One great short story to read today: John Langan’s “Technicolor”

Drew Broussard

May 29, 2024, 10:30am

According to the powers that be (er, apparently according to Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network), May is Short Story Month. To celebrate, for the second year in a row, the Literary Hub staff will be recommending a single short story, free* to read online, every (work) day of the month. Why not read along with us? Today, we recommend:

“Technicolor,” by John Langan

I’m a sucker for a monologue-story. Maybe it’s my theater background? It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s a killer exercise—a story that makes you want to hear it aloud. I actually read this John Langan tale to myself when I first came across it, but you can hear it read professionally if that’s your bag, thanks to the Pseudopod podcast. What starts as an academic reflection on Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” turns into something altogether more unsettling: a correction, with an aim toward making real what was only a story…

The story begins:

Come on, say it out loud with me: “And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.” Look at that sentence. Who says Edgar Allan Poe was a lousy stylist? Thirteen words—good number for a horror story, right? Although it’s not so much a story as a masque. Yes, it’s about a masque, but it is a masque, too. Of course, you all know what a masque is. If you didn’t, you looked it up in your dictionaries, because that’s what you do in a senior seminar. Anyone?

Read it here.

*If you hit a paywall, we recommend trying with a different/private/incognito browser (but listen, you didn’t hear it from us).

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