Where Are We Going? Some Reflections on British Horror

Nina Allan has written a great piece over at Strange Horizons. It looks at British Horror, the present and the future. She bases her thoughts on FantasyCon in Nottingham.

One of the events I was most looking forward to at last autumn’s FantasyCon in Nottingham was a panel I was invited to sit on entitled “British Horror: Present and Future.” Our brief was to explore and discuss where British horror is currently at, what the future might hold, and how and if the field is becoming more diverse. We enjoyed a spirited discussion, including some enthusiastic contributions from the audience, but with less than an hour in hand, there was never going to be enough time to cover all bases. I felt particularly disappointed that the panel became somewhat bogged down in the perennial griping about the publishing industry that tends to go on, leaving even less time for what seemed to me at the outset to be the central points of importance in the discussion: where are we going as horror readers, writers, and editors, and how and how much greater diversity—of subject matter, of stylistic approach, of influence, of gender, of sexuality, of social and ethnic background—is being encouraged within the field. I came away from Nottingham still mulling this over.

Somewhat conveniently for the purposes of this discussion, FantasyCon 2015 saw the launch of three “best of” horror anthologies: the latest (#26) in Stephen Jones’s redoubtable Best New Horror series, which has now been running for more than a quarter of a century, The 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories under the editorship of Mark Morris, and the twenty-fifth anniversary reissue of Best New Horror #3, from 1991. Looking down the table of contents of this last, I encountered many familiar, well-loved names—some sadly no longer with us, some very much still writing and contributing to the literature. I want to stress right from the off how important the Best New Horror series has been to me, both as a reader and as a writer. When I began developing a professional interest in horror fiction towards the end of the 1990s, BNH was where I first started to acquaint myself with the field: who was writing, what they were writing, how they related to one another. I would read each volume cover to cover when it first appeared, adding to my knowledge and developing my taste with each new outing.

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