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The Muse Says Scare Me


Michele Dutcher


The connection between science fiction/fantasy and horror has always been a there. You can see this link in movies like Alien – where the setting is on a spaceship but the scary creature is ready to jump out and eat you at any time. In fact it is difficult to imagine a readable science fiction story where everything stays just peachy. Inevitably you need the plot turn of “And then everything went terribly wrong” to achieve any kind of suspense.

Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein The Modern Prometheus (published in 1823) is an obvious marriage of the two genres. The setting is a science laboratory but the horror comes from the idea of stitching together dead people to form a new sapient creature – and of the creature throwing little girls into lakes, which is unseemly at best.

Another early marriage of horror and science fiction is H. P. Lovecraft’s alien foundation for his short stories. Although we think of Lovecraft as horror, his story At the Mountains of Madness (published in 1931) has at its core a race of aliens called the Old Ones, beings of the Cthulhu Mythos, who traveled through time and space to eventually hibernate beneath the permanent ice pack of Antarctica.  He even proposes that humans were created by these aliens as a slave race and that life on Earth evolved from Scientific Experiments which were abandoned by these Elder things. This is all probably another good reason to work to stave off global warming which might melt the polar ice caps and release these creatures of ultimate doom (ha, ha).

“That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.”

Quote from Howard Phillips Lovecraft

To list a few more of these crossovers:

War of the Worlds - aliens from Mars supplying the terror;

A Clockwork Orange - a tromp through the human mind of serial killers;

Planet of the Apes - humans being treatedthe way humans treat the rest of the animal kingdom;

The Martian – who uses the planet’s natural forces as the lead character’s nemesis;

and Donnie Darko - that proves no matter how bad things are or who dies, time travel only makes everything a whole lot worse.

A couple of science fiction movies that do not have a horror element are Close Encounters of the Third Kind – where it turns out that (spoiler alert) the aliens really are friendly beings who want to communicate with humans, even taking the protagonist’s hand to playfully take him aboard their ship – and the children’s classic Wall-E.  There is suspense in both of these films but not really horror.

In the fantasy genre, The Lord of the Ring comes to mind where the Eye of Sauron can spy on helpless hobbits whenever they let their guard down, along with the terror of Shelob, the giant spider, Gollum, and the nine Black Riders. 

Anyways, the point I’m trying to make is that Science Fiction/Fantasy and Horror are natural soulmates – so it is only fitting that Quantum Muse runs a horror contest again this year.  There will be cash prizes for the 3 best stories. The winners will be published in the October issue. Timothy Goyette, our esteemed editor, will be the judge, having the final say in which stories are chosen. All stories need to be submitted to Tim by September 23rd at midnight by emailing your story to: qmsupport@gmail.com or micheledutcher@yahoo.com (I will be happy to forward it to the editor).  

So get out your pen and paper, laptop, or blood and sheepskin – the Muse says, “Scare Me”.      




2017-09-26 14:14:14
GordonRowlinson - I saw the Frankenstein movie over the weekend and Victor Frankenstein does not die in the movie. At the end of the movie his wife gives birth to a son. I think the movie makers were attempting a positive ending where he did create life but in a natural way.

2017-09-02 10:45:22
GordonRowlinson - I have a theory on the popularity of the Frankenstein novel and movies. The plot taps into a deep internal human fear of playing God. Dr. Frankenstein creates his own lifeform which is playing God. When readers read the story, we immediately think that Dr Frankenstein has done something taboo or sacrilegious. When Victor Frankenstein dies, it is a satisfying ending to the tragic story as he was messing with things he shouldn't have. Yeah, it's a great mix of Horror and Sci Fi.

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