Genre Anatomies

Rather than take a chronological view of the genres to spring from the taproot of 19th century short fiction, we would rather offer a brief cross-section of where they are now, rather than how they evolved to this stage.

Obviously many of the links below talk broadly of the genre across both long and short formats, as well as in visual media - film and television. As this forum develops we hope to bring some of the essays and ideas back to the short story specifically, to demonstrate the role played by the short form in each genre's evolution. For now, though we ask you to bear with us, as we look at each of them generally.


Central to development of the modern horror genre (as distinct from 'gothic romance') has been the writer's intuitive grasp of what Jentsch and Freud called 'the Uncanny' (das unheimlich). When Freud wrote his famous essay in 1919, he delineated a host of 'uncanny' phenomena that horror writers had already unconsciously plundered for over a century, and which filmmakers would go on to plunder, equally unconsciously (with exception of the Hitchcock perhaps), for the next century.

Reading Freud's list, one quickly begins to wonder whether there is anything left for the modern horror writer of integrity to write about! That is to say whether Freud's own exhaustiveness has dragged the craft into too harsh a light, making all later deployments of the uncanny cliched. The writer's impulse, when facing such an exhaustive list, is surely to try to invent something not included in it. And yet so few writers, since the publication of the essay, have!

Crime and Sci Fi coming soon.…