TOD 050 The Art of Unease: Weird Fiction, Strange Stories, and Other Surreal Horrors That Mess With Your Head Panel from Necon 39

In this podcast The Outer Dark presents ‘The Art of Unease: Weird Fiction, Strange Stories, and Other Surreal Horrors That Mess With Your Head’, a panel from Necon 39 featuring Laird Barron, Nadia Bulkin, Victoria Dalpe, Todd Keisling, K.H. Vaughan, and moderated by John Foster, plus an exclusive interview with John Foster, a guest at all three The Outer Dark Symposia. The panel and presentation were recorded live at The Roger Williams University Baypoint Inn and Conference Center in Portsmouth, RI, on Friday July 19, 2019.

Intro: Special Guest John Foster

John Foster joins Anya to introduce the panel, discuss the unique experience of attending Necon, talk about his own recent and future fiction projects and preview some exciting The Outer Dark-partnered activities happening next week at NecronomiCon, August 22-25, 2019, in Providence, RI.

Show Notes

(00:23:30) The panel starts with panelists’ self-introductions and own varying definitions of The Weird, then segues into the difference between unease and fear and the place of each in Weird fiction. Laird Barron talks about editing the first Year’s Best Weird Fiction (Undertow Publications). Panelists agree on Robert Aickman as a quintessential Weird author and then veer sharply off the cliff into the Uncanny Valley, id and irrationality, and disconnect as drift. Next panelists discuss the authors (plus videogames, movies, folklore) who/which drew them to The Weird, including Daphne DuMaurier, Shirley Jackson, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Thomas Ligotti, and a ‘what-the-Hell’ Weird scene in a cave in E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India for Nadia Bulkin. Conversation touches upon how mundane an experience with The Weird can be, losing your place in the big book of Life, and tiny ‘bubbles’. The panelists recommend their favorite contemporary Weird authors including Ed Kurtz, Livia Llewellyn, Philip Fracassi, Stephen Graham Jones, Paul Tremblay, Gemma Files, Simon Strantzas, Lynda E. Rucker, S.P. Miskowski, Priya Sharma, Kelly Link, Selena Chambers, Gwendolyn Kiste, and Camilla Grudova. Plus questions from the audience (apologies for some low audio in this final segment).

Thank you to Nick Zaino for recording the panel, to Tony Tremblay for the photo used in this episode’s graphic, and Matt Bechtel and the amazing Booth family who have made Necon happen for 39 years for allowing us to share it.)

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Additional Links

John Foster reading at The Outer Symposium 2018

‘The Uncanny’ by Sigmund Freud

‘The Hospice’ by Robert Aickman

Marebito (2004) trailer

Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson

Great but Forgotten: William Johnston

Wicked Weird: An Anthology of New England Writers

Saffron and Brimstone: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand

Show Credits

Host/Executive Producer: Scott Nicolay

Co-Host, News From the Weird: Justin Steele

Producer/Show Notes: Anya Martin

Logo Design: Nick “The Hat” Gucker

Music: Michael Griffin


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