A Natural History of Autumn

Mon 31 Oct 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

A Natural History of Hell cover - click to view full sizeJeffrey Ford’s story “A Natural History of Autumn” was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It was nominated for both World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards and went on to win the Shirley Jackson Award — which gives some idea of the shape of the story. Yes, it is spooky. “Mythic and creepy” even, as Josh Johnson at Hazel and Wren calls it. If, even though it is obviously fiction, it has some nugget of truth about the season of autumn in it, it does makes me wonder if even in the height of summer I should ever be looking forward to the (Northern hemisphere) cooler days of autumn. Of course if I turn my mind to the election instead of the natural world, it is a terrifying time.

Jeff was interviewed about inspirations for the story and the research he did before writing it on the F&SF blog and for fun included “a list of my top ten favorite works of fiction (at this moment) from Japan.”

The story was reprinted in Ellen Datlow’s anthology The Monstrous, is collected in Jeff’s new collection, A Natural History of Hell, and appears today on Lithub for your enjoyment.

Update: today Late Night Library posted a new interview with Jeff:

AUSTIN WILSON: Animals feature in several of the collection’s stories, sometimes as no more than pets or wild creatures, but also anthropomorphic monstrosities. What do you think we fear more: the familiar turning on us, or the attack of the unknown?

JEFFREY FORD: I think “the familiar turning on us” is actually an aspect of “the attack of the unknown.” For most scary stories the mood and scene are more important than the menace. As for animals in the stories, it makes sense. I live in a house with 3 dogs and 6 cats. There are cows and goats and horses just across the road. Out back, there are deer eating from our garden and apple trees, and in the winter, I suppose, coyotes eating deer in the snow covered, stubble fields. At night, in spring, the fox comes, stands behind the garage and cries out with a sound like Satan choking on a wishbone. The animals are everywhere.

Read on


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