Fear and the Uncanny in Children’s Literature

This post’s delay brought to you by homework… and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Between the two, I entirely forgot about posting here yesterday.

My homework, by the way, involves rereading Parable of the Sower (and The Girl Who Owned A City, and The Summer Prince). My short end-of-term paper this semester is on the way in which fear and the uncanny are used to replicate the home-away-home structure of a children’s story (discussed by many people, though I’m mostly sourcing from Reimer in Keywords for Children’s Literature and Nodelman and Reimer in The Pleasures of Children’s Literature), without requiring a spatial journey. Essentially, I hypothesize that by using fear and the uncanny to create emotional distance from a space, the departure and return inherent in a home-away-home story can be emotional instead of spatial. Plus, you get some interesting dynamics where the protagonist tries to make an un-homelike space homelike (again, or maybe for the first time) instead of returning to a safe space that has remained safe the entire time. Oh, and I know that Parable of the Sower isn’t exactly a kids’ book, but it’s sometimes cross-shelved in YA and has a teenaged protagonist. So.

On the storytelling side of things, I’ve come up with an excellent conceit for an adventuring setting that allows you to go on dungeon crawls without having to twist yourself into pretzels trying to justify why there are so many monster-filled ruins all over the place. I won’t go into more detail here at present, because I want to write it up and submit it to Worlds Without Master. Maybe if I can’t get it published there I’ll put it up here.

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Flash Fiction: Thin Line

0171.-Jurassic-5-Power-In-Numbers

This week’s flash fiction prompt required me to come up with a title by randomly selecting a song from my music collection.  I got “Thin Line,” by Jurassic 5 (featuring Nelly Furtado).  While we weren’t required to use the song itself as an inspiration, I, uh, listened to Thin Line on repeat while I was writing.  The result feels very different from most other pieces that I’ve written, and follows the song’s theme of questioning how romantic / erotic relationships can coexist with friendships.  I was, quite honestly, surprised by the end.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.  Enjoy!

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Feed, by Mira Grant

Feed‘s appeal is a dangerous, slow, and creeping infection: you likely won’t recognize that it has its hooks in you until it’s too late, and at that point you’ll be too far gone to care.  In its early stages you’ll pick up the book every so often to read the next chapter, intrigued by the ease with which Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) has created these characters and given you a look at what it might mean to live with a real zombie apocalypse.  The midpoint of the infection is your last chance to cut your losses, as the curtain lifts on the real story of the book and intrigue and conspiracy begin to unfold before you.

There’s an exceedingly brief threshold in which you might be able to put down the book, and then the late-stage symptoms set in.  You will put off other work and be made upset by anything that comes between you and finishing.  Your only goal, at that point, is to make sure that you’re able to follow the rest of the story to its conclusion.  The last hundred pages are a rush, an excellent demonstration of a dramatic climax at its finest, and they’re irresistible.  Almost as soon as I had put down the book, I was already putting the next two on hold at the library.

Heck, I even did something else I haven’t done in ages and started reading the sample opening from the beginning of the next book, where it hid in the after-material.  I strongly suggest that you indulge yourself and give the book a try.  For those of you who want to hear more about the book, read on below…

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