I read Derek Kunsken’s “The Dog’s Paw” in Ellen Datlow’s latest Best Horror of the Year. It is a true horror story, with startling imagery, and a presentation of a topsy turvey world that filled me with unease. I saw today that it is now available for listening on Pseudopod. I am still not sure of aspects of the story. Given the horror that it portrays, what can make it palatable for me in terms of judgement? Taken at face value, it is a recognition that something truly awful may be required, at least in the terrible universe described, and I can’t accept that. Is it a commentary on the ruthless imposition of values by outsiders? Is it a depiction of the thing that cloaks itself in compassion so as to insinuate itself? Is it about the corruption of core beliefs from contact with authority, and the danger of the desire to please? I’m not sure about the premise, given the subject matter.
Far from home, I only read today of the cancellation in Sydney of part of the program of The Festival of Dangerous Ideas (and it was the first I had heard of this particular session). I have never thought of these presentations as being particularly dangerous – Christopher Hitchens speaking on atheism for example was hardly novel or earth shattering in a fairly secular city. Coincidentally, given the story above, the cancelled session was a presentation by an Islamic speaker, “Honour killings are morally justified”. The explanation by the convenor of both the thinking behind the session, and its cancellation, is interesting and gives food for thought. As a human, as a father of daughters, the idea that someone could muster an argument to speak for the affirmative is a horror story in itself.