“What Scares You Now?” was the name of a panel I was on at Bubonicon 46 on Saturday, August 2. On the panel with me were Craig T. Butler, Cherie Priest, Joan Saberhagen, and Scott Phillips. Craig performed an admirable job as the panel’s moderator.
As we introduced ourselves, the subject of centipedes came up and several of us told scary centipede stories. I told about the time a centipede emerged from the console of the 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, did a few laps around the console, then disappeared down through the same hole never to be seen again. Scott told about a centipede carrying off a roach motel, pleased with the box lunch it found.
Much of the panel focused on zombies and vampires. Cherie Priest made the interesting observation that these two creatures are opposite sides of the same coin. Being a vampire makes you powerful, desirable, and in control, while being a zombie makes you undesirable and strips you of your control. I added my observation that in a way Dracula is to Americans what Faust is to Germans. In Faust a man sells his soul for knowledge. Dracula sold his soul for eternal life and power.
Joan Saberhagen mentioned that very little fictional scared her, but she did note that having her senses deceived was very frightening. We then discussed the real world issue and terror that comes of people living long enough to face dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We also discussed the real world problems of plague and terrorists, and how horror monsters can serve as metaphors for discussing these issues.
Another thing we discussed was how zombies and vampires came into the popular consciousness from folktales. As such, folktales are a great source of inspiration for new terrors. For my own part, I turned to Apache legend to find a monster for my novel The Astronomer’s Crypt.
So, what scares you now? Are there any monsters in fiction that have particularly frightened you? Any good centipede stories you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.
Before I sign off, let me say congratulations to Kenneth S. who won an ebook copy of Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. Thanks to all who entered!