Posted by B.J. Burrow on May 8, 2013 in Apex Publications Blog: Matters of SF, Fantasy, and Horror | 0 comments
A man walks into a bar carrying a shoggoth under one arm and a Nyarlathotep in the other.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
So, the bartender—the bartender, he says, “Hey, buddy! You’re machen me crazy here!”
Holy shit, that is the worst thing I’ve ever written. It’s horrible. Alien. Obscene. I can’t read it again, edit it, or look at it.
I’m afraid I might lose my mind.
“Weird Fiction” is not a broad genre for me. It is very specific, and while the quantity of work is limited, it is still producible today, if one so chooses to take the risk. (For a differing, and interesting, perspective on “Weird Fiction,” check out Douglas F. Warrick’s blog. )
In the 1920’s when the CEO of Chthulhu H.P. Lovecraft (the H.P. stands for Hewlett Packard) wrote the mission statement for his company, he came up with this: We promise to deal in great, alien truths that threaten one’s sanity. (Lovecraft was the Walt Disney of “Weird Fiction,” and for an exploration on the Disneyfication of Cthulhu, check out Fran Wildes‘ very amusing blog. And as another aside, I hate the ‘It’s a Terrible World’ ride—mainly because of the song—but ‘The Mountains of Madness’ ride totally rocks).
There are many writers of “Weird Fiction” other than Mr. Lovecraft, but there was One Who Came First.
Arthur Machen (1863-1947) waited until he was thirty-one-years-old to unleash the horrible truth that is “The Great God Pan.” Stephen King has stated that this work is ”maybe the best [horror story] in the English language.“
Lovecrafts’ essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” puts forth that Machen was one of four modern masters of supernatural horror.
Machen tore open the literary fabric, unleashing the terrible gods who still, today, roam freely through horror literature.
And oh, how he crafted his stories…
His dialogue can be highly stylized and awkward, but this somehow adds to his ability to put the reader off balance.
He sometimes layered his first person narration. A story might start out narrated by CHARACTER A, but halfway through the story, CHARACTER A reads a first-person-letter from CHARACTER B, and halfway through CHARCTER B’s letter, CHARACTER B recalls a story from CHARACTER C and records it in CHARACTER C’s first person voice. Wait, who’s telling this story?
Machen didn’t stop there. He peppered ‘weirdness’ throughout his fiction, taking readers up blind alleyways and down dark rabbit holes.
Machen throws at the reader unspeakable totems, unreadable books, lost cultures, hidden worlds, and mind boggling abnormalities.
These surreal, weird touches don’t mark Machen’s work as “Weird Fiction.”
It’s the alien truths that shatter one’s sanity that categorizes his work as such.
And all writers of “Weird Fiction” pay tribute at the altar of the Great God Machen.
So, a man walks into a bar carrying an Elder God under his arm. The bartender says, “Hey,” and the world ends.
From Author BJ Burrow
Chris is an ordinary guy with a boring job, a perfect fiancé, and plans for a happy, if predictable, future. But when the dead stop dying and become, instead, simply “changed,” ordinary isn’t so comforting anymore. Wandering stray animals suddenly develop a taste for flesh and brains, and while most of the human zombies might be harmless, can anyone really be sure?
With the help of a morning show shock-jock who has recently turned into a zombie and the burnt-out walking remains of a businessman, Chris becomes the backbone of a fight for undead rights among the fear, prejudice, and uncertainty dividing the living and the not quite dead.
BJ Burrow co-wrote the screenplay to the SyFy movie The Monster Hunter (starring David Carradine). His first novel, The Changed, was released by Apex Publications. He lives in Austin, TX, with his wife Melissa and their three children. Visit him on the web at www.bjburrow.net. He is proud of winning his fantasy football league four out of ten times. He is currently working on his second novel.