So You Want to Read Weird Fiction: Here’s Where to Start
It could be that you’re in the mood to dust off some old Edgar Allan Poe classics. Perhaps you’ve ventured into the world of H.P. Lovecraft and now want to expand those dark horizons. Or maybe you just watched “True Detective” Season One and are wondering what all those “carcosa” and The King in Yellow references were about. Whatever the case may be, an interest in weird fiction has been piqued; now the question is where to start.
Weird fiction is not an easily defined. It’s a literary style that can blend speculative fiction with elements of horror, fantasy, magical realism, Lovecraftian Cosmicism, and others to create a genre that is surreal and deeply unnerving. According to H.P. Lovecraft — a twentieth-century master of the genre — weird fiction is more than “secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains.” Although weird fiction most certainly has a grounding in the macabre, the central power of the weird tale is the ever-present sense of mounting and inescapable dread. Of forces outside both the power and understanding of man. According to Lovecraft, the weird is a malign suspension of the laws of nature, of the very things that we rely on to safeguard our fragile lives and psyches against the chaos and malignancy lurking just beyond the world we know. Even within this framework, the sheer breadth and style of weird fiction is daunting. Thankfully, there are more than a few good spots to dive in and test the surreal waters. Here are a few recommendations to get you started.