Since Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, arguably the world’s first Science-Fiction novel, the genres of Horror and Sci-Fi have been inextricably linked. Where there is no direct connection between the two, the occult becomes science’s proxy. And why not? What is the occult, after all, but that which lays beyond the purview of reason and science?
At the time of Frankenstein’s publication, the study of electricity dominated the scientific landscape. Scientists, known then as Natural Philosophers, were only beginning to understand the nature of the human body as an electrical machine. This new boundary of human understanding provided a fertile backdrop for Shelly’s timeless work.
A telling example of the relationship between the limits of our understanding and the landscapes of horror may be found in the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In his short story, “The Horror of the Heights,” a new scientific boundary provides the basis for fear of what may lay beyond—air flight.
Modern advances in science, and particularly in particle physics, have provided the writer of horror, fantasy, and science-fiction with fertile grounds upon which to sow. The famous double-slit experiment (which seems to indicate that light is aware of whether it is being observed) makes you and I complicit in the collapse of the probability wave-form and therefore in the creation of what we would deem reality. To paraphrase stem-cell pioneer Robert Lanza, the question shouldn’t be “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, will it make a sound?” but “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to observe it, was there ever really a tree in the woods?” Science is no longer so sure…
If this amazing left-turn in our understanding of the world around us (projected by us?) isn’t enough to stir the imagination, consider the mystery of particle entanglement. “Entangled” particles influence one another over vast amounts of space and even time. If one is turning clockwise, we can know for a fact that its entangled counterpart is spinning the other way. Why is this so interesting? Because information passes between the entangled particles faster than the speed of light. The only reasonable explanation for this “spooky action at a distance,” as Albert Einstein labeled it, has been offered by Robert Lanza, author of the book Biocentrism. He suggests that we, or rather consciousness itself, provide the bridge between these physically unconnected (yet inextricably bound) particles.
Again, we create our reality, it would seem.
If this is true, or even partly true,what are the implications regarding our understanding of mental illness? Of hallucination and night-terrors? Of reality itself? New scientific boundaries call into question everything we thought we understood—and what, my friends, could be at the same time more horrific and more fantastic than that?
And who’s to say, after all, that God isn’t a rabbit, and that we’re not all going to die?
J. Robert Kane is a writer of horror and science-fiction.
Mr. Kane attended SUNY Empire State College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in American History. He received the Joseph L. Mancino Scholarshipand enjoyed volunteering part-time at the campus writing lab.
Hailing from Long Island, New York, J. Robert Kane lives with his longtime love Rebecca.
Featured Photo Credit (C) The Midnight Man