Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's Scary?

     They tell me the novel I wrote is science fiction.  Nothing wrong with that, to be sure, though what I thought I was writing was horror.  Genre lines blur easily enough.  The movie Alien, for instance; is that more sci-fi or horror?  Well if you boil it down, you’ve got a monster stalking victims in an enclosed space.  That sounds like horror to me.  The Terminator, on the other hand (time-traveling robot tries to assassinate future savior of humanity before he’s born), sci-fi all the way.  Don’t even get me started on how Star Wars isn’t sci-fi at all, but fantasy.
    Anyway, I tried to write a book about what scares me.  Monsters don’t, really.  Gruesome death is scary enough, but more shocking than frightening on the page.  The things just beneath the surface that we can't quite see, the hidden truths that guide our existence even though we're not even aware of them, now those are scary: that the world might actually be something completely different than you thought it was; that there’s something out there you don’t understand at all and it’s trying to hurt you and you don’t know why.  Those things scare me.
     If that sounds a little obscure to you, check out two Twilight Zone episodes:  "And When the Sky Was Opened" and "Mirror Image."  Those are two fine, fine examples of what I mean.  Now, why do we like to scare ourselves to begin with?  That’s a whole different post.

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