Weird Fiction Spotlight: Caitlín R. Kiernan

Weird Fiction is a difficult genre to describe, but you know it when you read it. Stories that get categorized as Weird Fiction often take place in a setting that is like our world, but is not our world. They feature characters that are like people we know, yet are different in ways both obvious and uncanny. These stories often feature elements of other genres, including horror, thriller, Lovecraftian terror, science fiction, and crime fiction, but the stories cannot be classified as being a part of any single one of those genres. The only real requirement for reading Weird Fiction is to be willing to suspend your disbelief and accept what is happening on the page. Thinking about it too much may not be wise. Or, maybe it is wise, and you should give these stories your thoughtful consideration? I don’t know—like I said, it’s weird.

One of my favorite authors in this genre is Caitlín R. Kiernan. A two-time winner of both the World Fantasy and Bram Stoker awards, their writing is characterized by bleak, atmospheric settings, jaded characters with lots of problems, and dialogue which deepens the reader’s sense of both of those elements, with just enough plot to keep it all together. Kiernan allows you, the reader, to fill the gaps in their stories, which may be more terrifying than anything they could have written. If you’re looking for something a little different, here are two series I recommend you begin with.

The Tinfoil Dossier

A trilogy of novellas featuring shadowy government organizations tasked with fighting Lovecraftian threats to society, a few severely overworked government agents, and several women with special gifts. I’ve written about the first novella of this series, Agents of Dreamland, and it remains one of my favorite reads of the past few years. The other two novellas are just as engrossing, combining spy thriller tropes with sci-fi and horror elements to make these stories seem unsettlingly realistic. Each novella presents events in a seemingly random order, and not just in terms of when events happen. Some chapters may not have happened, or will not happen, at all.  Sometimes they’re just visions of what could be. It’s only ever been a fight to buy time, after all, a matter of “when” rather than “if.”

Books in this series: Agents of Dreamland, Black Helicopters, The Tindalos Asset

The Dancy Flammarion Stories

The library has access to two short story collections about Dancy Flammarion, Kiernan’s most famous character. Dancy is a slight, albino teenager who, at the behest of her “Angel,” wanders the back roads of the Deep South killing monsters wherever she goes. There are monsters everywhere, and they know she’s coming, leaving death and destruction in her wake. The Angel, with its flaming sword and vengeful spirit, drives Dancy on, giving her direction and instruction about what she will face. Thanks to her Angel, Dancy knows to not look at the Gynander until it puts on someone else’s skin. She knows that the woman in the cage behind the rundown gas station is not what she appears. And Dancy knows that the Angel will not help her when she finds the monster it’s sent her to kill. She must only rely on herself and her butcher knife to see herself through the dark.

The Dancy Flammarion Story Collections: Alabaster, Comes a Pale Rider

You can place all of these books on hold through Heights Libraries.

Don’t forget: if you would like some personalized book recommendations from the Matchmakers, we can do that for you! Just complete our Match Me Up! form on our site, and one of the Matchmakers will get back to you with a selection of books for you to try. We look forward to hearing from you!

Trigger Warnings: Body Horror, Blood, Violence, Drug and Alcohol Use, Themes of Murder and Suicide, Tentacles, and Kudzu Leaves

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