Breathmoss and Other Exhalations (2004) by Ian R. MacLeod

In his introduction to Breathmoss and Other Exhalations, Ian R. MacLeod offers his definition of the stories he desires to tell:

“stories that make us think, stories which surprise us not because they’re showing us something new, but because they’re revealing through a lie’s tilted mirror something we suddenly realize with that lovely rush of recognition we’ve known all along.”

 

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Cover Artwork by Bob Eggleton

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The Fog Horn (1951) by Ray Bradbury

‘I’ll make a sound that’s so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns.’

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Ray Bradbury’s The Fog Horn was first published in 1951 in The Saturday Evening Post. I came across it in his 1953 short story collection The Golden Apples of the Sun, which is a HUGE recommendation if you haven’t yet read it. This is the first of my Hallowe’en Reads 2018.

The Fog Horn is a tale of two men who work at a secluded lighthouse and what they witness there on a cold November night. It contains themes of loneliness, isolation, companionship, the power of nature, as well as how little we know about the vast depths of the ocean. Continue reading

Hallowe’en Reads 2018

The sky before a typhoon. View from my garden.

Happy Autumn!

As the days cool and grow shorter and the darkness spreads its ebony fingers, are you ready for some chills and thrills?

Yes, it’s that time of year again when I make – and often fail to complete – a plan for my October reading. As the theme is Hallowe’en, my chosen genre is horror or any kind of weird fiction. I’m planning to focus on novellas and short stories this year as my reading-time has shrunk over the last few months. So, without further ado, here is my list of stories to read as I tentatively set foot into the October country. Continue reading

Mad Hatters & March Hares (2017) Ed. by Ellen Datlow

From the book’s Synopsis:

‘Ellen Datlow asked eighteen of the most brilliant and acclaimed writers working today to dream up stories inspired by all the strange events and surreal characters found in Wonderland.’

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Art by Dave McKean

In her introduction, Datlow writes of her love of ‘the Alice books’, especially the many ‘illustrated versions’. A few years ago, she was asked by someone at a convention if there was an ‘anthology idea’ she had always wanted to do. This question led to the creation of this new collection of Alice-inspired short stories: Mad Hatters and March Hares.

Whether you have read the original books or watched one of the numerous film adaptations, you will be very familiar with Alice and the weird and wonderful characters she meets on her journey down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland. How many can you name off the top of your head? Go on, try it!

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The New Voices of Fantasy (2017) Ed. by Peter S. Beagle & Jacob Weisman

‘The New Voices of Fantasy collects the work of nineteen authors of fantasy that Peter S. Beagle and I firmly believe will soon be much better known. […] All of the stories in this book are recent, published after 2010.’ – Jacob Weisman from his Introduction.

 

Short-story collections can often be a mixed bag of good stories as well as not so good ones. After reading The New Voices of Fantasy, I can say that every story in here is worth reading if you have an interest in fantasy or modern fairy tales. Peter S. Beagle is an author I really admire, so seeing his name attached as one of the editors drew me to this volume. I’ve highlighted the stories that stood out the most for me and would love to hear which stories you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy.

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Lovecraft Unbound (2009) Edited by Ellen Datlow

“Something was there.”
Bishop said nothing. He lifted the magazine again, but his eyes were still.
“Something was down there,” Garner said.
“The Crevasse” by Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrud

Lovecraft Unbound is a collection of twenty short stories inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s weird fiction. In her introduction, Ellen Datlow writes that she was looking for stories that were “subtly Lovecraftian” rather than the more obvious “pastiches” that make up a lot of Lovecraft-themed anthologies:

I asked for stories inspired—thematically and possibly—by plot points in Lovecraft’s mythos. What I wanted was variety: in tone, setting, point of view, time.

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This volume includes stories by Laird Barron, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Lavie Tidhar, Michael Chabon, Joyce Carrol Oates, Michael Cisco, Michael Shea and more. Out of the twenty, the following six stories stood out for me: Continue reading

Oh, to Be a Blobel! (1964) by Philip K. Dick

“Pete, I can’t go on. I’ve got a gelatinous blob for a child.” (p.11)

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First published in the February 1964 issue of Galaxy magazine, Oh, to Be a Blobel! is a satirical short story about interplanetary war veteran George Munster. The Blobels, large amoeba-like aliens, arrived from another star system prompting the Human-Blobel War.

“I fought three years in that war, […] I hated the Blobels and I volunteered; I was only nineteen.” (p.1)

George became a spy, which required him to be medically altered into the jelly-like Blobel form. The problem was, when he returned from the war he was unable to fully relinquish this ‘repellent form.’ Despite his doctor’s best efforts, every twelve hours George reverts to a Blobel. Continue reading