I AM PROVIDENCE review, by The Horror Hypothesis
Recently, I had the privilege of attending the 6th Annual Scares That Care Convention in Williamsburg, VA. I was only there for a couple of hours, but I shared many of the same surreal experiences (Kane Hodder shook my hand) as fellow Night Worms contributor, Kallie, who did a fantastic write up of the event.
During my visit, I attended a book reading led by Nick Mamatas and Maurice Broaddus. Mamatas began their session by grabbing the microphone and declaring something to the effect of “this is a book reading, but we hate reading our work, so I’ll give you two sentences and that’s it.” He then hastily quoted a character from one of his books who states, “art does not pay the bills.”
Mamatas made quite the first impression.
Immediately after letting us know he hates writing novels, Nick pitched us one (I love this guy): I AM PROVIDENCE, a murder mystery set during a Lovecraft themed convention. He also let us know that it was inspired thanks to a real-life incident where he was banned from a prominent convention for outing out a high ranking fan for sexual harassment.
I was no-platformed from a certain Worldcon for being too critical of fandom after playing a small role in outing a big-name fan who sexually harassed an author of mine at Readercon. I was literally told to "apologize to fandom."— Nick Ban Nazis Mamatas 🤼♂️🏴 (@NMamatas) July 23, 2018
I AM PROVIDENCE is his apology.
First of all, despite his objection to the form, Mamatas is a fantastic novelist. I AM PROVIDENCE is a wonderful satire of fandom, horror nerds (I can laugh at myself. If you can’t, this novel will infuriate you), and the complicated (racist) history of HP Lovecraft. It’s written with the acidic temperament of someone who has two middle fingers up and no fucks to give. One of its protagonists is a faceless corpse who is decomposing and slowly losing consciousness after being murdered at the convention, while the other is a first time “Summer Tentacular” attendee who is attempting to solve the whodunit while navigating the absurd customs of Lovecraftians. The characters are walking cliches for the most part, but Mamatas uses them as vehicles for his assault on the perils of zealous fandom.
After catching his “reading,” I knew I had to read I AM PROVIDENCE and I am very glad I did. Here’s the note Nick left me in my copy:
“Hope your Con goes better than the one in this book!”
Fandom needs its checks and balances and I AM PROVIDENCE is a prescient reminder of this fact. Published in 2016, this novel grows more important every time there is an example of a group of fans taking their criticism to a senseless level: The Hunger Games. Star Wars. Captain Marvel. I thought of these examples in 15 seconds. There are many, many more.
While I did, in fact, have a wonderful experience at Scares That Care (I still have my face, at least), I applaud Mamatas for clearly not giving two shits about what his target audience would think of this novel. On Goodreads, it sits at a 3. People either 1-star hate it, or ⅘ star love it.
Like so much of the world we’re navigating in 2019.
Please keep writing novels, Nick.
The Horror Hypothesis - Night Worms Bio
Donnie Hypothesis is an avid reader, writer, and collector of horror fiction. He runs the Bookstagram page, “The Horror Hypothesis,” which advocates for the Horror literature genre as a whole. He currently lives in Central Virginia where he spends most of his free time reading, making music, playing video games, and watching movies.