If you've followed this series up to this point, you probably understand that I tend to like a sense of the otherworldly in my horror. I love the fantasy elements, which means I tend to gravitate to horror infused with surrealism. This can include anything in David Lynch's filmography, works we normally wouldn't consider horror, such as Luis Bunuel's The Exterminating Angel, and one of my favorite novels, Philip K. Dick's Ubik.
Written in 1969 and set in a futuristic 1992, Ubik is a science fiction novel; you look at its trappings--precognitives advising corporate CEOs on the effects of mergers, spaceships flying to the moon as regularly as intercontinental flights, the dead living a half-life in "cold sleep", seeing both the phenomenal world and the world beyond--yet it functions equally as a metaphysical horror story. Questions about life and death arise regularly. Reality and unreality crash together, fracturing both.
Dick arguably has written better novels, but in terms of what horror fans might enjoy, Ubik is the one I would recommend. It's strange, surreal, and horrifying, with existential dread building as reality breaks down. Fans of A Nightmare on Elm Street will find a lot to love in its dream logic.
Do you have a favorite surreal horror story or horror novel? Do you have a favorite Philip K. Dick novel? Let me know in the comments.
Derek Austin Johnson has lived most of his life in the Lone Star State. His work has appeared in The Horror Zine, Rayguns Over Texas!, Horror U.S.A.: Texas, Campfire Macabre, The Dread Machine, and Generation X-ed.
He lives in Central Texas.