I like a little bit of everything when it comes to fiction, but there’s a totally fake, non-existent genre that really gets under my skin, in a good way. I’ve never actually tried to come up with a name for it, but, what the hell, let’s just call it Inevitable Fiction.
What is Inevitable Fiction you ask? Well, it can be a lot of things actually. The idea, regardless of genre, is based upon a threat that cannot and will not be stopped. You find this in horror, sci-fi, speculative fiction, and even pure, straight-forward drama. These kinds of stories always stick with me far longer than your average genre fare does, and it all comes down to the fact that Inevitable Fiction scares the hell out of me.
Does any of this make sense yet? No. Alright class, let’s look at some examples.
One of my favorite short stories is Rawhead Rex by Clive Barker. It’s an interesting case to consider as part of the Inevitable Fiction genre. Short version goes something like this… a british farmer uncovers a massive stone hiding a giant, child eating monster that immediately sets out to the business of eating children and being a monster. Now, while he is eventually overcome at the end of the story, the way that Barker writes Rex is so damn terrifying that his downfall feels impossible. When he comes face to face with a delicious child, nothing will stop him from getting what he wants, not parental fear, not goodness, not cosmic justice.
In that story, the death of children feels inevitable. Like I said, terrifying.
Lovecraft was a master of Inevitable Fiction. Honestly, a huge chunk of his work would fall directly into the category. What he called Cosmic Horror almost always dealt with unfathomable threats, creatures so big and dangerous we never stood a chance.
Take a left turn out of horror (mostly), and you have Cormac MacCarthy’s The Road, a book so firmly entrenched in Inevitable Fiction that you can basically guess the ending on the first page. Dread just seeps through the pages, and you know there’s not much happiness to be found there. Anton Chigurh, the antagonist in another MacCarthy novel, No Country For Old Men, is almost the human embodiment of the inevitable. He won’t be stopped or reasoned with, and all you can do is hope for the end to come quickly.
I’ve been so fascinated by the idea of all things inevitable that I’ve dabbled in it myself. My novel Still Dark has a bit of that woven through it. You just know something bad is going to happen, and oh boy, does it ever. I can’t imagine that I won’t go back to that more in the future, probably in between something a bit lighter just to cleanse the palate.
So now you know more than you probably ever wanted to about my totally real, focus tested, not-at-all-pulled-out-of-my-ass genre. Keep an eye out for it in the future, and let me know if you see any more good examples.
ABOUT THE BOOK
When a thunderous explosion rocks an idyllic cabin resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, animals and humans alike begin to act strange. Jim, along with his wife Laura and son, Sam, are cut off from the outside world, but they soon realize the true nightmare is just beginning…
Deep in the snow-covered woods, something is waiting. The creature calls itself Apex, and it’s a traveler. Reading the minds of those around it, Apex brings the terrifying fears hidden in the human psyche to life with a singular purpose: to kill any that stand in its way.
Locked in a fight for their lives, Jim and his family must uncover the truth behind Apex, and stop the creature from wreaking a horrifying fate upon the rest of the world!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR — D.W. Gillespie has been writing dark fiction in one form or another since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He's been featured in multiple horror anthologies, both in print and online. Still Dark is his debut novel, and his second book, a short collection titled Handmade Monsters, arrives in 2017. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and two children.