Showing posts from December, 2022

The Strange

Nathan Ballingrud, The Strange (Saga Press: 2023). This is weird science fiction that leaves you with a sense of cosmic awe!  I am fascinated by the take on alien otherness here. It reminds me of the manner in which Adrian Tchaikovsky approaches the other, but then Ballingrud takes it a step further; he picks at a Ligotti-like paradox within our own natures: an unfathomable alien mind, but at the same time, a reflection of our own bifurcated and contradictory selves. We are alien to ourselves. With a child protagonist, Ballingrud exposes the vulnerability of human survival, the lies we tell about our concept of justice and what is fair, and the naïve notion that we have any idea what is really going on. Maybe we are nothing more than a disease.

Fever Girls

  Linda Niehoff, "Fever Girls" in Weird Horror, Issue 4, Spring 2022, Undertow Publications. Read the story here on Weird Horror Magazine's website Having recently come under the influence of Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future” (2022) and Sebastián Lelio’s “The Wonder” (2022), I couldn’t help but see this weird story as a reflection on another perverse, deep-seated, paradoxical aspect of human beings (see Ligotti): we so much want something more out of our lives that we will kill ourselves to get it. To seek out sickness to feel better, to die in order to live. And the horrific cherry-on-top that Niehoff delivers here: in the end, it is even worse than all that and nothing at all what we expected. This one is worth digging into!  

The Seven Geases

  Clark Ashton Smith, "The Seven Geases" in  Weird Tales , Vol. 24 No. 4, October 1934. Read the story here on the Internet Archive The themes of this myth are at one with Ligotti’s philosophical pessimism. Humankind, distilled into the character of Ralibar Vooz, begins a senseless quest to kill for sport (to hunt the Voormis). He is soon made a diplomatic pawn (a useless one as it turns out), an offered sacrifice, beginning a repetitious cycle of the human being used as a mere means. Paradoxically, it is humanity that uses itself as a mere means and brings about the vicious cycle that results in its own doom, for it is actually a human who sets Ralibar off under the control of the first geas. Under the geases, the paradox of freedom without freedom is borne out as humanity is exposed as the living puppet that it is. As it turns out Ralibar, in virtue of his humanity, is an outsider, always out of place, an abomination to all he meets, useless and ultimately a kind of failure