Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #4-8: Industrial Phantasmagoria

Victorian Age horror is rife not only with the supernatural but also the mechanical and the scientific.  Steam locomotives had been in use for quite some time.  Photography came about as the age began.  Gas lighting became widespread.  The London sewer system was built. People were working on and produced motorised vehicles.  The tail end was witness to engineering feats like the Brooklyn Bridge, and modern innovations like the incandescent light and phonograph.  On the science front Darwin published his "On the Origin of Species", and Faraday laid the groundwork for understanding the connection between electricity, magnetism, and light.  Medical breakthroughs brought about surgery with anaesthesia, the creation of vaccines, and the first use of X-rays scans.

These wild and exotic innovations provide great twisting points for horror.  They start at a basic level with the mundane.  The industrialisation of the textile industry, the spread of mining, and the rise of tenements and slums provided hellish environments with dangerous and desperate conditions.  Child labour was an all too common occurrence.  Any of these could be the basis of revenge from beyond the grave or from the living.  As marvellous as the phonograph was there was also much fear over what it implied, which was compounded by later attempts to combine it with spiritualism ideas to build devices that could communicate with the dead.  Such merging of spirits and science owes its due back to Doctor Frankenstein galvanising the dead back to life.

Mad scientists also followed in the perverted footprints of Frankenstein, but with their eyes open, intent on creating monstrosity and working toward world domination--since Britain showed it could be done.  What kind of scientific perversity are they into though?  The process of Eugenics can be used to make super men and women bringing about a master race.  Hybridisation mixes different animals together or men with animals.  Mechanisation is another route.  Tear a subject apart, amputate limbs, remove organs and create openings.  Fill those voids with gears and mechanical assemblies and replace limbs with faster and stronger motor driven parts of cold hard steel.  All of them could ultimately be combined even, with a supernatural element added for extra terrifying potential.

Mood: relieved.
Music: Haunted by Evanescence and March Of The Pigs by Nine Inch Nails.

Evanescence: Fallen
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Now at Amazon.COM NOT CA.

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Nine Inch Nails: Downward Spiral
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