Our in-house horror hound, Editor-in-Chief and all-round top chap Jonathan Oliver finishes his trawl through the finest frightening fiction out there. Check out the previous instalments (the Slasher, the Creature Feature, the Ghost Story and the Haunted House) and don’t forget, there’s 50% off all our horror eBooks over in the Rebellion Store…
The New Weird is the Old Weird. I think it was either China Mieville or M. John Harrison who coined the term New Weird, identifying a type of genre fiction that is hard to classify, taking and defying, as it does, many of genres tropes.
But while New Weird is a useful term, the weird in fiction is hardly new. (Seek out Jeff and Ann Vandermeer’s brilliant The Weird anthology for a history of the uncanny and strange in fiction, and many fine examples of such stories.) From Alice in Wonderland through the novels of Gormenghast, through to the genre bending works of China Mieville, the weird has been a force running through fiction for a long time.
Horror is an important part of the weird, and vice-versa. In fact, there is an argument to be made for horror being a tone, rather than a genre. You can find the discomfort and terror that horror provides in works that have never fallen under the label, and horror novels are frequently published merely under the banner Fiction.
The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien is one of my very favourite ‘horror’ novels. It was introduced to me by an old form tutor during my A levels, who noticed that I was reading William Hope Hodgson and recommended O’Brien’s deeply strange novel as something I would enjoy. I fell in love at first read and was delighted when it turned up on my university English course a few years later.
It’s so very difficult to sum up the plot of The Third Policeman, taking in, as it does, the strange philosophies of the mysterious de Selby, a rural comedy set in Ireland, the love a man has for his bicycle, policeman who are so attached to their bicycles they become bicycles themselves, and one of the most chilling and unique visions of hell ever to appear in literature.
Needless to say, what you should do is read The Third Policeman and let it work its disturbing charms on you.
The Course of the Heart by M. John Harrison
From Blue to Black by Joel Lane
Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar
The New Girl by S.L. Grey
The Fictional Man by Al Ewing
Osama by Lavie Tidhar
Cannobridge by Jonathan Barnes
Dream London by Tony Ballantyne
Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory