Weird Gets Noir
This is the second in an annual series that’s fast becoming, on the strength of this showing, a gold standard in contemporary weird fiction. No surprise, given the pedigree of Undertow Publications and series editor Michael Kelly. Each volume is collated by a different guest editor, and this time it’s Kathe Koja. “Part of the excitement comes from comparing and contrasting each year’s volume,” says Kelly in his Foreword. I don’t know what I expected from a volume curated by Kathe Koja, but what we get is notably raw and jolting. Often right from the opening line. “He didn’t even know he was dead. I had just shot this guy in the head and he’s still standing there giving me shit,” begins Nathan Ballingrud’s blistering N’awlins occult noir, “The Atlas of Hell,” which opens and pretty much sets the tone for the whole volume.
by Paul St. John Mackintosh
Exquisitely disturbing tales
V.H. Leslie is an artist and printmaker, as well as a very fine writer, and a member of England’s Omega Printmakers in Portsmouth. The fourteen dark and weird stories in this first collection are as finely crafted as you’d expect from her background, and as mysteriously suggestive as any cryptic design. Her work has been compared to Shirley Jackson or M.R. James, but is completely modern in its fantastic, surreal flavor.
A Folk Rock Frightener in England Elizabeth Hand, a prize-winning New York-born author who lives in Maine, has produced one of the best English mystery tales for many a day. “It began as a riff on Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca,” she has said elsewhere, and the riff developed into a mesmerizing original composition with, as it […]
A Suspenseful, Eerie Page-Turner Jeff VanderMeer’s star has been rising for some years now, and if Annihilation, the first book of The Southern Reach Trilogy is any indication, this series will satisfy long-time readers and earn him many new ones. The story unfolds as a group of four women scientists travel into “Area X” a […]
Delightful, Enchanting and Scary Do you remember what it feels like to be a child, able to believe in the possibility of magic? This book transported me back to, once again, believing in the delightful world of make believe … or is it? The story starts off with a death and a funeral, in which […]
If You’re Not Doing Anything Wrong… Marcus Yallow is a 17-year old geek genius living in a near-future San Francisco where kids are monitored constantly by cyber-security on their school-issued laptops, radio frequency ID chips in their library books, and gait recognition software in the halls. Marcus delights in getting around the system with harmless […]
Serving the Spirits In this near future, post-apocalyptic Toronto, the wealthy live in the suburbs. In the inner city, government and social structures have disintegrated after a series of riots. “The ones who couldn’t or wouldn’t get out,” use a system of barter, and live under the shadow of crime-lord Rudy and his posse. Ti-Jeanne, […]
Nobody writes cooler stories than Kelly Link. Link’s stories draw from fairy tales, myth, pop culture, experimental, horror, gothic, and detective fiction, the tabloids, dreams, nightmares, and half a dozen other things. But this is not merely pulp fiction—wham, bam, thrill and chill. Link uses the tools of pulp fiction to deal with literary concerns: […]
The Moon with a Knife-Sharp Edge Three unwitting college students stand between the reawakening of a dark goddess and the Benandanti, a secret society of magicians who have been running the world for thousands of years. Waking the Moon, which won a Mythopoeic Award and a James Tiptree, Jr. Award, is part horror, part coming […]
A Beautiful View of The Singularity Imagine if you could go anywhere, do anything, and never be alone. Would it bother you if your closest companion and co-creator was a machine? You might think so, but then again you might change your mind after reading this gorgeous, evocative novel, narrated by Elefsis, the machine in […]