. P. Lovecraft, fairly popular in his life time and fairly prolific in short fiction, had a job to pay the bills. Robert Howard committed suicide in the depression because he couldn't make ends meet among other things. These people were writing because they had stories to tell and had little choice but to find a way to express them.

Gradually since then there has been a market growing for horror fiction so that finally people can perhaps be able to write and make enough to keep writing as a career. Stephen King came along with a style the public could relate to, some scary stuff, lots of words, long books that make you look smart when you read them, lots of description of places you understand so it doesn't take a huge imagination to see why the person in the book is scared. I am not really knocking King with this so much as saying why his horror seemed to work for more than just the hard core and dedicated. Now good writers see a chance to explore a new style or use ideas they have had to reject earlier because no one really wanted it. Hacks just see a new place to exploit and will try to ride on the coattails of any one that seems to be rising. No big surprise, but there are a lot more hacks than good writers out there, so quantity explodes and quality goes to hell in a hand basket.

Or does it? Yes the good-to-bad ratio has gotten much worse—you have to sample more and be more careful. Gone are the days of just grabbing anything not written by John Saul in the horror section and having it be readable and enjoyable. But gone (I think) are the days when horror section is two books wide and one of them is Poe. Horror is now reputable enough to for people to consider writing it over other forms they could write.

A parallel is heavy metal music—it is farther in its evolution than horror, but has gone through the same phases. A couple of bands popularized metal and a bunch of kids made themselves look like them and sound sort of like them in an effort to make a quick buck, the so called glamour rock bands noted for tight pants and hairspray. They did OK so others copied them and were even worse, but people figured it out, the good bands stayed and were rejuvenated by new interest and the bad ones changed or died. There is still a lot of junk, but the nuggets of gold make it worth sifting the mud.

Perhaps I am too optimistic, but I have gotten fairly used to wading through a lot of dreck to find the good stuff in many of the things I like in life. One can only hope that the publishing industry itself will figure out how to cull out the good from the bad in horror.

Fiona:   For lack of anything conclusive to say, allow me to end our little discussion with this little piece a friend of mine, Barry Hynum, wrote to me, when he heard we were discussing this topic:

Horror lives, Deathless it waits,
Like a dormant Spider in the Human Psyche,
Rising, an Alien with Silver Rows of Razor Teeth whenever
Humankind forgets the Dark Night
           and becomes complacent.

As a genre, horror will rise and fall with the tide of imagination. It is only when we close our eyes to the Moon's cycle that we forget the many facets of the Night. Torture is the honing of the soul, perfection, Dolarhyde's becoming, Gumb's chrysalis. It has meaning. Horror recedes (reseeds) only when we stagnate—even then we potentiate the new dawn with an unconscious rising tide of blood. Death is the final cocoon, and as such it holds our fascination like the moth's flame. We will always probe nothingness and mystery with our imagination; the result will be among other things horror. The tide will rise with the black beauty and perfection of the hag's characterization and dark wisdom, and the teachings of the vampire's hopeless immortality. As the perfect love story tickles our fancy, perfect horror taunts our fears. Both inspire to new heights and depths. And the human psyche is dimensionless.

Glen Engel-Cox  <>   Glen's Place
Scott Dixon <>
Hunter Goatley  <>
Kurt Svihla  <>   The Court of the Pumpkin King
Fiona Webster  

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