the war of the worlds (1953)

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 to representing how close we are to a global catastrophe. It’s maintained by the members of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board.

The group of scientists, including 16 Nobel Laureates, announced this morning that we have moved dangerously close to all-out disaster. The Clock’s recent advance to two and a half minutes means that scientists and experts agree that we are teetering on the brink of societal collapse or an apocalyptic scale nuclear war, which symbolically occurs at midnight exactly.

In the years since the Clock was created we have only been this close to midnight once, in 1953 when the Hydrogen Bomb was first tested. Further, the minute hand has only changed nineteen times since the Clocks creation.

This is not an announcement to take lightly or brush off – these scientists are all renowned geniuses in their respective fields and they have never been known to change the Time casually or without very strong reasoning.

To those that are sick of politics and don’t see the point in discussing the current state of the world: THIS is the point. THIS is the result of widespread apathy, lack of education, and disinterest in current events.

Once upon a time Rome was a magnificent and powerful empire, but it still crumbled to the ground at the peak of its glory. As an Archaeology student I can tell you that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

The final sentence in the Doomsday report this morning gave a warning, “Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.”

IMPORTANT EVENTS AND THEIR DATES IN MODERN EUROPEAN HISTORY

1453  Constantinople is sacked by Muslim forces

1488  Bartolomeu Diaz rounds the Cape of Good Hope

1492  Columbus encounters the Americas (God, Glory and Gold.)

1517  Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses

1520  Diet of Worms declares Martin Luther an outlaw

1524-1525  The Peasants’ Revolt takes place in Germany

1534  Act of Supremacy passed in England → Henry VIII becomes head of the Anglican Church

1545  Council of Trent begins The Counter Reformation

1555  Peace of Augsburg (cuius regio, eius religio →whose region, his religion)

1585-1589  War of the Three Henries in France

1588  Spanish Armada destroyed by the English and “The Protestant Wind”

1603  Elizabeth I Dies → Tudor Dynasty Ends and the Stuart Dynasty Begins

1618-1648  The Thirty Years War (Treaty of Westphalia ends the war in 1648)

1642-1646  English Civil War (Roundheads vs. the Cavaliers)

1649  Charles I is executed → Oliver Cromwell begins his rule

1660  Stuart Restoration in England through Charles II

1688-1689  Glorious Revolution in England→ William and Mary of Orange replace James II and sign the English Bill of Rights

1643-1715  Era of Louis XIV  The Sun King (l’etat c’est moi)

1689-1725  Reign of Peter the Great in Russia

1756-1763  The Seven Years War

1789-1799  Era of the French Revolution (Radical Stage → late 1792-1795)

1799  Napoleon comes to power

1805-1815  Napoleonic Wars are waged

1814-1815  The Congress of Vienna meets (Main principles: Legitimacy, Conservatism, Compensation & Balance of Power)

1819  Peterloo Massacre in England

1830  Belgian Independence

1832  Reform Bill in England Passed

1848  Revolutions break out across Western Europe (France, Austria, Italy and Germany)

1861  Serfs emancipated in Russia under Alexander II

1870-1871  Germany and Italy Unification

1884-1885  Berlin Conference is held (“Scramble for Africa”)

1894  Tsar Nicholas II comes to power in Russia (the last of the Romanovs)

1905  Sunday Bloody Revolution in Russia → “The Dress Rehearsal”

1914  Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated → WWI starts

1917  March and November (Bolshevik) Revolutions in Russia

1918  Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is signed →Russia withdraws from war

1918  WWI ends

1919  Treaty of Versailles is signed

1918-1921  Russian Civil War (Reds vs. Whites)

1922  Mussolini comes to power in Italy and establishes the 1st Fascist government

1922  Russia officially becomes known as the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) → The Soviet Union

1923  Adolf Hitler leads the Beer Hall Putsch in Germany

1924  Lenin dies

1928  Stalin is firmly entrenched as the leader of the Soviet Union → begins the first of several 5 year plans

1929  Stock Market Crash in the US → The Great Depression begins

1933  Hitler comes to power in Germany

1938  Munich Conference (Peace in our time→Neville Chamberlain)

1939  World War II starts with Germany’s invasion of Poland

1945  World War II ends (V-E Day → May 8, 1945 and V-J Day → August 15, 1945)

1945  First session of the United Nations is held

1945-1989  Cold War (U.S. vs. S.U. begins and begins to end in Poland)

POST WW II  Decolonization → European colonies become independent

1946  Winston Churchill gives the “Iron Curtain” speech

1948-1949 Operation Vittles→the Berlin Airlift

1949  USSR successfully tests first atomic bomb

1951  European Coal and Steel Community formed (sounds like the Zollverein)

1953  Stalin dies and is succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev → destalinization begins

1954  French forces defeated in French-Indochina at Dien Bien Phu

1956  Hungarian revolt against the Soviet Union → it is crushed by the Soviets

1957  Rome Treaty is signed → The European Economic Community (EEC) is created = Common Market

1957  Sputnik is launched by the Soviet Union → the first space satellite

1958  The fifth Republic is born in France and Charles de Gaulle becomes President

1961  Berlin Wall built → dividing East and West Berlin

1961  Soviet Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space

1962  Cuban Missile Crisis → 90 miles off the coast of Florida

1963  Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique is published

1964  Leonid Brezhnev becomes leader of the Soviet Union

1966  Under President Charles de Gaulle, France withdraws from the common NATO military command

1968  “Prague Spring” occurs in Czechoslovakia → it is crushed by the Soviets

1968  Student revolt in France (Paris)

1978  Pole Karol Wojtyla elected Pope → Pope John Paul II → 1st non-Italian in 455 years

1979  Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female Prime Minister of England (“The Iron Lady”) (Mags loathes no one more than this heinous twat)

1979  The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan (eventually becomes their own “little Vietnam”)

1980  1st independent labor union in the Soviet Bloc formed  “Solidarity” led by Lech Walesa of Poland

1980  Ronald Reagan elected President of the US (calls the Soviet Union an “evil empire”)

1985  Gorbachev becomes Soviet leader (implements policies of perestroika and glasnost)

1986  Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident in the Soviet Union (specifically the Ukraine)

1989  Berlin Wall comes down

1989  The “Velvet Revolution” occurs in Czechoslovakia → Vaclav Havel becomes President

1989  The Soviet Union withdraws its forces from Afghanistan

1989  Romanian leader Nicolai Ceausescu is overthrown and killed

1990  Lech Walesa becomes President of Poland

1990  East Germany and West Germany reunify into one Germany

1990  The first McDonalds opens in Russia

1991  Attempted coup attempt in the Soviet Union → The Soviet Union begins to disintegrate

1991  Boris Yeltsin becomes President of Russia → former 15 republics of the Soviet Union form the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.)

1991  Yugoslavia begins to break apart

1992  Maastricht Treaty signed

1997  Tony Blair becomes Prime Minister of England → 1st Labor Party leader in 18 years

1999  Eurodollar becomes the single currency of the European Union (EU)

Michael B. Jordan, Michael Shannon Set to Star in HBO’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’

HBO has cast Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon in its film adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451,” TheWrap has learned.

The classic 1953 book by Ray Bradbury tells of a world where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found. In this future America, people have adapted to a faster lifestyle, tuning into TV to dull any pain. The story follows a fireman named Montag, who meets a teenage girl and decides to see what he’s been missing in books. He then goes to war with his mentor, who knows what he’s up to, and struggles to regain his humanity.

Jordan will star as Montag and Shannon will star as his mentor Captain Beatty.

Shannon will be reuniting with “Fahrenheit 451” co-writers Ramin Bahrani and Amir Naderi, who he worked with on the feature “99 Homes.” Shannon was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance.

Bahrani is set to also direct and executive produce. Sarah Green of Brace Cover Productions, Michael B. Jordan, Alan Gasmer, and Peter Jaysen are also set to executive produce.

The film was announced almost exactly a year ago in April 2016, with Bahrani set to direct.

HBO said the film is currently in development and hasn’t provided a tentative release date.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Fahrenheit 451’ Movie in the Works at HBO From '99 Homes’ Director

Ray Bradbury, Author of 'Martian Chronicles,’ 'Fahrenheit 451,’ Dies at 91

Top 20 Best HBO Original Series, From 'Six Feet Under’ to 'Game of Thrones’ (Photos)

randomampersand  asked:

What do you think is the best depiction of the Martian tripods?

Truthfully, I’ve yet to actually see a film version that used the Martian fighting machines’ really terrifying attributes. To me, the really definitive film version of War of the Worlds hasn’t been made yet (the period setting is non-negotiable). The scariest trait of the Martian fighting machines was that they were designed to fight a kind of war based on total extermination, which is something we’re not used to; imagine if a tank were redesigned to kill as many civilians as possible.

For example, George Pal brought their disintegrating heat ray to screen, but not the more viscerally horrifying weapon, the black poison gas they fired from the underside that were used to kill civilians in huge quantities. A few versions had the pseudomuscular tentacles, which were used to kill, crush, tear trees out, and rip humans in half, and are just an eerie, alien image unlike any earthly technology.

The creepiest part of the War of the Worlds, which seldom makes it to film adaptations, was the fact that, at times, it was not just conquest but also an ecological attack, like a red seaweed that eerily glows in the dark that started to grow over the entire countryside and choked the Thames River.

The Martian fighting machines get all the attention, but they were not the only war craft that the Martians brought to Earth in the War of the Worlds. One was a metallic segmented wormlike drilling robot used to dig in the earth, and another was a crablike lifter used to capture and store humans. The Martians did have a heavier than air flying vehicle, but it seems they were mostly used the same way that airplanes were used at the beginning of World War I, for reconnaissance instead of as attack craft.

The Martian flying ships were the closest the book had to having the coppery manta ray craft from George Pal’s War of the Worlds. I can’t fault George Pal for not using the tripod fighting machine in his movie, because in 1897, the potential of flight in war was barely understood. By 1953, we had a better picture of how effectively it could be used, so why not make them flying craft? One of the funniest parts of the War of the Worlds is that it was easier to imagine the existence of Martians than it was to imagine heavier than air travel. That was a little too farfetched to put front and center!

2

Atomic Annie — The M65 Atomic Cannon,

Designed in 1949 by the American Engineer Robert Schwarz, the M65 “Atomic Annie” was inspired by German railway guns used during World War II.  The M65 however, was designed to deliver a nuclear payload to its target.  The gun and carriage itself weighed around 85 tons, was manned by a crew of 5-7, and was transported by two specially designed towing tractors.  At 280mm in caliber and capable of firing a projectile over 20 miles, the gun was certainly powerful enough as a conventional weapon, but the Atomic Annie was certainly no conventional weapon.  In 1953 it was tested for the first time at the Nevada Test Site, where it fired a 15 kiloton nuclear warhead, creating a blast similar in size to the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  

After the successful test, 20 M65 cannons were produced for the US Army and deployed in Europe and Korea.  They were almost always in constant motion so the Soviets never knew where they were and could not target them.  While an interesting weapon, the Atomic Annie suffered from limited range, especially after the development of ballistic missiles which could strike a target from thousands of miles away.  The last M65 Atomic Cannon was retired in 1963.  Today only 8 survive, and are displayed in museums across the country.

6

The confusing and convoluted continuity of “War of the Worlds”.

1953: Earth is invaded by “Martians” who succumb to Earth bacteria.

1988: The “dead” bodies of the stored “Martians” that never decomposed and are theorized to have instead gone into anabiosis (suspended animation) revive due to exposure to radiation that kills the incapacitating bacteria. These aliens are anatomically different from their appearance in 1953, having a trilobed eye rather than the large tricolored lens-like eye seen in the aliens 25 years earlier.
The revived aliens are later identified as “Mor-Taxans,” perhaps having used Mars as a staging ground for an invasion that was launch from Mor-Tax.
The Mor-Taxans merge with human hosts, taking control of their bodies, but are still vulnerable to Earth’s microbes. As a result, the aliens keep themselves exposed to radioactive material which creates visible radiation burns on their human host bodies.
The leaders of the Mor-Taxans, three aliens known collectively as “The Advocacy,” revert to their original form and wear environmental suits to protect themselves from Earth bacteria.

Almost Tomorrow: This appears to be sometime in the early 1990s in a post-apocalyptic world. A second wave of aliens, anatomically similar to the Mor-Taxans, arrive from a world they call Morthrai. It is less than clear if Morthrai is a different planet from Mor-Tax or another name for Mor-Tax.
The newly arrived aliens seem technologically more advanced than the Mor-Taxans, having organic technology that allows them to bioengineer themselves to have the appearance of humans as well as complete resistance to Earth bacteria, eliminating both the need for radiation exposure and the associated tissue damage.
The Morthren summarily execute the Mor-Taxans for failing to conquer Earth.

Fun Fact 161

Even though the two Korea’s signed an armistice agreement in 1953 to cease hostilities between the two countries, they have never signed a peace treaty and so are technically still at war.

5

CLOSE-UPS OF RUSSIA BY COLLEGE EDITORS

THREE young Americans flew home last week from a rare trip to Russia. Hearing about the Moscow visit of US small-town newspapermen (TIME, April 13), College Editors Daniel Berger, 21 (Oberlin), Mark Emond, 25 (University of Colorado), and Zander Hollander, 22 (University of Michigan), applied for visas, were promptly accepted. Paying their own way, they got a two-week, $19-a-day Intourist tour, moved freely around Moscow, Kiev, Leningrad, were allowed to snap pictures of everything except factories. military installations and national shrines. They found only one trace of recently purged Politburocrat Lavrenty Beria, a mosaic portrait on the ceiling of Moscow’s ornate subway. Other impressions: TV screens are tiny but programs excellent, youth papers have luxurious offices but sound “as if written by the Dean,” students are friendly but primed to criticize the U.S., girls are “sweet, naive and not sexy,“ children–often seen with nurses in parks–are well cared for. Said Editor Berger: “The best-dressed Russians are under ten years old.”

– TIME, 19 October 1953, 34-35

Lying about Vietnam: it was now a Washington way of life.  The lies started with the war’s ontological premise.  We were supposed to be defending a ‘country’ called “South Vietnam.’  But South Vietnam was not quite a country at all.  Vietnamese independence fighters had begun battling the French since practically the day they stopped fighting side by side in World War II.  In 1954 they fought their colonial overlords to a final defeat at the stronghold of Dien Bien Phu.  It was the first military loss for a European colonial power in three hundred years.  Though these stalwarts, the Vietminh, now controlled four-fifths of the country’s territory, at the peace conference in Geneva they made a concession: they agreed to administer an armistice area half that size, demarcated at the seventeenth parallel (but for some last-minute haggling, it would have been the eighteenth).  A government loyal to the French would administer the lands to the south.  The ad hoc demarcation was to last twenty-four months, at which time the winner of an internationally supervised election in 1956 would run the entire country.
Instead, the division lasted for nineteen years.  The reason was the United Sates, which saw to it the reunification election never took place.  American intelligence knew that Ho Chi Minh, the Communist leader of the independence fighters, would have won 80 percent of the vote.  The seventeenth parallel was read backward as an ordinary international boundary.  If 'North Vietnam’ crossed it, they’d be guilty of 'aggression.’  Meanwhile, the CIA launched a propaganda campaign to depopulate North Vietnam, whose sizable Catholic population was shipped to 'South Vietnam’ via the U.S. Seventh Fleet.  There, they found themselves part of a citizenry that had no reason for being in history, culture, or geography; even as the U.S. pretended- then came to believe- they were a brave, independence-loving nation of long standing.  Actually the great city in the South, Saigon, had been France’s imperial headquarters.  There, France had crowned a figurehead emperor at the tender age of twelve.  During World War II, Emperor Bao Dai had collaborated with Vichy France and the Japanese.  This was the man the South Vietnamese were supposed to venerate as the leader of their independent nation.
He was replaced by someone worse: a wily hustler named Ngo Dinh Diem.  In 1952, Diem engineered a presidential election between himself and the emperor, with the help of U.S. government advisers, and 'won’ 98.2 percent of the vote.  He then revived the guillotine as punishment for anyone 'infringing upon the security of the state.’  His favorite rebuff to an insult from a political opponent was 'Shoot him dead!’  His sister-in-law Madame Nhu, who served as his emissary abroad, told Americans the last thing her family was interested in was 'your crazy freedoms.’  This was the government to which the United States would now ask its citizens to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.  Diem was not a Communist.  And that, said America, made him a democrat.
Ho Chi Minh had no special beef with the United States.  He liked to quote the Declaration of Independence; on the march to Hanoi during World War II, his forces called themselves the Viet-American Army; after the war, Ho sent telegrams to President Truman offering an independent Vietnam as 'a fertile field for American capital and enterprise.’  (Truman never answered.)  The French reconquered Vietnam with what was practically an American mercenary force: 78 percent of the French army’s funding came from the United States.  More hawkish Americans lobbied for direct intervention; Richard Nixon, after his visit in 1953, advised Eisenhower that two or three atomic bombs would do the trick.  Ho Chi Minh’s supporters in South Vietnam began their guerrilla war in 1960.  It led to a kind of Cold War nervous breakdown.  Falter in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson claimed in 1964, and 'they may just chase you into your own kitchen.
—  Rick Perlstein, Nixonland, pgs 100-101

Monthly Reads | April 2017

❤ THANK YOU TO ALL WRITERS FOR YOUR HARD WORK AND FOR SHARING YOUR STORIES! ❤
Special mention⭐ & Top 5 + 10 more stories under the cut:


1000 Feelings For Which There Are No Names Prompt Challenge

This is a prompt challenge @suddenclarityharry had the inspiration for after reading some of the feelings described in the book 1000 Feelings For Which There Are No Names. Participants pick a random number between 1 and 1000 and have to use the feeling described to write a short fic in a week’s time!
Authors: a-writerwrites, letsjustsee, becomeawendybird, londonfoginacup, icanhazzalou, allwaswell16, phd-mama, flamboyantommo, jaerie, iflovewereall, all-these-larrythings
Week One  | Week Two | Week Three - posted tomorrow!


The Afterlife Fic (The Best I Ever Had in My Entire Life… Or Death)
 

by LovingCup | Afterlife | 490k

AU- After dying in an accident, Louis Tomlinson arrives in the Afterlife. Not Heaven and not Hell, Louis finds himself in Judgment City UK: a pristine city where the food and entertainment are divine and the newly departed must undergo a Review of their life on Earth to determine if they have lived a life worthy of advancement in the universe, or if they must be returned to Earth to be born again in a new body. On his first full day in the Afterlife, Louis meets Harry Styles, and the two have an instant connection. Over the course of their Reviews, they fall in love and begin to find that even though they didn’t know each other on Earth, they are nonetheless linked to one another in perfect ways. Both are hoping to move ahead in the universe together, but they are challenged with the threat of separation if one or both of them is sent back to Earth to be born again.

It Comes and Goes in Waves/It Always Does

by roaroftheninth | World War II | post war | 50k

“He says that he’s grateful for that ending, because he always wanted to imagine it like that and you were always a better storyteller than he was. But that’s not the ending that should be published, because it’s not the truth.”

Summary: It is 1953; Louis makes that nine years since they won the war (eight if you count the Americans, which he never does). His first novel, a best-seller set during wartime, is due for a sequel - but Louis doesn’t want to face the ending.

Run away home

by hattalove for 1D Big Bang: Round Four | friends to lovers | horse racing | slow burn | injury recovery| 106k

Louis stands, in the middle of a clearing with his hands in his pockets, and stares. This boy—God, this gorgeous, gorgeous boy. He seems so clumsy, confused at the best of times, but there’s a wisdom about him as he speaks, a maturity that belies his age.
Louis is hopelessly, wildly attracted to him.


or, louis is a successful jockey down on his luck, struggling to get his life back on track after an injury. harry has a horse, a house fit for a prince, and a broken heart.
it takes them a while to figure out that they need each other.

Wholehearted

by TheMagicWord | famous/non famous | Coming Out | implied/referenced homophobia | 77k

AU. When superstar singer and winner of The Voice Louis Tomlinson tweets “Nothing worse than waking up with no milk for a cuppa !! Gutted” he doesn’t expect someone to bring him some. And he really doesn’t expect that someone to have bright green eyes, long curly hair, and (fucking) dimples.

Safe And Sound (You’ll Always Be)

by Rearviewdreamer | Famous/Non Famous | Bodyguard!Harry | 58k

When a failed case and a guilty conscience leaves Harry more than a little lost, his boss presents him with a new, less taxing assignment to help him cope. An escape from all the madness is just what Harry needs to get his life back on track. It’s just too bad his new client has a grin like the devil, a pair of electric eyes that Harry simply can’t get over, and no intention whatsoever of letting him catch a break.

Keep reading

ICHF Key Concepts: The Four Horrors

I’ve been writing Iconic Characters of Horror Fiction articles for over a year to a modest amount of success, and in that time I’ve covered a lot of strange territory - both in the number of different characters I’ve written about, and in the number of weird personal theories about them and the horror genre in general that I’ve shared in the process.  While I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I want to do with this series, I have come to the point where I feel some of those weird theories need their own article.  So allow me to present to you the first ICHF Key Concept article!  And what better to start off with than my moderately popular genre taxonomy: the Four Horrors.

When it comes to Academic literary criticism, the horror genre is mostly uncharted territory.  I was fortunate to have a college that offered two courses on horror literature - I mean, they both focused almost exclusively on British horror literature that was published before the 20th century, but y'know, baby steps and progress and all that.  One of the things I was surprised to learn in those courses was that, as far as literary critics are concerned, there is no distinction between Gothic Horror and Horror in general - all horror is gothic, apparently.  As an amateur scholar of horror stories, I felt that was INCREDIBLY wrong, and so I began working on a more accurate description of the horror genre - one that allows for more diversity.  One that recognizes multiple modes of horror.  A taxonomy, if you will.

I ultimately settled on dividing Horror into four main subgenres, each of which can be divided into even more subgenres on top of that.  Let’s find out more about them, shall we?

Gothic Horror

We’ll start with the only officially recognized horror genre, the Gothic.  Part of the reason I protest it as the ONLY form of horror is that, according to literary critics, it’s a very narrowly defined genre - one that cannot contain all the horror stories we’ve come up with in our history.

Gothic Horror demonizes the old, primitive, and ancient parts of our history.  The horror in a Gothic story comes from the past - a crime committed in the olden days, or an ancient evil that has survived despite the passing of time.  In Gothic horror stories, evil is something that humanity has to grow out of - it its destroyed by progress and discovery.

Monsters in Gothic Horror stories tend to be either undead creatures (like ghosts, zombies, vampires, etc.), mythological monsters (dragons, sphinxes, etc.), or humans that are turned into a more “primitive” creature (Mr. Hyde, Werewolves, etc.).  Decay and degeneration are the main tools of Gothic Horror - the audiences is presented with vivid images of rotting bodies, both literal and metaphorical.  Evil is defeated in Gothic horror stories by uncovering the truth and civilizing the old world - society must progress to keep the dead wickedness of the past buried.

Some of the subgenres of Gothic Horror include Ghost Stories (where the spirit of a deceased person must be put to rest by discovering the horror that killed them in the past), Vampire Fiction (stories with vampires in them), and the Imperial Gothic.  The later is particularly interesting to me and relevant to my Four Horrors concept, as the Imperial Gothic is sort of the bridge between Gothic Horror and the other three horror genres.  You see, while the Imperial Gothic still claims that horror is rooted in the past, it adds on the idea that said horror is being brought back to the present BECAUSE our “progress” in the present is, in fact, a barbaric retread of our ancestors’ mistakes.  It claims that modern man is backsliding, and the old defeated horrors of yesteryear will roam free as a result.  Other horror stories will take the genre even further from there.

Detective Fiction also has its roots in Gothic Horror stories, but whether it still counts as a horror genre or evolved into its own animal altogether is debatable.  I personally wouldn’t count most detective tales as horror stories, but it’s interesting to note their connection.

Examples of Gothic Horror Stories: The Castle of Otranto, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

Cosmic Horror

Cosmic Horror was the first horror genre to split off from the Gothic entirely (in this little concept of mine, which is not law).  In many ways, it seems similar to its parent.  Heroes in Cosmic Horror stories often try to uncover the truth behind a supernatural mystery, and it often involves exploring some horrifying and primitive relics of the past.  However, while uncovering the truth solves things in a Gothic horror tale, it only makes things worse in a Cosmic Horror story.

Cosmic Horror does not demonize the past.  Instead, it demonizes existence itself.  The universe is a cold, uncaring place that is beyond human comprehension, and as such it is also beyond caring for humanity.  Evil is rooted in the very fabric of reality, and built into the utter apathy and indifference our world has for us.  Madness, confusion, and miscomprehension are the main tools of these stories - our ability to see the world around us and not understand the meaning of it keeps the reader ill at ease, especially when that world grows increasingly awful and terrifying.

The main monster of a Cosmic Horror story is the… *sigh* eldritch abomination, whose good name as an archetype has been sullied by people applying it to any and all monsters.  At one point, though, eldritch abomination was a phrase that meant something - specifically, a “monster” whose anatomy and nature cannot truly be comprehended by human minds, one who is almost thoughtlessly destructive simply because we are utterly insignificant to it.

We’re probably going to need a new word for that archetype soon, since people seem to love calling any and all monsters that are even remotely strange “eldritch abominations” these days.

Cosmic horror stories rarely offer their heroes a way out - if one does manage to defeat the evil, it is always temporary, and the hero is generally scarred beyond repair by the experience if they survive at all.  One is only safe from the horror if one is ignorant of it - and even then, “safe” only lasts as long as the horror remains ignorant of us as well.

Examples of Cosmic Horror Stories: The Cthulhu Mythos stories, most Slender Man stories, Burrgrr, Awful Hospital, Hellstar Remina, Uzumaki, The Thing

Atomic Horror

When the Imperial Gothic Horror genre suggested that our progress may be unleashing the horrors of the past, it laid the seeds for the third main horror genre to blossom.  Atomic Horror takes things a step further by suggesting our progress will make its own evils - evils the likes of which humanity could never have experienced in the past, for they could only be made by unleashing the newfound powers of modern technology.

In other words, evil is rooted in the present/future in an Atomic Horror story, rather than in the past like in a Gothic tale.  Many Atomic Horror stories try to temper this aspect of their genre by emphasizing that progress is only bad when it is unchecked and uncontrolled - while scientists may make a monster, they can also be the ones to find a way to stop it.  The progress in question doesn’t have to be scientific, either - industrial development schemes or military campaigns are just as likely to create a monster in Atomic Horror as a mad scientist’s experiments.

There are (at least) four main monster archetypes in Atomic Horror stories: the Prehistoric Monster (creatures from the past that are taken out of their rightful time and place by humanity - an archetype that Atomic Horror took from Gothic Horror stories and made its own), the Mutant (a creature that is made by humanity meddling with nature), the Robot (a machine that can operate without human assistance, often with deadly purposes), and the Alien (a creature from another world - often acting as a dark mirror of humanity, showing us how awful we could end up if we don’t change our ways).  Mutation and dissection are the main tools of Atomic Horror stories - we are horrified to find that our “progress” requires us to destroy the current world to build an awful new one in its place.

To stop evil in an Atomic Horror story, one has to change the way humanity is progressing - either stopping the progress itself, changing its direction, or simply reining it in a bit.  We have to rethink what we are doing and consider the effects we have on the world we run - or else the end will always have a question mark.

Two of the subgenres within Atomic Horror include the Alien Invasion Genre, where monsters from outer space invade earth with superior technology, and the Kaiju Genre, where humanity is attacked by a literally gargantuan monster because of our violation of the natural order.  Kaiju stories sometimes leave the horror genre altogether, but I personally think most still stay within its boundaries.

Examples of Atomic Horror Stories: Godzilla, Them!, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The War of the Worlds (1953 film), The Blob, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Fly


Slasher Horror

Finally, we have Slasher Horror.  Born out of the exploitation films of the 70’s an 80’s, Slasher Horror doesn’t focus on the past or the future very much.  While it shares an existential dread with Cosmic Horror, it looks inward for evil rather than outward.  It’s not the universe that is evil, necessarily, but rather humanity itself.  Something in the human condition is sick, twisted, and, with rare exception, predisposed to wickedness.  Slasher Horror holds one thing as true: humanity needs to be punished, and oh how cathartic it is to watch that punishment unfold.

Slasher horror demonizes humanity itself, and it does so by presenting a cast of almost completely unlikeable and one dimensional characters.  Humans aren’t necessarily moustache-twirlingly evil in Slasher stories, but they are selfish to a ludicrous extent.  They ignore drowning children, have sex even as their friends are being slaughtered in the next room, and rarely trade words with each other that aren’t petty insults.  When a character is introduced in a Slasher story, they are almost certainly designed to make you desire their death.

However, there is generally an attempt at making an exception to this rule in most Slasher stories.  You will normally find at least one character who is unique in that they care about other people and, y'know, aren’t shitty human beings.  This is your hero, and they have the enviable task of stepping over a very low bar to become the least wretched person in your story.

“Monsters” are rare in slasher stories, as most tend to go for an anonymous killer instead - some ominous masked man who picks off the other awful people one by one, often in increasingly preposterous ways.  When one of these killers survives long enough, they may gain an identity - and since this tends to involve surviving several definitely lethal injuries, they often become undead monsters as well.

The main tool of the slasher movie is gore.  Splattering organs, buckets of blood, and impossible wounds are the gross out of choice, and often play less like horrifying scenes and more like money shots in a porno.  Slasher Horror is all about catharsis - while other stories may want to horrify you, Slasher tales let you indulge your darker desires for a time.

Evil is defeated in a slasher movie when the hero loses almost everything and, in desperation, finally snaps and raises a hand against the awful nature of humanity - in a literal fashion, i.e. by killing the slasher.  This violent act may also be why few heroes in Slasher stories survive coming back for a sequel - by killing the slasher, they have become another wicked person who selfishly put their own life above others.

Examples of Slasher Horror Stories: The Halloween series, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, Friday the 13th series, the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Saw series, Behind the Mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon, the Scream series

The Axis of the Four Horrors

skeletonphonic was the first to make an axis out of my four horror genres, so credits go to him for the idea for this visual.

If you look at my four horror genres, you can see that there are two pairs of apparent opposites.  Gothic Horror vilifies the past, while Atomic Horror villifies the future.  Cosmic Horror claims the universe is evil, while Slasher Horror claims evil is inherent to humanity itself.  We could use this axis to try and force existing horror stories into one of these four genres - for example, the more a story vilifies humanity, the more Slasher it is.  Simple, right?

Well… no.  See, these pairs aren’t actually opposites.  A story can vilify the past AND the present - hell, that’s basically what the Imperial Gothic does.  Likewise, humanity being evil doesn’t necessarily mean that the universe itself isn’t evil too.  A horror story could hit all four points on the axis.

If one were to graph horror stories on this axis, I think it would be smart not to do it with a simple point.  Instead, show how far a given story stretches in each direction - some may lie firmly in one direction, while others may stretch into two, or three, or even all four.  It could be an interesting experiment for more mathematically included horror scholars than myself to try.

Problems with the Four Horrors

While I obviously like this little division of the horror genres, and have found it very useful in my writing about Horror in general, I can’t say it’s flawless.  It’s mostly based on Western literature, specifically English language literature, and as such there are A LOT of horror stories out there that could theoretically not fit anywhere on this axis.  That’s a major problem that I can’t address entirely on my own - even a glutton like myself could never read every horror story ever made, or even MOST of the horror stories ever made.

Academics might also argue that my division is forced.  A lot of Slasher and Cosmic Horror stories have an evil of the past as part of their story - the murder of Jason Voorhees, the ancient cult of Cthulhu, etc.  We could force them into the Gothic, and then kick Atomic Horror stories out of the Horror genre and into Science Fiction (which a lot of critics do).  I think that’s too simplistic, but y'know, I’m not God.  I’m just a weirdo who thinks too much about horror stories.

There are other taxonomies as well.  Some have divided horror into Supernatural and Radcliffian tales - Supernatural Horror has a horror that is, obviously, supernatural, while Radcliffian Horror reveals that the horror was man-made all along (think Scooby Doo).  Others have divided Horror into Thrillers and Creature Features - Thrillers involve a mundane, realistic threat, while Creature Features have monsters in them.  Or we could divide horror between its two sibling genres, Sci-Fi and Fantasy - Sci-Fi Horror, Fantasy Horror, and Mundane Horror for those tales that don’t have a supernatural element.  There are probably a billion ways we can divide the genre.

But the Four Horrors work for me, and they’ve helped form ICHF into what it is.  They won’t be leaving this blog any time soon.

(For those interested in the little mascots I made for this essay, here are their names: Count Gothic, Cthon Cosmic, Doctor Atomic, and Sam Slasher.)