Caitlín R. Kiernan

A Critical Study of Her Dark Fiction


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About the Book

Caitlín R. Kiernan is at the forefront of contemporary gothic, weird and science fiction literature. She has written more than a dozen novels, over 250 short stories, many chapbooks, along with a large number of graphic works. For these Kiernan has won numerous awards. This first full-length look at Kiernan’s body of work explores her fictional universe through critical literary lenses to show the depth of her contributions to modern genre literature. A prolific and creative writer, Kiernan’s fictions bring to life our fears about the other, the unknown, and the future through stories that range widely across time and space. A sense of dark terror pervades her novels and stories. Yet Kiernan’s fictional universe is not disengaged from reality. That is because she works within the long tradition of gothic fiction speaking to the gravest ethical, social and cultural issues. In her dark fiction, Kiernan illustrates the terror of the tyranny of the normal, the oppression of marginalized people, and the pervasive violence of our time. Her dystopian sf propels today’s dangerous economic, social, political and environmental tendencies into the future. Kiernan’s fiction portrays troubling truths about the current human condition.

About the Author(s)

James Goho has numerous publications in short fiction, social science studies, and gothic literature. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada.

Bibliographic Details

James Goho

Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 206
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8089-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4073-0
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
A Brief Biography of Caitlín R. Kiernan 3
Introduction 9
One. The Call of the Sí: Irish Supernatural Literature and Folklore in the Fiction of Caitlín R. Kiernan 19
Two. Kiernan Echoes the Literary Decadence 32
Three. The Figure of the Gothic Body 46
Four. The Folklore of Awe and Terror 61
Five. “Warnings to the Curious”: Kiernan’s Science and Mystery Stories 76
Six. Haunted Perceptions: Fear and Trembling in Kiernan’s Fiction 91
Seven. Spectral Confessions: The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir 105
Eight. Dark Futures: Surveying Kiernan’s Science Fiction 117
Nine. Retruthing Steampunk: Kiernan Rewrites American West Steampunk 134
Conclusion: Caitlín R. Kiernan’s Modern Dark Fiction 150
Chapter Notes 159
Bibliography 171
Index 189

Book Reviews & Awards

• “At once a broad, accessible introduction to Kiernan’s work and a valuable resource for scholars and specialists.”—Sean Moreland, University of Ottawa

• “A study sweepingly selective and wide-ranging in scope, but also couched in grainy, close, saturated readings, all inflected by an eclectic but insightful set of theoretical perspectives on the urban horror, dark fantasy and New Weird subgenres.”—Dead Reckonings

• “This is a pioneering and incisive study. It is, of course, the first book to be solely devoted to Kiernan’s work.”—S.T. Joshi