Fear. The word alone evokes a powerful response. And in Feel the Fear, editor Mark Leslie takes readers on a haunting tour of the many ways fear presents itself.
From genuine horror stories filled with frightening monsters to the real-life horror of losing a loved one to the terrifying idea of losing one's own mind, these tales run not only the genre gamut but also the emotional gamut.
With each fearful twist, the sixteen talented writers in this volume prove why Adventures Fantastic says "[Fiction River] is one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today."
Mark Leslie puts together the most interesting volumes of Fiction River. This volume reaches deep into Mark's specialty—fear, horror, and the supernatural. Each story has a visceral impact, and many of them provide that icy chill down the spine that I mentioned in my introduction. In this volume, you'll find the well known comic book writer (for DC and Marvel), Lee Allred, who wrote a dreaded gothic tale, Fiction River favorites Annie Reed and Dayle A. Dermatis, thriller writers J.F. Penn and Steven Mohan Jr., the crazy imagination of Robert T. Jeschonek, and so much more. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Introduction: We Have Nothing to Feel But Fear Itself
When I put out the call for stories for this volume, I was thinking about the Douglas E. Winter quote, that "horror is not a genre but an emotion."
To me, fear isn't just something that appears in a horror story, but a universal element pervasive through all genres, through all literature. Fear is, depending on which research you read, either one of four (University of Glasgow, 2014), one of six (Paul Ekman), or one of eight (Robert Plutchik's wheel) primary human emotions.
Oxford describes fear as "an unpleasant emotion caused by exposure to danger." Fear, of course, comes in many shapes, sizes and forms, including phobias (anxiety disorders defined by a persistent fear of an object or situation), fear of death (one's own death or the death of others), and fear of the unknown (also known as irrational fear).
H.P. Lovecraft said that "the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."
Fear of the unknown is certainly one that is continually explored throughout this volume. But it is merely one of the fears you will encounter on the following pages. The tales you are about to read explore the fear of death, of heights, of depths, of open spaces, of being trapped, of strangers, of loved ones, of the loss of loved ones, of rejection, of bugs, insects and spiders, of being alone, of corrupt authority, of pain, of loss of control, of unworldly evil, and of the mind itself.
They contain tales of succumbing to fear, of overcoming fear, of living with fear, of the denial of fear. And the stories run the gamut from classic gothic horror to adventure, to romance, to literary, to surreal, to science-fiction and to urban fantasy. The characters are humans, they are gods and demons, they are aliens, they are inanimate objects.
Gavin de Becker describes, in his book The Gift of Fear, the brilliant internal gift of intuition that is a built-in guardian for us that stands ready to warn us of hazards and guide us through risky situations, but that everyday people engage in clear defiance of this intuition and become victims of violence and accidents.
Some of the people you will read about push aside that internal guardian de Becker mentions to find themselves face to face with their worst fears. Others listen to their fear, acknowledge the fear, embrace the fear and allow it to guide them through to safety.
One important thing to acknowledge when considering how people face fear is something Mark Twain explained so brilliantly. He said that "courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."
The authors and stories you are about to read showed incredible courage. Each author explored either their own fears or fears they had been fascinated with and wished to explore through their narratives.
Because, in answer to my specific call, they didn't just write about fear.
They made me feel the fear.
And if you take my hand and join me onto the following pages, I'm certain that they'll make you feel it too.