Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #3-1: Science Fiction Horror Feature

A psychic horror setting and magical horror setting are just that, horror settings. Now it’s time to look at something that crosses genre lines. A natural fit for melding with the horror genre is the science fiction genre. People often look at science in wonder, but they also look at it and see things that they don’t understand. They see a great unknown. The unknown is always a perfect jumping off point for fear. That which is unknown is frightening--a pretty standard and correct axiom. Science will always be a point of fear for some. There is always something yet to be discovered. Better yet from the horror standpoint is that scientific discoveries are comparable to double-edged swords. These discoveries can be put to both beneficial and malevolent uses.

In the previous setting discussions the questions that needed to be asked were not exclusive. Most of the options chosen worked together. Answering one question did not make other questions moot. Most of the possibilities coexisted in a cohesive whole. When looking at a science fiction horror setting some of the questions, especially the earliest ones, will exclude other ones from being asked. As with horror, science fiction has its own sub-genres. The science fiction sub-genres though vary in ways that separate settings into entirely different lines that are hard to blur--not impossible--and may be undesirable to merge. Horror sub-genres share a common purpose, to instil an exciting level of fear. Science fiction sub-genres serve different purposes and have their own unique goals.

All of this means that the first question the author of a setting needs to ask is what science fiction setting is necessary for the horror to be injected? This is the first question if the author knows what kind of horror it is to be. If the author doesn’t know then there is some leeway. Conversely the author can know what kind of science fiction the story will be--remember it can be a storyline for a short story, a novel, a script, or for a role-playing game--and then decide based upon that the nature of the horror that will be a part of the final amalgamation. The articles to follow will look at the types of science fiction that work best with horror, how to incorporate the horror within the science framework, and all of the important decisions needed to traverse the line between the two genres.

Mood: sombre.
Music: Science Fiction/Double Feature by Me First & the Gimme Gimmes: Are a Drag and Hangar 18 by Megadeth.

Me First & the Gimme Gimmes: Are a Drag
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Megadeth: Anthology - Set The World Afire

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