All stories require conflict of some kind… but does it always need to be violent conflict? There is certainly a trend in fantasy, science fiction, and horror to find narratives driving towards a massive violent conclusion. These have become set-pieces, the very things that sell Blockbuster films to audiences. We expect them in our genre narratives now, but why? Are they really necessary for genre narratives to be effective?

Is the level of violence we’re used to seeing really necessary? Often, the threat of violence is far more interesting and better at keeping the reader or viewer on the edge of their seat than the culmination of that threat.

Charlotte argues that these stories always boil down to the basic fight for survival. Will survival always eventually come down to violence?

If we must include violence in our narratives, what makes some violence valid and others gratuitous? When violence becomes too ‘clean’, where we are removed from the confronting, emotionally arresting aspects of that violence, it no longer has a reason to exist.

This week, we ask whether violence is necessary for genre narratives. What would happen to the stories if we removed the violence?

Further reading:

Texts mentioned in this episode:

  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Moon
  • I am Legend by Richard Matheson
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Shape of Water
  • Starship Troopers (book by Robert Heinlein and film)
  • Sebastian de Castel (author)
  • Gladiator
  • Star Trek
  • The First Law by Joe Abercrombie
  • Black Sails
  • Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Melinda Snodgrass (author)
  • We are Legion by Melinda Snodgrass
  • Rogue One
  • Alien and Aliens
  • Harry Potter by JK Rowling
  • Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire
  • The Copper Cat by Jen Williams
  • Star Wars: A New Hope
  • The Riddle Master by Patricia A. McKillip
  • MacGyver
  • Dr Who
  • Call of Duty
  • Altered Carbon
  • Kick-Ass
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • Cabin in the Woods
  • Matt Shaw (extreme horror writer)
  • Dawn Kano (extreme horror writer)
  • Saw franchise
  • Hostel
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Wristcutters
  • Wolf Creek