Posts Tagged ‘horror’

I’m not (entirely) crazy

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

A while back, I was musing on the definitions of horror, and wondering if there wasn’t something missing from the standard definitions — namely that I had a sense that there was a def. of horror that basically included anything involving vampires, werewolves, et al. (as opposed to the standard definition of including works that seek to instill fear in the reader or viewer) — although I lacked any evidence other than my own impressions. Well, Locus magazine has come to my rescue, in the form of the Feb. 2008 issue’s recommended reading discussion. In it, editor-in-chief Charles N. Brown discusses the various categories they use for recommendations and such:

As with bookstores, we’ve been listing anything with vampires and werewolves as horror, and anything with witches and magic as fantasy.

So there exists at least one place where this definition has been used. But he says it as a prelude to a change in policy:

Chicklit witches and other supernatural creatures don’t really make it as fantasy, and romantic vampires and werewolves don’t make it as horror. They need their own category.

This pretty much backs up my impression of the broader sense of horror: it’s used as a convenience, because you have to call these books (i.e., the non-horrific horror books) something, and in the case of a bookstore, you absolutely have to put them somewhere. This also makes me wonder if my impression about this use of horror comes partly from my having worked for Locus once-upon-a-time, and having internalized their standards; it certainly has a basis in having shelved the genre books at a bookstore. Lexicographically speaking, of course, this is nowhere near enough evidence to support including this def. in a dictionary, but it does at least a) prove that I’m not crazy (at least in this one regard), and b) suggest that it’s worth pursing this question to see how common the usage is.