Supernatural fiction contains its own generic borderland: a neutral territory, which Tzvetan Todorov calls 'the fantastic,' between 'the marvelous' and 'the uncanny.' According to Todorov, 'The fantastic is that hesitation experienced by a person who knows only the laws of nature, confronting an apparently supernatural event.' Once the event is satisfactorily explained (and sometimes it is never explained), we have left the fantastic for an adjacent genre - either 'the uncanny,' where the apparently supernatural is revealed as illusory, or 'the marvelous,' where the laws of ordinary reality must be revised to incorporate the supernatural. As long as uncertainty reigns, however, we are in the ambiguous realm of the fantastic.
Psychic change, as Todorov has recognized, subverted the genre in another way, by revoking the cultural taboos, the social censorship, that had prohibited the overt treatment of psychosexual themes, which then found covert expression in the supernatural tale. 'There is no need today to resort to the devil [or to posthumous reverie] in order to speak of excessive sexual desire, and none to resort to vampires in order to designate the attraction exerted by corpses: psychoanalysis, and the literature which is directly or indirectly inspired by it, deal with these matters in undisguised terms. The themes of fantastic literature have become, literally, the very themes of the psychological investigations of the last fifty years.
Inevitably, his vision verged toward the fantastic; he published a scattering of stories - most included in this volume - which appeared to conform to that genre at least to the degree that the fuller part of his vision could be seen as "mysteries." For Woolrich it all was fantastic; the clock in the tower, hand in the glove, out of control vehicle, errant gunshot which destroyed; whether destructive coincidence was masked in the "naturalistic" or the "incredible" was all pretty much the same to him. RENDEZVOUS IN BLACK, THE BRIDE WORE BLACK, NIGHTMARE are all great swollen dreams, turgid constructions of the night, obsession and grotesque outcome; to turn from these to the "fantastic" was not to turn at all. The work, as is usually the case with a major writer was perfectly formed, perfectly consistent, the vision leached into every area and pulled the book together. "Jane Brown's Body" is a suspense story. THE BRIDE WORE BLACK is science fiction. PHANTOM LADY is a gothic. RENDEZVOUS IN BLACK was a bildungsroman. It does not matter.
An admirable line of Pablo Neruda’s, “My creatures are born of a long denial,” seems to me the best definition of writing as a kind of exorcism, casting off invading creatures by projecting them into universal existence, keeping them on the other side of the bridge… It may be exaggerating to say that all completely successful short stories, especially fantastic stories, are products of neurosis, nightmares or hallucination neutralized through objectification and translated to a medium outside the neurotic terrain. This polarization can be found in any memorable short story, as if the author, wanting to rid himself of his creature as soon and as absolutely as possible, exorcises it the only way he can: by writing it.