Horror as the stock which flavors the whole

6 June 2018

Today we feature three stories of mothers and children.

In Autumn Christian’s “Flowers for Dogman,” the protagonist, Effy, a senior in high school, believes herself to have ceased to be human because of her father’s emotional absence and her mother’s obsession with the dogman, a mysterious creature who lives in the woods near their house. Her relationship with her mother (“A ghost of a woman, her body gone to make more room for her shadow.”) is at the heart of this brutal tale of family dysfunction.

In sharp contrast to Christian’s story, Joyce Chng’s “Dear Son” is a short letter from a loving and generous mother to her morally upstanding son, who must let go of her after death. In her introduction to Sharp & Sugar Tooth, editor Octavia Cade writes:

In “Dear Son” by Joyce Chng [ritual and recipe are] used to pass on generosity. . . . This is worldbuilding with horror as the stock which flavors the whole, and it’s a genuine shift from the horror of consumption and control, or of consumption and addiction, or starvation, because there’s communication in it and even (especially in Chng and Horáková) a genuine underpinning of healthy love.

In Julie Nováková’s “Frankenstein Sonata,” it’s the mother who must let go of her song after death—but she can’t, with horrifying consequences.

Julie Nováková writes:

What happened in the world of Frankenstein after Dr. Frankenstein, and to what lengths could a mother go to save her child? These were the tantalizing questions at the start of “The Frankenstein Sonata”. As to the use of music in the story, I’m frankly not sure where it came from – it was just there. I use music in my stories a lot (and it shows: The Symphony of Ice and Dust, Étude for An Extraordinary Mind…), and especially classical music and opera are a great source of inspiration to me. I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! I don’t mind if you listen to a little Fauré or Schumann alongside it. . . .

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About the Authors

Joyce Chng lives in Singapore. Her fiction has appeared in The Apex Book of World SF II, We See A Different Frontier, Cranky Ladies of History, and Accessing The Future. Joyce also co-edited The Sea is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia with Jaymee Goh. Her alter-ego is J. Damask.

Autumn Christian is a fiction writer who lives in the dark woods with poisonous blue flowers in her backyard and a black deer skull on her wall. She is waiting for the day when she hits her head on the cabinet searching for the popcorn bowl and all consensus reality dissolves. She’s been a freelance writer, a game designer, a cheese producer, a haunted house actor, and a video game tester. She considers Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, Katie Jane Garside, the southern gothic, and dubstep, as main sources of inspiration.

Julie Nováková is a Czech author and translator of SF, fantasy and detective stories. She has published short fiction in Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, Analog, and elsewhere. Her work in Czech includes seven novels, one anthology (Terra Nullius) and over thirty short stories. Some of her works have been also translated into Chinese, Romanian and Estonian. She received the Encouragement Award of the European science fiction and fantasy society in 2013, and the Aeronautilus award for the best Czech short story of 2014 and 2015, and for the best novel of 2015. Read more at www.julienovakova.com and follow her on Twitter @Julianne_SF.

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