A Review of Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror, edited by Ellen Datlow

Review by Paul StJohn Mackintosh

nightmarescover1Your Best Nightmares

Ellen Datlow is a tremendously influential figure in horror circles, and this collection is one more significant milestone to be set among the score or so other titles and collections listed in its front matter. As Datlow writes in her introduction to the book, Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror could be considered a sequel to Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror, an anthology that covered the years 1985 to 2005.” Publishers Weekly called that “an anthology to be cherished and an invaluable reference for horror aficionados.” And as a follow-up, this doesn’t disappoint – given what we’ve seen in horror over the past decade, that’s no surprise. As Datlow also writes, with considerable understatement, “2005–2015 has been a great period for short horror fiction.” Read more »

The Cat’s House, fiction by Alana I. Capria

 

*

“When the tattooing was over, the cat nuns wiped my back with alcohol and cat saliva. There is no mouth holier than the cat god’s, the nuns said, and applied their own tongues as salve. They worked their tongues up and down my back until I felt faint.”

"Dioses" © Melissa Lozada, 2016

“Dioses” © Melissa Lozada, 2016

IN THE CAT god’s house, nuns carry silver-plated dishes of raw fish.

The cat god has a name I can’t understand, heavy with consonants, limited in vowels. The cat god stands with limbs twitching and does what it was born to do. The cat god fluffs its whiskers. The cat god rules.

The cat god has twelve nuns. They get down on their knees and clean it with their tongues—dozens of pink nubs coming out of human mouths and swatting against coarse fur. They rub the hard crusts from the corners of its eyes. The cat god sits on a litter box throne, the nuns at the ready to clean what reeks—swollen intestines and blocked up anus.

The cat god is gray, of course. The color of nothing. The cat god’s eyes are gold-blue, with flecks of green along the edges. It blinks slowly, lowering its lids as if they are heavy. The languorous act makes it seem ready to sleep. But the cat god doesn’t sleep. The nuns don’t sleep. I never see those eyes close. Read more »

A Review of The Fisherman, a novel by John Langan

Review by Paul StJohn Mackintosh

review of The Fisherman by John Langan,Draw Out Leviathan

Horror author and scholar John Langan has produced some of the new century’s most representative dark and weird tales, the kind of work that anyone getting into the modern genre cannot ignore, not least because they so perceptively interrogate the entire tradition. Any new book by him, then, is an event, and The Fisherman does not disappoint – it’s a Leviathan of a story, from the very excellent Word Horde. No spoiler alert needed here, really, but when Abe and Dan, both widowers, light out to Dutchman’s Creek in upstate New York for some fishing, they pull up some real monsters, cryptozoological and personal, but also ontological and spiritual. For these are very deep waters indeed.

Langan is a formidably learned and sophisticated writer, and this tale as much as many of his others is about storytelling and the act of spinning a yarn in itself, as much as the ostensible topic of the tale. “I’ve been fishing for a long time, now, and as you might guess, I know a story or two. That’s what fishermen are, right? Storytellers,” says Abe. The nested box construction of The Fisherman takes readers in to the heart of the mystery through a series of concentric tales stretching over a hundred years – only to leap out of the heart of the maze and grab you at the end. By that time, you’ll have been initiated into the dark presence of Der Fischer, the other things that lurk beneath the waters of Dutchman’s Creek, and even grimmer bottom dwellers under the surface of the world. Read more »

Inspiration 1.2, fiction by Jane Lebak

*

“One day, a man named Bob established contact parameters with a woman named Jill, and they mutually negotiated a system of information transfer between them which they defined as love.”                                 

 

Inspiration 1.2.webMY WIFE GREETS me with a kiss and, “You need to debug the house.”

As I pull off my coat, she adds, “None of the lights are working except the one over your reading.” She takes my bag and hands me the tablet computer. “It won’t let me login, either.”

I head to the recliner, wondering what she thinks I can do that she couldn’t. I wait for the operating system to recognize my palm print, but thirty seconds later, it still hasn’t cleared me.

“And your problem is…?” I mutter, resting the tablet on my lap while reclining my seat. I’m getting too old for this. Read more »