Weird fiction is a genre that’s potentially going through a golden age of sorts, with lots of stories out there to thrill and disturb. More and more writers who may have once been classified as horror or magic realism are producing stories and novels that are dark, subtly suggestive, occasionally visceral, and always beautifully written. Weird fiction encapsulates what I love about horror (the gloom and the dust, and the unflinching examination of things that make us uncomfortable), written in elevated, literary prose that puts more emphasis on the human experience and existential terror. And I’m lucky to be awash in the stuff lately–I’ve so much to read I can hardly keep up with it.
I’ve just finished The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 2, a collection of highly lyrical stories of the strange, which I can say I enjoyed nearly all. The previous volume of the Year’s Best Weird was heavy in that Laird Barron type of cosmic horror, which is super fun, but I’m thrilled to see this volume exploring the more magic realism sides of the genre, softer and stranger at the same time. The narrative of many of the stories broaches on experimental, which works for a lot of readers like myself who want to see the world turned on its side in their fiction. The most memorable stories were, for me, Nathan Ballingrud’s “The Atlas of Hell” and K.M. Ferebee’s “The Earth and Everything Under,” but that’s not to say virtually all the stories in this volume I loved.
I’m also tearing through the Feb 2016 issue of The Dark that, like earlier issues, is so far a fantastic read. The stories the editors usually select for the magazine seem to lean toward dark fantasy and traditional horror, but such highly literary versions of those genres that I think the publication fits well with fans of the weird. Stories like Amber van Dyk’s “And the Woods are Silent” represent what I love about this publication–rich with imagery and feeling, both beautiful and macabre. Not to mention, signing up for the newsletter nets a reader a bunch of their back issues, which is fantastic, so I’ll be enjoying those for some time.
Finally, I’ve been a reader of The Weird Fiction Review online for awhile, as it is a great place to discover and rediscover writers of the weird. Recently they’ve began a novel serialization of Richard A. Kirk’s “The Lost Machine”, which I actually can’t wait to read the end of. This is an exciting development for me, as I thought I’d entirely lost my patience for novels–apparently all I needed was to break one up into pieces. It helps that Kirk’s story is really strange, full of images that grab the reader and refuse to explain the dark forces toiling behind them. The world that slowly knits together in this story is wild, with a flavor of post-apocalypse, gloomy, and quietly dangerous, and I’ll be sitting at the edge of my seat for the next installment to come out.