Eutopia: horror novel about Lovecraftian racism
David Nickle's horror novel Eutopia confronts the racial overtones of Lovecraftian fiction head on, revealing a terrifying story of the American eugenics movement and the brutality underbelly of utopianism.
You may recall David Nickle's essay about the inseparable nature of HP Lovecraft's support for eugenics and his horror. It made an excellent intellectual argument, but that's nothing to the emotional punch of the novel inspired by the subject, 2011's Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism.
Doctor Andrew Waggoner -- a Paris-educated Black American doctor -- is hospitalized by Klansman in the utopian settlement of Eliada, Idaho, where he soon encounters Jason Thistledown, the sole survivor of a plague that wiped out the town of Cracked Wheel, Montana. The two of them become unlikely allies in uncovering the mystery of "Mr Juke," a strange creature housed in the hospital's enormous quarantine.
Mr Juke is a monster, of an ancient race of parasites whose offspring incubate in the wombs of human women, and who are able to inspire religious ecstasy in the people who serve them. Mr Juke and his kind might have lived undiscovered in the back country, in grotesque symbiosis with the hill people, if not for Eliada's eugenics project, through which hill people are systematically catalogued and sterilized "to improve the race."
The biology of the monsters is handled beautifully, and may call to mind the books of Peter Watts, such as Blindsight and its recent sequel, Echopraxia -- no coincidence, as the two workshop together in Toronto's Cecil Street group.
It's a story of piano-wire suspense, grotesque horrors, and, above all, visceral insight into the race politics of American horror, and how they are bound up with the American project itself, the many groups who set out to carve themselves utopias in the "endless" wilderness of the frontier, treating it all as terra nullus and the other humans -- especially poor, indigenous and black people -- as inconveniences to be despatched.
This is a story with many different villains, all of whom seem to be on the same side, but each of whom is eventually revealed to be playing their own game. What seems like a unified ideological front at first is revealed as a marriage of convenience or an emergent property. This complex story of how unthinkable evil can arise from so many disparate incentives is one of the best of the many truths in this book.
Nickle is a versatile writer -- from the Christmas horror story he wrote with Karl Schroeder to his Rob Ford knife-fight story to his masterful take on ghost stories. But Eutopia shines even in this company.
Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism [David Nickle/Chizine]
The Internet Archive, the Digital Public Library of America and Muckrock have released a version of the Mueller Report as an Epub with 747 live footnotes, fully compliant with both Web and EPUB accessibility requirements.
I'm headed back to San Diego for Comic-Con this weekend, and you can catch me on Saturday and Sunday: Saturday, 5PM: Panel: Writing: Craft, Community, and Crossover (with James Killen, Seanan McGuire, Charlie Jane Anders, Annalee Newitz, and Sarah Gailey), Room 23ABC Sunday, 10AM: Signing and giveaway for Radicalized, Tor Booth, #2701. I hope to […]
Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Boing Boing’s Rob Beschizza for the Cool Tools podcast. Rob is a fascinating person, as you probably already know from the thousands of posts he’s written here. He is an excellent artist, designer, coder, and writer, and has a delightful sense of humor. Rob is also the founder of Txt.fyi, […]
With enough practice and commitment, anyone can be a visual artist. But without the right instruction, that time spent honing your skills could seem like an eternity. If you really want to see where your talent can take you, you need sound fundamentals – and no matter what discipline or genre you lean toward, the […]
Theoretically, there’s never been an easier time for marketers. The ubiquity of social media means a good word – or a good brand – can spread like wildfire with very little effort. But as limitless as the internet is, there’s a lot of competition and noise to contend with. And the vast graveyard of failed […]
They might be the shiny new thing, but AirPods aren’t for everybody. Maybe you’re looking for a new sound or you understandably lost those tiny buds during a brisk run. If so, here’s 10 headphones and earbuds that break out of the Apple mode with a return to quality and wearability. Klipsch R5 Bluetooth Neckband […]