Paradoxa publishes articles on genre literature: science fiction, horror, mysteries, children's literature, romance, comic studies, the fantastic, best sellers, the occult, westerns, oral literature, and more.

Gordon Sullivan
Independent Scholar
“Something to do with Black Water”:Climate, Complicity and Cosmic Horror in John Langan’s The Fisherman


Weird fiction, especially in its use of cosmic horror, seems like a natural place to find what Timothy Morton has dubbed “hyperobjects,” those objects which are so massive in scale that they trouble human intervention or understanding. Morton acknowledges this affinity with reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, but despite this affinity, cosmic horror has been less willing to tackle one of Morton’s canonical hyperobjects, climate change, in part because cosmic horror has generally only worked at the scale of either the human or the cosmic, producing horror from the gap between them. The result is often a pessimistic nihilism, with humans unable to influence the cosmic.

This essay argues that John Langan’s novel of cosmic horror, The Fisherman, offers a way to think cosmic entities as hyperobjects that resists the pessimistic nihilism of much weird fiction. By embedding a cosmic horror tale within a cosmic horror tale and using changes to the weather to bridge the two stories, Langan’s novel offers a way to think about human action at different scales that challenges the absolute gap between human and cosmic