For those not already acquainted, Joe Hill is the son of author Stephen King. Horns is his standout piece of work to date and addresses a theme close to the heart of all horror, if horror has a heart.
Evil is the grease of the mighty wheel churning out the scary stuff. Within the first few pages of Horns, you get the picture; People Are Evil. Even when they are eating a doughnut on the couch or lifting weights, evil thoughts are frothing around in the background. In his story, Hill has people's evil thoughts overflowing onto one poor sap cursed with the budding powers of a devil. And yes, he has budding horns as well.
Not long ago, I had the pleasure of pre-interviewing a very cool human being. Nothing to do with horror mind you, he was one of the founders of ICUC Moderation Services. The basic question was about internet based commentary that is filtered out -- the stuff the public does not get to see. "Evil! People are so evil..." began the conversation I did not expect. In the next ten minutes, between a few seething swear words and the revving of his car engine in the background, he gave me very censored description of the type of junk they scour from popular websites. The picture he painted while we spoke (he, hands-free and hugging the highway with me at my desk, enraptured) was a portrait of the hidden savages that come alive online. It left me wondering why humans don't just give up and hit the streets naked, mud-streaked and begin decapitating one another for kicks. Seriously. Evil.
People are Evil.
So. Here we are. Fiction in one hand; a budding demon who can hear the most secret and vile things simmering in the background of our private minds. In the other; a sanitized internet. Sanitized with good reason, because people are evil.
I urge you to take a spin through Horns. Then, when you read a particularly horrid bit, take a look around. You might be on the bus, in the library or cafe, but there will be people somewhere. Let us know what you think.
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