lovecraft

Book Review: Torn Realities

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I was first introduced to this anthology at Ad Astra, when Matt Moore read his story Delta Pi. After talking with a few other people online (Facebook? Twitter? Google Plus? I don't really remember anymore...) about the book, I picked up a Kindle Edition.

Torn Realities is a Lovecraft inspired anthology, with a focus on how reality twists and tears, revealing something unknowable, something malevolent, which shifts all our frames of reference. In addition to Matt's story, this anthology also includes Rawhead Rex, a story by Clive Barker. My other favourite stories in the anthology include Amsterdamned, and Hallowed Ground.

Torn Realities Cover Image

Delta Pi by Matt Moore Delta Pi was the first story I turned to, as I was already familiar with the story. As I read it, my mind echoed the punctuated rhythms of Moore's reading. Its energetic and passionate. If you ever get a chance to attend one of his readings, you should. The story itself draws upon the fears some have expressed in recent years, that a high energy particle accelerator experiment could tear the Earth apart in some recreation of the Big Bang. Moore doesn't focus on the science, but on the psychology of a researcher on the outside. Someone who accepts, nay, embraces the conclusions of a paper which other scientists have ignored as the ramblings of a madman.

Opt-in by JW Schnarr

I can see why the editors wanted to lead with this story. Today, personal, highly targeted marketing appears to be the norm. What would happen, however, if the personality targeting you was that of a loved one, since passed away? An advertisement that cannot be ignored, as you seek to keep up a link to the past. The story follows this theme down the rabbit hole, as what if two-way communication occurs, but it's not the loved one on the other side? Reading this story reminded me of the works of Philip K Dick, especially the novel Ubik, on multiple levels.

What Waits Out There by Jamie Lackey Reading this story, I was very much reminded of Nietzsche.

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you. "Beyond Good and Evil", Aphorism 146 (1886)

The terror of being alone, but sensing that something is watching.

Angkor Sabat by C. Deskin Rink

The language used in this story is excessively ornate, telling the tale of a mighty prince turned pauper as he spends his wealth and sanity in an all-consuming search of a lost lover. While most of the story seemed excessive, I found the conclusion a satisfying warning to the dangers of being blinded by obsession.

By The Side Of The Highway by Philip Roberts

Being stuck in a strange temporal loop, able to communicate in a limited way with those who pass through a small section of deserted highway would be enough to drive anyone mad.

The Art of Lucid Dreaming by C.M. Saunders

In psychological horror, what is more terrifying than the desolation of being trapped in your own dreams for eternity? Perhaps being stalked by some malevolent awareness, from beyond the darkness. I quite enjoyed this story.

Rawhead Rex by Clive Barker

A malignant creature, released from a subterranean prison after hundreds of years stalks the British countryside, seeking flesh to devour, bringing death and defiling the landscape. As the landmark reprint in the anthology, I can see why the editors wanted this story. Aside from being written by an acclaimed master of horror, it fits with the theme perfectly.

The Midnight Librarians by Brad Carter As children, we are more likely to accept the existence of monstrosities concealed in darkness. While many of the stories in the anthology have adult protagonists, Carter draws upon the forbidden secrets exposed by rebellious youth. Some tales told to frighten children may just have a basis in another reality.

The Troll That Jack Built by Kathryn Board

Internet Trolls are foul beasts, especially those who prey on others insecurities. There's a reason legislation is being drafted in many areas against cyber bullying. An evil awareness that feeds off negative Internet posts, and the pain they cause, must be a glutton in today's society.

The Calm by James S. Dorr

History repeats itself, and that is certainly true in horror stories, many of which feature the cyclical return of some creature woken from a generations long sleep. This story however, involves a village outside time, and those who come across it in the wilderness, encountering the dangerous creature that haunts the region. This story has a quite interesting monster, one of my favorites in the anthology.

Casa De Los Cadaveres by Gerard Houarner

This story was rather confusing to me. I think it was about a young man wanting to get in on the family business to make some fast money. It appears that the business is something like arcane artifact dealers, or something, and he experiences something really strange. It was hard for me to follow.

In The Shadow of the Equine by Kenneth W. Cain

Camping on an island reached by ferry sounds fun, unless you're stuck with a cult of red-eyed monsters who smell of fish.

Visions of Parin by Joseph Williams

Another great space story. Long space voyages tend to completely unhinge the mind.

Amsterdamned by Mitch Richmond

This is one of my favorite stories in the anthology. It's more subtle than some of the others, the entrapment is at a greater distance. It explores supernatural protection given to someone without their knowing, which when triggered, reveals the secret world, much like in John Carpenter's film They Live.

The Residents of Mossy Rock by Lee Davis

Mental institutions are great hooks for horror stories, as they house all sorts of crazy. But what if particular delusions are real?

A Ride in the Dream Machine by Jessica McHugh

Dreams are extensions of the subconscious mind. The best of dreams come unbidden. Trying to force the matter could be seen as an attack on the mind, with unexpected results.

The Offering by Bob Mustin

A mixture of new age mysticism and Olmec legends result in a plan to wake a slumbering god.

Hallowed Ground by Jeff Suess

A rather well executed civil war story. The author executes a some really great reversals in the story. Those who tend to the dead are not always scavengers of unpure purpose.

The Seventh Plague by Allie Marini Batts

A beautiful piece of prose-poetry regarding the burning of Florida finishes up the anthology.

 

Holiday Books

Books I received over the holidays include include:

  • Steampunk Prime: A Vintage Steampunk Reader. Edited by Mike Ashley
  • The Odyssey, by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles
  • Media Writing: A Practical Introduction by Craig Batty and Sandra Cain
  • After Theory by Terry Eagleton
  • Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins
  • Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

I'm really looking forward to the Steampunk books, especially the anthology put together by the VanderMeers. My copy of their previous steampunk anthology is well worn, and has a lovely hand-drawn zeppelin drawn by Ann at the 2010 Montreal WorldCon.

The Media writing and Convergence Culture texts are for a course I'll be taking in January on writing for the media. The course sounds interesting, and the regular written exercises should be good practice, thinking about writing in a different fashion.

Previous to Christmas, I picked up a few other books:

  • Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft, edited by Stephen Jones
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • Welcome to the Desert of the Real by Slavoj Zizek
  • Mythologies by Barthes
  • Empire of Signs by Barthes
  • How We Became Posthuman, by N. Katherine Hayles
  • Terminal¬†Identity: the Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction by Scott Bukatman
  • Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings, edited by Mark Poster
  • Dreadnought by Cherie Priest
  • Nothing Rhymes With Orange: Perfect Words for Poets, Songwriters, and Rhymers, by Bessie G. Redfield and Hope Vestergaard
  • The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Retribution Falls, by Chris Wooding

I've finished Dreadnought already, which is a brilliant sequel to Boneshaker. It's a stronger novel than the first, and has a much cleaner narration. To be reviewed shortly.

The Necronomicon is a wonderful black faux-leather trade paperback. I've not previously read much of Lovecraft. From the few short stories I've managed out if this text so far, his writing drips atmosphere, although the serial nature of many of his longer stories adds a great deal of repetition.