Please welcome Geoffrey Girard to The Qwillery. first communions, his first collection of short stories, was recently published by Apex Book Company.
Hazel-rah and the Contested Convention:
The Allegorical Advantage of Speculative Fiction
The power of speculative fiction has always rested in its unabashed exploitation of Allegory. While ALL fiction Is allegory, these special tales of dragons, ghosts and little green men proclaim brashly on page one: this shit is totally made up and YOU [the reader] can now discover/develop whatever connections to real life you want.
It’s an agreement between writers and readers that runs back past Fullmetal Alchemist, Pet Sematary, Watership Down, 1984, Frankenstien, Beowulf, etc. and another 200,000+ years to the various early storytellers asked to tell a whopper for those gathered around the campfire. Since, in the myriad configurations and flavors of horror, fantasy and sci-fi, there always lies the opportunity to take full advantage of allegory; to take on matters otherwise, too often, difficult, contentious, and/or complex.
Allegory is how Plato can describe reality (easy concept!) in three minutes in the form of a cave, or
how Christ can tackle God/Eternity (piece of cake!) using stand-ins like shepherds and harvests. Or, how Cory Doctorow’s concerns re: authority and liberty (ah, peshaw!) can be explored and articulated in creative ways a fifteen-year-old (or fifty-year-old) might question/engage our very real world.
To wit: “The Walking Dead ain’t about the zombies.” True, because they’re a ludicrous imaginary substitution for all the other stuff that’s really trying to get us, all the other challenges we really face as a society, as a person. As Star Trek is a ludicrous imaginary substitution for what we strive to be. From Gulliver to Buffy, these fanciful creations encourage/require each “reader” to recognize fiction for what it is – merely a representation of reality – in a more-honest way than “realistic” fiction ever dares. Providing/promoting a more powerful experience for the audience, as each one of us is consequentially called upon to make those necessary connections between the fictional world and our own in a way that’s more safe and more clear, while sidestepping the baggage of real-world bias, dogma, and decorum.
In first communions, my first collection – gathered from a decade of writing short speculative fiction – there are tales of horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy. There are ghosts and zombies and ringwraiths and serial killers and curanderas and demonic hockey-playing ten-year-olds… and even first loves. And the first sentence of every story pretty much assures the reader: This is totally made up. So, let’s now create together.
While suspension of disbelief will likely happen for the next ten minutes – in a magical dance of trust between author/reader – that suspension (trust) rests in the simple assurance all speculative fiction provides. That our world, ourselves, our sincerest hopes and fears, strengths and weaknesses, have been presented in a way we can all explore and experience – ironically – far more honestly, perhaps, than anything ever found in the world beyond the page.
Apex Book Company, April 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 210 pages
Geoffrey Girard first appeared in Writers of the Future and has since written and sold more than sixty short stories of dark fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Collected here, for the first time, are sixteen of his best, and darkest, tales.
The man who collects chips of bone from his willing victims
A legendary evil is adopted by a small, and thankful, village
The doomed girl invited to take part in a deliberate tragedy
A horrific church choir assembled after the zombie apocalypse
The boy who harvests spiders for a shadowy woman of magic
A fearsome town where the children’s nightmares are all real
The pain, price and beauty of blood and first loves
From the curse of ancient evils to futuristic retirement homes where the dead still rule, haunted graveyards, planets of torture where all are equal, hockey-playing demon hunters, dark sorcerers battling in Algeria, and even voodoo-cursed pirates. Explore the darkest, and most majestic, extremes of us all in sixteen unique tales that will entertain, horrify and keep you thinking long after the last page is turned.
Geoffrey Girard writes thrillers, young adult novels, and short speculative fiction. First appearing in WRITERS OF THE FUTURE in 2003, Geoffrey has since sold more than sixty short stories, including the TALES OF… series, a collection of original tales based on U.S. history and folklore. His novels include CAIN’S BLOOD, a techno thriller, and the Stoker-nominated PROJECT CAIN, a YA companion novel, both published by Simon & Schuster. Geoffrey graduated from Washington College with a literature degree and has an MA in creative writing from Miami University. He is the Department Chair of English at a private boys’ school in Cincinnati where he teaches literature, horror, and creative writing; and a frequent lecturer and workshop instructor at schools, universities and writers’ conferences. For more information, visit www.GeoffreyGirard.com