Tonight’s Read: A World of Horror, An Anthology of Dark & Speculative Fiction from Around the World, ed. by Eric J. Guignard, 2017 (Intro + TOC + Links)

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Praise for A World of Horror

“Guignard’s editorial prowess is evident throughout; he has selected works that are as shocking as they are thought-provoking. This breath of fresh air for horror readers shows the limitless possibilities of the genre.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A fresh collection of horror authors exploring monsters and myths from their homelands.” —Library Journal

“A cultural tour in the sacred art of horror—definitive proof that ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and more are equally terrifying in every corner of the world.” —Fanbase Press

“This is the book we need right now! Fresh voices from all over the world, bringing American audiences new ways to feel the fear. Horror is a universal genre and for too long we have only experienced one western version of it. No more. Get ready to experience a whole new world of terror.” —Becky Spratford; librarian, reviewer, RA for All: Horror


Introduction: Diversity in Fiction

THIS, ANTHOLOGY, A WORLD OF HORROR, MARKS THE SIXTH I have edited (fifth published, with another forthcoming). Most of those books involved quite a bit of “slush reading,” meaning thousands of submissions coming in from hopeful authors around the world that I would evaluate and discard or accept. Although when I say “around the world,” what I mean is that roughly 95% of the submissions came from the same geographic areas of predominantly-speaking English nations (North America, England, and Australia) with a few outliers from elsewhere. It makes sense: I’m posting for stories in English, offering to print in English, and so English-speaking writers respond.

Yet at the same time, I also despair of reading the “stock voice,” meaning similar stories of plot structure, similar characters and situations, similar belief systems, similar fears; by no means does that imply what I’m reading is “bad,” but just that sameness leads to apathy of literature.

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In general, I think there’s a lack of cultural diversity in horror fiction, and I also think that’s something audiences want to see changed . . . at least I think that based on my own perspective: I love reading stories from authors around the world, because I love stories. I love fresh voices, unique ideas, I love discovering lesser-known monsters or fables, I love reading about history and civilizations and other peoples’ perceptions and conventions. And, while I think all this, I realize I’m part of the problem. Because of what came in via slush submissions on my prior projects, I didn’t look beyond, and I ended up publishing and promoting that very sameness of English-speaking authors who are all generally white, educated, and economically advantaged, and who, really, make up only a small percentage of the global population. Truly, there’s no shortage of tales to be shared from the rest of the world, but not everyone has the opportunity.

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A house transforms into a merry-go-round at the whim of a dispassionate, disembodied face, in Conjuring Trick, a novel by Eunice Buckley (Book cover via 54mge)

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More “Lovecraftiana”

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Unless otherwise noted, all artists are unknown (Source: Pinterest/tumblr).

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Cthulhu Art

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Artist unknown (Pinterest).

Check Out These Old-Fashioned Radio-Style Program Recordings of Horror Stories by H. P. Lovecraft! (+Link)

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Link to Buy

https://store.hplhs.org/

“The Thing on the Doorstep”—A Tale of Horror by H. P. Lovecraft, 1933

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Art by Joseph Diaz.

The Thing on the Doorstep

H. P. Lovecraft, 1933

The Thing on the Doorstep is a horror short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft, part of the Cthulhu Mythos universe. It was written in August 1933, and first published in the January 1937 issue of Weird Tales.

I.

It is true that I have sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to shew by this statement that I am not his murderer. At first I shall be called a madman—madder than the man I shot in his cell at the Arkham Sanitarium. Later some of my readers will weigh each statement, correlate it with the known facts, and ask themselves how I could have believed otherwise than as I did after facing the evidence of that horror—that thing on the doorstep.

Until then I also saw nothing but madness in the wild tales I have acted on. Even now I ask myself whether I was misled—or whether I am not mad after all. I do not know—but others have strange things to tell of Edward and Asenath Derby, and even the stolid police are at their wits’ ends to account for that last terrible visit. They have tried weakly to concoct a theory of a ghastly jest or warning by discharged servants, yet they know in their hearts that the truth is something infinitely more terrible and incredible.

So I say that I have not murdered Edward Derby. Rather have I avenged him, and in so doing purged the earth of a horror whose survival might have loosed untold terrors on all mankind. There are black zones of shadow close to our daily paths, and now and then some evil soul breaks a passage through. When that happens, the man who knows must strike before reckoning the consequences.

I have known Edward Pickman Derby all his life. Eight years my junior, he was so precocious that we had much in common from the time he was eight and I sixteen. He was the most phenomenal child scholar I have ever known, and at seven was writing verse of a sombre, fantastic, almost morbid cast which astonished the tutors surrounding him. Perhaps his private education and coddled seclusion had something to do with his premature flowering. An only child, he had organic weaknesses which startled his doting parents and caused them to keep him closely chained to their side. He was never allowed out without his nurse, and seldom had a chance to play unconstrainedly with other children. All this doubtless fostered a strange, secretive inner life in the boy, with imagination as his one avenue of freedom.

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My New Favorite Writer: “A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love” a Story by Eric J. Guignard (+ Links)

This is first-rate prose. I am enamoured of the style. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love

Eric Guignard, 2018


Yesterday I saw Jamie Goodwin burst into flame.

He was just sitting on one of those cheap aluminum-back chairs we all have, eyes closed in the shade of Hester’s old RV, trying to get some relief from the heat, same as everyone else. I was checking the stock of coolers, seeing if any held even a bit of water left to siphon out, when Jamie let out a tiny gasp like he woke from a bad dream. If it was a bad dream he had, he woke to something worse, ’cause little glints of light popped and fizzed off him like the sparklers we used to wave around on Fourth of July. Smoke or steam or something else rose up, then Jamie’s eyes went cartoon-big and he turned into a fireball.

Jamie’s the fourth person to spontaneously combust this month. Two women burned last Wednesday, and old Tom Puddingpaw blazed the week prior. Before that, we averaged only one or two fireballs a month, but now it’s getting worse. And after Jamie burned, Ms. Crankshaw didn’t even cancel lessons like she normally did, as if coming to terms that folks fireballing was the new natural order of things.

“That’s another lesson in evolution. One day we’re apes, then we’re humans, now we’re fireballs.”

She didn’t really say that, but she might as well have.

At least Loud John and Rudy were there when Jamie burned, and they contained his cinders so it didn’t spread like when Quiet John caught flame. But I still saw the whole thing, and it still scared me, even if others pretend to somehow be getting used to it.

“I watched him die,” I tell my friends. “Jamie didn’t scream. I think he tried, since his mouth opened wide, but nothing came out except flames.”

“Why is this happening for no reason?” Ogre asks, though that question is rhetorical because he doesn’t expect an answer. His voice hitches and he overcompensates for it by yelling, “When’s it going to stop?”

That’s rhetorical too.

We’re not supposed to be outdoors because of the heat, but we’re wearing protection, and sometimes out in the desert is the only place we can talk without everyone else listening in.

“I told you we weren’t safe,” Liz says. “Ms. C.’s wrong or she’s lying to us. Anybody can fireball.”

“No one ever tells us the truth,” Tommy adds. “It’s stupid going to lessons if everyone shields us from what’s really happening. I mean, what’re we learning? Facts or make-believe?”

Me and Tommy and Liz and Ogre are shooting at sand lizards with a pair of slingshots. I oughta clarify we’d shoot at anything daring our range of rocks and marbles, but it was too hot for anything but lizards to come out under the sun.

“The adults don’t want us to know…” A red bandana covers half of Liz’s face, so her voice is muffled. “I think we’re all gonna die.”

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