Portal:Speculative fiction/Horror

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Horror fiction is a genre of fiction in any medium intended to scare, unsettle and horrify the audience. Historically, the cause of the "horror" experience has often been the intrusion of a disturbing supernatural element into everyday human experience. Since the 1960s, any work of fiction with a morbid, gruesome, surreal, or exceptionally suspenseful or frightening theme has come to be called "horror". Horror fiction often overlaps science fiction or fantasy, all three categories of which are sometimes placed under the umbrella classification speculative fiction.

Haunting is sometimes used as a plot device in horror fiction and paranormal-based fiction. Legends about haunted houses have long appeared in literature. For example, the Arabian Nights tale of "Ali the Cairene and the Haunted House in Baghdad" revolves around a house haunted by djinns. The influence of the Arabian Nights on modern horror fiction is certainly discernible in some of the work of H. P. Lovecraft.

Achievements in horror fiction are recognized by numerous awards. The Horror Writer's Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the seminal horror novel Dracula. The Australian Horror Writers Association presents annual Australian Shadows Awards. The International Horror Guild Award was presented annually to works of horror and dark fantasy from 1995 to 2008. Other important awards for horror literature are as subcategories included within general awards for fantasy and science fiction in such awards as the Aurealis Award.

Zombies are a popular feature in many horror works.

Selected horror profile

Lovecraft with his wife, Sonia
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction.

Lovecraft's guiding literary principle was what he termed "cosmicism" or "cosmic horror", the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. As early as the 1940s, Lovecraft had developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fiction featuring a pantheon of human-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Christian humanism. Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality and the abyss.

Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. According to Joyce Carol Oates, Lovecraft — as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century — has exerted "an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction". Stephen King called Lovecraft "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale."

Selected horror work

Illustration from the frontispiece of the 1831 edition by Theodor von Holst.
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, generally known as Frankenstein, is a novel written by the British author Mary Shelley. Shelley wrote the novel when she was 19 years old. The first edition was published anonymously in London in 1818. Shelley's name appears on the revised third edition, published in 1831. The title of the novel refers to a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who learns how to create life and creates a being in the likeness of man, but larger than average and more powerful. In popular culture, people have tended to refer to the Creature as "Frankenstein", despite this being the name of the scientist. Frankenstein is a novel infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement. It was also a warning against the "over-reaching" of modern man and the Industrial Revolution, alluded to in the novel's subtitle, The Modern Prometheus. The story has had an influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films. It is arguably considered the first fully realized science fiction novel.