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Department of English, NTNU


This paper investigates and compares language and imagery used by contemporary ecocritics in order to argue that the Anthropocene discourse contains significant parallels to cosmic horror discourse and (new) weird literature. While monsters from the traditional, Lovecraftian weird lend themselves well to Anthropocene allegory due to the coinciding fear affect in both discourses, the new weird genre experiments with ways to move beyond cosmic fear, thereby reimagining the human position in the context of the Anthropocene. Jeff VanderMeer’s trilogy The Southern Reach (2014) presents an alien system of assimilation and ecological mutation into which the characters are launched. It does this in a manner that brings into question human hierarchical coexistence with nonhumans while also exposing the ineffectiveness of current existential norms. This paper argues that new weird stories such as VanderMeer’s are able to rework and dispel the fearful paralysis of cosmic horror found in Lovecraft’s literature and of Anthropocene monsters in ecocritical debate. The Southern Reach and the new weird welcome the monstrous as kin rather than enemy.