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C4P: Jason Gould - Rewriting Evil. An Alternative to Personification: Portrayal, Presence and Purpos

Luna's third Call for Papers, A Shadow Within: Evil in Fantasy and Science Fiction will be released on Wednesday the 14th of August, at Dublin Worldcon. Explore the 21 brilliant papers you will find in the book.

Today, we would like to introduce you to Jason Gould (UK). Writer of fiction and non-fiction, genre and non-genre. Graduate in Creative Writing at University of Hull. Shortlisted for British Fantasy Society Award.

Presenting the paper: Re-Writing Evil: An Alternative to Personification: Portrayal, Presence and Purpose in the Short Fiction of M. John Harrison.

Jason says:

"Evil in literature has often struggled with its identity. Early attempts to capture what is essentially an abstract concept triggered a preference for personification that persists to the present day. From John Milton’s Satan in his 1667 Paradise Lost through to Clive Barker’s Pinhead in the series of late twentieth century Hellraiser films, the embodiment of evil in a human or human-like vessel has proved to be the prevalent technique by which to enfold a slippery and subjective idea inside narrative structure. My paper observes how personification, as a narrative device, can be both gift and curse. It considers recognised examples of evil personified and questions why each succeeds in forging an emotional connection between text and reader, and yet, despite that success, appears to attract criticism for reliance on, what might be said to be, an aged, stale and arguably pedestrian device. If the personification of evil in literature is, indeed, overused, the paper goes on to ask if the writer M. John Harrison might have developed an alternative, specifically in short stories such as The Incalling, The Ice Monkey, and Egnaro. It examines how some of Harrison’s short fiction conveys not just a mood suggestive of evil but an inescapable sense of saturation, a world in which evil feels present but not in expected form.In the hands of M. John Harrison, evil in literature seems to be taken to an entirely new and different level …"

M. John Harrison is the author of several collections of short fiction, including The Ice Monkey, Travel Arrangements, and Things That Never Happen. From science fiction and fantasy, to space opera, magic realism and horror, Harrison’s award-winning work has been described as ‘between genres’, from where it has held readers spellbound since the 1960s. His most recent collection, You Should Come With Me Now, was published in 2017 by Comma Press, and longlisted for the 2018 Edge Hill Prize.

Jason Gould is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, a British Fantasy Society Award shortlistee, and a Creative Writing graduate. He first encountered the work of M. John Harrison through the novel Signs of Life and is in wholehearted agreement with Ramsey Campbell when he describes Harrison as “a master of enigma, whether human or supernatural”.

Follow the progress of A Shadow Within: Evil in Fantasy and Science Fiction on the "Books in Progress" page!


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