What makes the Twice Upon an Apocalypse anthology so special?
Bracken MacLeod: I think what makes this anthology special is the care the writers have taken in blending familiar childhood tales with cosmic horror and the weird tale. Naturally, all fairy tales are well within the realm of the weird. A witch living in a house made of candy in a dense and secluded forest so she can lure lost children to her oven is clearly irrealism (realism in literature being a relatively recent development in the history of story-telling). But, I think what really makes it special is blending the absurdity of the fairy tale with the near-realism of the cosmic horror tale. I love the idea of the alien Cthulhu “mythos” being fused with the very terrestrial mythology of the traditional childhood weird.
Tell us more about your contribution.
MacLeod: My story, “The Most Incredible Thing,” is an adaptation of a lesser-known Hans Christian Anderson story about a King holding a competition to find an appropriate suitor for his daughter to marry. Naturally, the contest goes to a very dark place in Anderson’s story. It was actually very easy to update into a modern realist setting. Reality television shows and the aspirations of competitors for not only the financial awards of winning them, but also the social rewards of merely participating in the public eye, are a pervasive part of our cultural landscape. Anderson’s story was a perfect vehicle to be critical of the modern aspiration toward celebrity for its own sake. On the other side of it, my inspirations in cosmic horror owe more to Robert Bloch and Robert Chambers’ work than Lovecraft’s, so, my story is also a Yellow King tale.
Why should readers give this horror anthology a try?
MacLeod: As I mentioned above, I think this anthology offers a novel perspective in taking stories that are pretty firmly rooted in our collective (un)conscious and upending them by adding elements of greater cosmic horror that refresh them for a modern audience. This is especially important, considering the impact that pop culture’s bowdlerization of these stories has had on our recollections of them (how many people know exactly how dark The Little Mermaid really was?). I think it’s important to try to rediscover the darkness that used to live in them.