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October 2002
© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Bosch, Hieronymous, Garden of Earthly Delights (right panel)

Editorial License: Fantasy, Horror, and Being Human - by Ernest Lilley - Editor/SFRevu

Fantasy. We all understand why we like Fantasy, or at least it's easier to accept as escapism or wish fulfillment, or something, easier than Horror, that is.

So why do we crave (each according to their own taste) Horror? Stories about bad things happening, usually to good people? And why good people? Part of the answer both, it seems to me, is because bad things happening to good people evokes what they called back in my psych classes a "cognitive dissonance"…and if it's strong enough, it's a weird sensation. Is it pleasure? Is it pain? It's weirdness incarnate, it's the essence of "a strange feeling" and you either have a taste for it or you don't. No, let me take that back…you do have a taste for it, a hunger for it…but you may not want to admit it.

On the other hand, if you get pleasure from reading about the horrific, you may also have issues about others that you should probably see a professional for help with.

Personally, Horror scares me, and when I'm scared I want to fight something. When they were handing out fight or flight reflexes I got shortchanged on the run away part. So Horror stories leave me sitting there mute, adrenalized and impotent.

Well, being scared is part of the human experience, so we might as well enjoy it. In the safety of a comfy chair, with a cup of tea, and a good book of Horror and Fantasy. Mixing the two has the utility of keeping you guessing which you're in for when a story starts…and it only becomes clear when the creaks in your chair turn into the phantom strangler creeping up behind you to slip a silken noose around your neck.

So what's the difference between Fantasy and Horror? Who comes out on top, for one thing.

Ernest Lilley
Editor – SFRevu

Related Links:

Tabula Rosa: A History of Horror: www.tabula-rasa.info/DarkAges/VladTheImpaler.html

http://cgi.di.uoa.gr/~grad0146/English/works.html

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