Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #4-5: Brave New Horrors

There is another popular time setting for fantasy stories. It borders somewhat on the modern, but only as a matter context--it’s a matter of scale. It is also a time setting that is conducive to horror. This makes it only fitting that it is a good time period within which to set up horror fantasy works. It is the Victorian horror fantasy period. The Victorian Age is the same as the Industrial Age within enough leeway for the purposes of creating a setting. Any discrepancy is lost due to the fictional aspects dealing with technology in the setting. Even the fantasy elements will pull the setting away from true. There is still some need to watch for anachronisms though. Any anachronisms should be on purpose and fill a horror need, or be part of one of the fantasy tropes.

The Victorian era has an automatic built-in horror meme. It was a time rife with the exploration of not only the physical world, and the mechanical world, but also the spiritual world. It was a high time for mediumship. Séances came into fashion in a big way--it actually peaks late in the period so real, historical time, gets manipulated as part of the fantasy requirement. This same era also believes extensively in the fae, faeries, and the Seelie Court--as far as existing settings in this time period are concerned. Again, this is another built-in source of possible horror. Monsters and unholy creatures are never out of style in any horror setting and will tend toward the fantasy aesthetic more than a modern approach. Magic also tends the same way as the monstrous and infernal.

The Industrial Revolution brought about several kinds of horror from the mundane, to the science-fictional. This makes for an exceptional number of elements and variants that enhance the setting options available even as it further blurs the genre lines. The time period was one of exploration in many senses. The usual focus of these settings is the British Empire, whether the location is in Britain, or abroad in such places as North America, Africa, India, Australia or elsewhere. The British explored all over the place--as did the French and Spanish--and claimed whatever places they could. On the home front the exploration was in science and mechanics. Machines hardly imagined before became reality and made massive changes to the world.

Music: All the Money in the World by Black Lab and Inside The Machine by Bruce Dickinson.

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