Post-Cosmic Horror

by Timothy J Jarvis

Brian Stableford concludes his exhaustive and riveting account of the development of cosmic horror, in the S.T. Joshi edited volume, Icons of Horror and the Supernatural, with a claim that the age of cosmic horror has now past, that humankind is no longer intimidated by gulfs of time and space, or by the idea it’s not master of its own fate. However, he argues, this doesn’t mean the end of the mode:

It is useful, now that we can no longer be horrified by mere matters of spatial and temporal magnitude, or by the consciousness that the cosmos was not constructed for our benefit, to be able to remember and appreciate what a privilege that freedom is. There is a definite imaginative utility in continuing to test its limits. An ability to remain unhorrified by the fact that the entire universe, outside the fragile envelope of the Earth’s biosphere, is extremely and unremittingly hostile to human existence ought to amplify, rather than diminish, the horror implicit in the fact that we are more than sufficiently hostile to one another, and to the human microcosm in its worldly entirety, not to need any cosmic assistance.