Saturday, I’ll be one of a host of intriguing writer guests reading and giving talks at an event near Atlanta called The Outer Dark Symposium of the Greater Weird. It’s an event created by Anya Martin and Scott Nicolay, the masterminds behind the Outer Dark podcast, now dwelling at the This Is Horror website.
There’s only one programming track, so I’ll get to be in the audience for the items I’m not participating in. (I’ve had an immensely busy week at my day job, so I still don’t know what I’ll be reading.) I’m quite excited about meeting a number of these folks, many of whom I only know by reputation or via social media.
Bonus: it’s my understanding that all the panels will be recorded for future use as podcasts.
BADGE PICK-UP & BREAKFAST
INTRODUCTION: Scott Nicolay
READING: Kristi DeMeester
PANEL: THE WEIRD NOVEL
Though there have always been great Weird novels such as Die Andere Seite, The House on the Borderland, The Haunting of Hill House, and Our Lady of Darkness, many still see The Weird as a creature of the short form. Does this perception stem from a fixation on the writers associated with Weird Tales magazine? Is this perception a mistake? The current decade has seen a major boom in novel-length Weird including Jeff VanderMeer’s bestselling Southern Reach trilogy, with more to come including novels by some symposium participants. Why now, and what are the challenges and benefits of sustaining the Weird across a longer narrative?
Moderator: Scott Nicolay
Panelists: Kristi DeMeester, John Foster, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Michael Wehunt
READING: Daniel Braum
READING: Valjeanne Jeffers
PANEL: Other Weird Tales: Unraveling Paradigms as the Protagonist Shifts Away from the Cis White Male
Weird fiction, like SF/F/H, has predominantly centered on CIS white male protagonists mostly written by CIS white male authors. One of the most dynamic aspects of the contemporary Weird Renaissance is that this is no longer true. Non-CIS-white-male writers are not only altering the concept of what the Weird is as a literary form but also pushing its boundaries and defying editorial and publishing expectations. How does the narrative shift when the protagonist is a woman, a person of color, LBGT and/or disabled? What are some examples of good contemporary, or older Weird tales with Other protagonists that exemplify these different qualities? What challenges have the authors on the panel personally faced in approaching the Weird from Other perspectives–cultural, gender, orientation, etc.? Finally, how are new writers, new perspectives and new audiences opening up the Weird and spec-lit in general to new markets, and conversely how are new markets (small press, self-publishing) facilitating exposure to different voices?
Moderator: Craig Laurance Gidney
Panelists: Mike Allen, Gerald L. Coleman, Valjeanne Jeffers, Damien Angelica Walters
READING: John Foster
READING: Edward Austin Hall
READING: Craig Laurance Gidney
READING: Grafton Tanner
PANEL: Not Another Bug Hunt: The Weird Monster as a Study of Singularity and in Différance
The monster in traditional horror tropes (vampire, werewolf, zombie) operates within predictable modes of behavior and rules by which they can be destroyed or contained. Not so, with the monster in Weird fiction. What form or lack of form does the Weird monster take? Is the Weird monster always even recognizable as a “monster” by conventional definition, or is it better described through the lens of object oriented ontology? Does a concept like evil have any relevance or what, if anything, motivates the Weird monster? How does the role of the protagonist change when confronted with Weird versus traditional monsters?
Moderator: Daniel Braum
Panelists: Orrin Grey, Edward Austin Hall, Anya Martin, Eric Schaller
READING: Balogun Ojetade
READING: Mike Allen
PANEL: The Dark Forward: The Weird and the Word as Resistance
What happens when reality itself gets Weird? That’s how many people are describing the day-to-day dissonance of Trump’s America. For those who define the Weird as cosmic horror, it’s hard not to see a parallel between an indifferent or hostile universe and a government bereft of empathy. The Weird Fiction Renaissance predates this election, but the panelists explore the notion that the Weird may be uniquely positioned to be the literature of our time, as well as the role of writing in a Fascist Dystopia.
Moderator: Balogun Ojetade
Panelists: Selena Chambers, Milton Davis, Scott Nicolay, Grafton Tanner
READING: Damien Angelica Walters
READING: Eric Schaller
CLOSING STATEMENT & SPONSOR THANK YOUS: Scott Nicolay, Anya Martin