Technological Horror, The Evolution of Supernatural and Weird Horror?

In H. P. Lovecraft’s "Supernatural Horror in Literature" (1927), Lovecraft describes a horror that distances itself away from anything physical and attempts to attack the psyche of the reader through cosmic mystery, ancient folklore and culture as well as our primal instincts. Themes such as space and the deep ocean, primordial Gods and mythology and their respective mysteries seep into literature to create a profound sense of dread and isolation from the real world.

With the advancement of computers and networks, a new theme in horror fiction has found its footing amongst the aforementioned ideas: the theme of technology and the mystery of cyber data, the disposable nature of human flesh, its replacement by better and stronger artificial prosthetics and the paranoia of human-made machine rising against its own creator after achieving consciousness, something only humans so far possess. Works such as Harlan Ellison’s "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" (1968), Mamoru Oshii’s "Ghost in the Shell" (1995) or Frictional Games’s "Soma" (2015) explore this newfound horror with different methods, but with great success.

The question therefore lies within the nature of this trope. Is technological horror part of the weird and the supernatural as it treats technology as its own entity and its own vast realm of mystery, similar to that of the endless space and the deep ocean? How does technological horror fit with the ghost, thriller or other forms of scary themes? What other modern fictional stories bring forth technology as a truly terrifying aspect that attacks the mind of the consumer and isolates them from their world, rather than cause brief shock or superficial scares?

  • Great topic here. I'd encourage anyone tackling this topic to also consider Serial Experiments: Lain as another source of technological horror dealing with many of the same questions. It's a... complicated piece... but could provide some compelling ideas. – Elliot Brunk 5 months ago
  • This means that the presence of technology in our lives is modifying and amplifying the meaning of horror... "Black Mirror," for example, is basically horror as a consequence of technological advancement and implementation. – T. Palomino 5 months ago

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