Unobvious horrorsΒΆ

Tags: personal

I recently discovered my (if I had to name one) favourite author has started a weblog. L.E. Modesitt. Author of both fantasy and science fiction.

His last entry is about the unobvious horrors in his writing. If you write about guts and gore being splattered all over the place, you're approaching the horror genre. Modesitt doesn't write that way. Still he is surprised that some people call him a romantic: Yet... if my fantasy and science fiction have unsettling implications, why is it so seldom noticed?

For me, one of the main characteristics of his writing is that he takes one theme/theory/premise and takes it, and the reader, to the extreme consequence of it. And that extreme consequence can be quite unsettling. Even horrifying.

  • In the recluce series, there is a basically simple system of magic. Magic consists of both order and chaos, which balance. So increase the order (nice, cold steel warships, for instance) and somewhere else the amount of chaos will rise. So you secure your orderly part of the world and somewhere else chaos wizards have all the power they want to lay waste to the other part of the world. If you're into the series, such a cold rationality behind the magic system can be maddening. Some of that maddening effect seeps into your thinking about the real world, as there can be cold rationality behind many real-world decisions. Realpolitik, anyone?
  • For me the most horrifying is what happens in the ecolitan series, especially the double book Empire and Ecolitan . Cold calculation. Justified cold calculation. But cruelly cold calculation nonetheless. "We can prevent 2 billion deaths by killing off 20 million". Ahem. Great book, but this really is the unobvious horror of cold, justified calculation.
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About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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