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The Most Disturbing Alternate History You'll Ever Read

Illustration for article titled The Most Disturbing Alternate History Youll Ever Read

If Philip K. Dick's "Axis won the war" novel Man in the High Castle made you squirm, then the 1980s novels about Lord Horror and his Nazi England will make your brain explode. The Lord Horror novels — Lord Horror, followed by Motherfuckers: The Auschwitz of Oz — are vicious, psychedelic satire about a Nazi DJ (Lord Horror) in England after Germany wins World War II. Written by underground publishers David Britton and Michael Butterworth, owners of the notorious Savoy Books, the first novel was declared obscene in court and got Britton sent to jail for four months. Now, cult author and critic Keith Seward (who wrote Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish under the name Supervert) has helped revive the long-suppressed scifi classics in a collection called Horror Panegyric. It brings together Seward's essay about the Lord Horror books with excerpts from the novels. And you can read it online for free.


Writes Seward in his introduction to the book:

Unlike Dick or Spinrad, sci-fi writers who confined Nazis to a book or two, Britton and Butterworth have pursued their theme with a probably disturbing intensity that can be quantitatively measured in the sheer volume of Lord Horror productions. What's more, they do not tack a moral to the end of their tales. This is not to say that there are no morals but rather that there are no easy answers, seals of approval, rubber stamps, calmatives ("don't worry, it's just fiction, the jackboots won't hurt you"). Their work is not ideological, like a hate tract, but is rather a deliberate collision of seemingly incompatible ideologies: death camp + dream factory = ? Satire, hyperbole, and reductio ad absurdum work to energize, anger, inspire, offend, but the one thing they do not do to readers is pacify. And why should anyone be pacified by Nazis, even fictional ones?


Seward's essay alone makes great, thoughtful lunchtime reading, especially if you like your scifi on the transgressive side. And once you've read what he has to say about Lord Horror, you'll definitely want to check out the excerpts themselves.

Horror Panegyric [Supervert]

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Annalee Newitz

@Plague: You've got to read Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish too. Seriously awesome.