Unvarnished Reviews

Everything I’ve read this week is from the antho The New Weird (Powell’s | Amazon). A couple of them were novellette-length (gasp!), but they’ll get the same quick, off-the-cuff treatment that any other piece gets.

I have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a crop of stories this much!

M. John Harrison, “The Luck in the Head” – This is the second Harrison story I’ve read, and unfortunately I think I’ve fallen into the camp of those who really admire his prose but who finish his stories feeling, “WTF?” The novelette length didn’t help, either, but that’s a personal thing with me. 3 out of 5.

Clive Barker, “In the Hills, the Cities” – Oddly enough, this story must’ve been about two or three thousand words longer than Harrison’s story. But it took about 1/5 of the time to read. I did think it was a touch too long, with a little too much time spent on the interactions between the two main characters relative to the payoff at the end. Still, 5 out of 5.

Michael Moorcock, “Crossing Into Cambodia” – This is a nice an homage to Isaac Babel as I’ve ever read. A great blend of literary iconography: a Babel-like protagonist caught up in a Moorcock world. 5 out of 5!

Simon D. Ings, “The Braining of Mother Lamprey” – I have to give this 5 out of 5. I actually thought there were a couple of characters too many and I got mired in some of the details, but I’ll be damned–I never got lost. This is definitely one to re-read, if nothing else, for the tutorial on world-building in a short-story.

Kathe Koja, “The Neglected Garden” – There’s nothing like a fantasy/horror story that could, with a little imagination (and not a very “nice” imagination, at that), take place in your own back yard! 5 out of 5!