Peter speaks to Caitlin Starling about her debut novel The Luminous Dead, video games and interactive fiction, her upcoming projects, and more.
Richard Matheson is not quite a household name, but guaranteed you’ve heard of his work. He has written some of the most memorable scripts for television and movies of the mid-twentieth century, particularly for the Roger Corman/AIP “Poe Cycle” of films starring Vincent Price and the Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” featuring William Shatner. You might also remember his novel I Am Legend, also turned into a film called The Last Man on Earth which served as the inspiration for George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. While it is unlikely you can name five of his short stories off the top of your head, his legacy is everywhere, in The Walking Dead to Jordan Peele’s remake of The Twilight Zone. Without Matheson, we wouldn’t have some of the biggest subgenres of science fiction and horror.
“Terror and horror are so far opposite, that the first expands the soul, and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life; the other contracts, freezes and nearly annihilates them […] and where lies the great difference between horror and terror but in the uncertainty and obscurity, that accompany the first, respecting the dreaded evil?”
Ann Radcliffe wrote these words in her essay On The Supernatural In Poetry, published posthumously in 1826. She then goes on to clarify:
“Obscurity leaves something for the imagination to exaggerate; confusion, by blurring one image into another, leaves only a chaos in which the mind can find nothing to be magnificent, nothing to nourish its fears or doubts, or to act upon in any way.”
For Radcliffe, this blurring of horror means that it can never teach or improve the recipient of that horror, only “freeze and nearly annihilate them”. Horror becomes for her a denial of and turning away from the sublime. Terror, on the other hand, is the effect of staring clearly into the glare of the sublime, of suffering through an experience that “expands” us and fundamentally changes how we live.
Rebecca Wojturska speaks to David Quantick about his recent novel, All My Colors, a book which Rebecca describes in her review as a “fast-paced genre-bending whirlwind of hilarity and horror”. They also talk about what Quantick is working on next, why comedy and horror often go together, and human suitcases. Yes, human suitcases.
In this episode, Peter speaks to Catriona Ward whose second novel Little Eve, a 1920s murder mystery set on a remote Scottish island within a nature-worshipping cult, was nominated for a 2018 Shirley Jackson Award.
Anyone who loves a good ghost story will tell you that we are haunted by the past. But what if the past sought to reach out, to make itself heard, to remind us that it – that those who populated that space – were as real and vibrant as you and I are now?