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Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2020 05:35PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Speaking of Hodgson, his short stories "Out Of The
> Storm" or "Through The Vortex Of A Cyclone" are
> definitely eerie without having any supernatural
> or fantastic elements about them.

Which also calls to mind Poe's "A Descent into the Maelstrom".

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: GreenFedora (IP Logged)
Date: 17 August, 2020 12:53PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> GreenFedora Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > "The Colour Out of Space," HPL
> > "The Voice in the Night," William Hope Hodgson
>
> Eerie these are, but I would also certainly say
> they involve "the fantastic".
>
> In Hodgson's case, perhaps you were thinking of a
> different, posthumous, story, called "The Voice
> in the Dawn" or "The Call in the Dawn". That one
> was certainly eerie as well, but I can see someone
> more plausibly arguing that it contains no
> fantastic elements. I'm still not sure I'd agree,
> though. It does feature a weed island torn from
> Hodgson's version of the "Sargasso sea" which is a
> fantastic element in and of itself.

In that case, you will have to define "fantastic" for me. The HPL story involves an extraterrestrial substance (hardly "fantastic" but definitely sf). And I was not thinking of a different Hodgson story. "The Voice in the Night" is about two people subsumed by a fungus -- again, not "fantastic" in my estimation.

Frankly, all these terms and definitions are ultimately so subjective, I don't know why I even bother posting. It just isn't fun anymore...

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 17 August, 2020 01:31PM
I have no stories to contribute, but "fantastic" in this thread essentially means anything unreal, which would also include alien creatures, shrink rays, and fungi that can transform human beings. None of these things are real, or at least known to exist yet, and are currently just products of human imagination.

The entity from "Colour Out of Space" is described with scientific terms, but is itself quite an unlikely creature.

Edit: It's a bit easy to miss, but the thread title also excludes "sf."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 17 Aug 20 | 01:32PM by Hespire.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 17 August, 2020 01:51PM
GreenFedora Wrote:
> In that case, you will have to define "fantastic"
> for me.

Perhaps this question would be best addressed to the OP. This is his thread, after all. But I understand "fantastic fiction" (as distinct from "fantasy fiction") to be a catch-all term that covers both the "fantasy" genre and the "sci fi" genre.

> The HPL story involves an extraterrestrial
> substance (hardly "fantastic" but definitely sf).

I've never been a fan of that strain of thought that thinks supernatural elements cease to be supernatural merely because they come from outer space. And I would consider "The Colour Out of Space" a prime example of a supernatural story with only the thinnest veneer of being a sci-fi story. The only fictional or speculative science presented is so far beyond human comprehension that it might as well be magic.

But I thought that the OP neatly avoided that whole thorny issue by asking about "fantastic elements" rather than "supernatural elements". Again, I'm not sure if this was his intent, especially since he does reference the "supernatural" as well.

> And I was not thinking of a different Hodgson
> story. "The Voice in the Night" is about two
> people subsumed by a fungus -- again, not
> "fantastic" in my estimation.

Well, I'd certainly be surprised if it happened in my neighborhood. No remotely analogous fungal disease is known to exist in nature. But again, I don't know what the OP had in mind.

> Frankly, all these terms and definitions are
> ultimately so subjective, I don't know why I even
> bother posting.

Indeed. If the terms are purely subjective, how, then can we communicate? There's no point in even attempting a discussion if we don't at least strive for a common basis of understanding. But it could well be that I am the one who has understood the OP incorrectly.

> It just isn't fun anymore...

I'm sorry you feel that way. I was only trying to exchange ideas. And if the words used by you, me and the OP mean totally different things, then perhaps that is something that should be hashed out.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 17 Aug 20 | 02:23PM by Platypus.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 20 August, 2020 05:01PM
She Walks in Darkness (first published in 2013, but written back in the 1960s) by Evangeline Walton.
[www.goodreads.com]

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 20 August, 2020 09:22PM
Hi -- author of the original posting here. I wrote, "This thread is for the identification and discussion of stories that have a real quality of eeriness but do not involve the fantastic. I suppose there might be stories that could have a supernatural explanation, but this would not be the inevitable explanation. I would prefer to rule out stories that are plainly accounts of telepathy or precognition."

"The Colour Out of Space" and "The Voice in the Night" are (to my knowledge -- I've read all of Lovecraft but not all of Hodgson) the masterpieces of their authors working in the short story form. I have high regard for them and taught them repeatedly in my university career. They show how the genre of fantasy can do things that can only be done through fantasy and that are manifestly worth doing. Accordingly, they justify that genre.

But they certainly involve the fantastic. The reader knows that they deal with the unreal. No one actually thinks that the world we live in contains bizarre transcosmic substances that consume the vitality of earth creatures, or fungi that subsume the flesh and bones of humans. effecting a ghastly metamorphosis such as Hodgson suggests.

Thus they don't fit this thread.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 20 Aug 20 | 09:23PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 21 August, 2020 03:25PM
An observation about the notion of "thread focus".

In general I am in favor of sticking closely to a stated topic in a single thread--and especially so if the discussion represents itself as a more formal and systematic exploration--but such are the dynamics of this group that any attempt to steer discussions back to the stated topic is more likely to be the kiss of death for the thread. And I believe that this is because this forum is a de facto *informal* social exchange. A lot like an exclusive 19th C British gentlemen's club, with cigars, port, reminiscences, dry humor, and a lot of "HARRUMPH!"-ing, etc.

What happens is that when asked to clone an emergent topic off to a new thread, it effectively discourages any further new and interesting explorations that may have organically arisen from the discussion as it developed. This may be because the ownership of the new thread is ambiguous and essentially it drops thru the cracks. This is usually caused by the inconvenience of starting a new thread, and taking the time to explain the context of how the new topic emerged. As silly as it sounds, this is often enough to discourage the creation of the cloned thread, and at the same time killing any further off-topic explorations on the original thread.

So I guess I'm proposing that we consider whether allowing that an organic divergence from the stated topic of a thread is proper for the evolved nature of this forum, which I take to be informal, conversational, and to a lesser degree collegial.

Me, I could go either way on this, but I would note that traffic here at ED is pretty sparse and a part of why this is, is a reluctance to diverge from a topic or to make the effort to clone a new thread.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 21 August, 2020 03:42PM
As one who stopped using most forms of social media primarily because people are more obsessed with rules (and rule-breaking) than they are with lasting conversations, I see where Sawfish is coming from and agree with him wholeheartedly. Once or twice I've suggested making separate topics to counteract any digressions of my own, but given the state of this place, it doesn't mean much if you begin a thread about CAS and Theosophy but end up discussing cats and Lovecraft (I'm sure a bridge could be made between the two subjects, using the Egyptian cat goddesses).



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 21 Aug 20 | 03:44PM by Hespire.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 21 August, 2020 06:36PM
Sawfish Wrote:
> Me, I could go either way on this, but I would
> note that traffic here at ED is pretty sparse and
> a part of why this is, is a reluctance to diverge
> from a topic or to make the effort to clone a new
> thread.

But ... no-one was trying to forbid divergence from the original topic. We were simply trying to understand one another.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 21 August, 2020 06:59PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> > Me, I could go either way on this, but I would
> > note that traffic here at ED is pretty sparse
> and
> > a part of why this is, is a reluctance to
> diverge
> > from a topic or to make the effort to clone a
> new
> > thread.
>
> But ... no-one was trying to forbid divergence
> from the original topic. We were simply trying to
> understand one another.

Certainly, and that's just fine, but I've run up against the issue I raised, I took the trouble to clone, and felt that it was more trouble than it would have otherwise been to simply evolve the thread under the same topic heading.

I did it once or twice, then abandoned the practice. I have also refrained to a fair degree from diverging from a given topic because I'd read enough reminders either to stay on topic, or to clone, that I felt that others believed it to be important. That's why I raised the issue: to see how others feel.

Ultimately, it results in less contribution to this forum and I wondered if others had noticed how this might work against an expansion of exchanges.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 06:07AM
What about 'The Monkey's Paw'? Sure, everybody knows the basic plot, but there's a general assumption it's a ghost story, even though nothing ghostly or supernatural actually happens. Some stories are very slippery in this respect. You'd really need to know what the author's intentions were - ie, did Jacobs set out to write a ghost story or is 'The Monkey's Paw'a study in psychology? By the same token, there are other stories (e.g. Dahl's The Landlady) in which nothing untoward happens but you have a clear idea that something bad is going to happen and that the author wants you to deduce as much.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 07:08AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> An observation about the notion of "thread
> focus".

Most other forums have sections for off topic general discussions. But not this one. Here we call on everyone's attention, even those who are not interested. I think it is a good thing to stick to topic, with small divergences allowed if they can help clarify round about.

I suggest starting a separate thread for general wide discussions about literature, art, and life, in which you can bring anything up.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 11:01AM
I agree with Knygatin.

I joined the ED forum fairly recently. When I look over titles of our discussions over the years, I go by the titles. If I see a thread title like "William Sloane" -- started four years ago by Minicthulhu -- I figure that could be interesting, since I enjoyed To Walk the Night and The Edge of Running Water. If a good discussion of these novels got going as a tangent under a thread on, I dunno, Stephen King (since I think King liked Sloane's novels), I'm going to miss that discussion, because a thread on King is not something I would be likely to look into. I'm sure ED folk who are active right now would like to see more people get involved (in good ways), so a case can be made on their behalf. Conversely, if an interesting tangent gets going on one thread, it really shouldn't be too hard for the participants to take it to a new thread -- or so I would have thought.

There you have my 2c worth.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 03:03PM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What about 'The Monkey's Paw'? Sure, everybody
> knows the basic plot, but there's a general
> assumption it's a ghost story, even though nothing
> ghostly or supernatural actually happens. Some
> stories are very slippery in this respect. You'd
> really need to know what the author's intentions
> were - ie, did Jacobs set out to write a ghost
> story or is 'The Monkey's Paw'a study in
> psychology? By the same token, there are other
> stories (e.g. Dahl's The Landlady) in which
> nothing untoward happens but you have a clear idea
> that something bad is going to happen and that the
> author wants you to deduce as much.

Personally, I would not hesitate to classify "The Monkey's Paw" as a tale of the supernatural. But I understand what you are saying. Certainly, Jacobs has given the supernatural elements of the tale "plausible deniability". Perhaps you could say the same about his second most famous ghost story, "The Toll House", but I'd have to reread it to be sure.

Which leads to another question: If we include stories that merely "suggest" the supernatural, at what point do "eerie" stories become "tales of the supernatural" almost by definition? Surely "eerie" and "spooky" are rather synonymous to some extent? No? Even spooky stories with "Scooby Doo endings", such as "The Hound of the Baskervilles", are in some sense tales of the supernatural, in terms of their appeal.

But I can probably think of a few other "ghost stories" where the ghost has quite a bit of plausible deniability. One example I that comes to mind at the moment is Sheridan Le Fanu's "An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street" (1853). I'd say that that has rather more "plausible deniability" than "The Monkey's Paw". It might possibly be an example of what the OP is looking for.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 22 Aug 20 | 03:05PM by Platypus.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 03:17PM
My intention, Platypus -- if this helps -- with this thread is for us to develop a bibliography (with accompanying "annotation") of stories that get across an eerie sensation without, at most, doing more than to suggest the supernatural or the fantastic. Personally I'd probably shy away, here, from stories like "The Monkey's Paw" that seem to be stories of the supernatural even if the supernatural element isn't quite undeniable.

This is a pretty specific category of stories we're talking about, then, but that's just it. Here we have assembled readers who may have a lot of experience of the literature of the strange and who find that they can indeed identify some stories as belonging to this type of group. It must be something that only a few authors have done and done well.*

I would encourage the curious to read "The Hour After Westerly" and The Ice Palace, which I mentioned as examples of what I have in mind in the original posting. The latter (a short novel) is something I might want to reread yet this year. If I do, perhaps I'll set up a thread on it for anyone interested.

*Possibly it dates back to Wordsworth. He and Coleridge agreed, as young men, that STC would write poems of the supernatural, and he did -- "Christabel," the "Rime," "Kubla Khan." They agreed that WW would write poems (and I forget precisely how STC put it) that have the effect of the supernatural or the preternatural without clearly departing from the natural, and so we get poems like the one about the rural wanderer who heard the girl singing in a tongue he couldn't understand, something, he was sure, coming out of long cultural memory and so on -- was that "The Solitary Reaper"?

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