October 2, 2018

7.1: The Ballad of Black Tom pre-read: Race & the History of Horror Fiction

For October, Matt & Adrian are dipping their toes into the world of Horror, reading Victor LaValle's novella The Ballad of Black TomThe Ballad of Black Tom is a retelling of one of HP Lovecraft's most egregiously racist short stories, "The Horror at Red Hook", from the perspective of a black man living in Harlem who gets wrapped up in NYC's magical underworld. It won or was short listed for a number of top SF, Horror, and Fantasy awards due to its compelling characters, comfortable prose, and ratcheting tension.

In this episode, we discuss our own histories reading HP Lovecraft and other Weird/Horror authors, how our perceptions of racism in these stories changed over time, and get into the history of why Lovecraft in particular became so popular. 

Content warnings are due for the book & this episode. The book has some shocking racist police violence in it, and this episode we discuss Lovecraft's racism & xenophobia head-on, including reading some passages from "The Horror at Red Hook".

Resources for this episode are below. Links are available on our webpage (spectology.com) if they don't show up in your podcatcher.

- The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
- "The Horror at Red Hook" by HP Lovecraft (in the public domain)
The Weird, a short story collection by Ann & Jeff VandeerMeer
Searching for Zion by Emily Raboteau (LaValle's wife)
- How to Adapt Lovecraft in the 21st Century video essay by H. Bomberguy
- Pseudopod, a horror fiction podcast


We'd love to hear from you, either by chatting with us on twitter at @spectologypod, sending us an email at spectologypod@gmail.com, or submitting the episode to r/printSF on reddit. We'll reply, and shout you out in the next podcast when we talk about your comment.

And if you like the episode, subscribe at spectology.com or whever you listen to podcasts, and share it with your friends!

Many thanks to Dubby J and Noah Bradley for doing our music and art.

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