Posts Tagged ‘John Joseph Adams’

Aside from the frighteningly accurate and realistic introduction by editor John Joseph Adams, I do enjoy a good tale of the apocalypse and this collection contains stories from a number of highly regarded authors. I’ll be doing a series of reviews as I read the anthology.

First up, Elizabeth Bear’s Bullet Point. How the author manages to pack so much into the short story just goes to show her skill at the craft. After an unknown event, where the entire population of Las Vegas simply disappears, Isabella is left wondering and wandering in the desert heat. Ticking off lists off what is left and what has gone, never to return, Isabella finds solace in a future free from the troubles that plagued her past.

That is, until she meets a fellow survivor. What follows is a tense yet intriguing and, to be fair, unexpected. It’s a wonderful window into a weird scenario that captures a feeling with impressive ability.

Red Thread by Sofia Samatar is told through the eyes of a teenager, leaving messages on some sort of virtual notice board to her friend Fox. Each note tells of her travels as she and her mother find sanctuary and shelter at different ‘centres’. And, with each note we learn more about the world they live within; one populated with isolation zones and ‘centres’ and something described as the Movement. Between the lines and behind the personal story there is the greater concerns of climate change and war and violence, and in its subtle way, Red Thread draws a somber tale of humanity scrambling to survive.

I skipped ahead in the collection to read Jonathan Maberry’s Not This War, Not This World, because, well, it’s Jonathan Maberry. As the author explains, this short is a sequel to some of his other work, connecting other stories together and acting as a prequel to George A. Romero’s films. It is a no-holds-barred look into the life of a DELTA sniper, unravelling in the face of a zombie apocalypse. Maberry pulls no punches as his protagonist is faced with the most awful of choices. As the sniper, Sam Imura, breaks under the pressure, his world shrinks down to one of two decisions; to match forward and protect the innocent or to take himself out and end the nightmare. Under the stars, on a cold night, facing down a hungry, undead horde, neither is an easy road.

Published by Titan Books

Review copy

Advertisements

IMG_2153.JPG

There’s always so many things to do but when I don’t read, things just don’t feel like they should. With that in mind, I got stuck in to Dead Mans Hand once again. Alastair Reynolds is a favourite author of mine and it was exciting to read his take on the weird west. Wrecking Party kicks off with a description as Wild West as they come but it’s not long before that tale takes a mighty swerve in the weird direction.

Marshal Bill is just trying to keep the peace when a bedraggled drunk starts smashing up the local hoodlums ‘horseless carriage’. Turns out that Bill knows this vandal from the days gone by and the reasons for his destructive streak is both unbelievable but also undeniable. Reynolds’ grasp on his characters is faultless and the atmosphere of a Western is powerful, allowing the story that unfolds to seem as fantastical as it should to a mind unused to machines and technology.

Wrecking Machine is almost like a precursor to the terror of Skynet in Terminator, telling of the inevitable rise of the machine. Yet, it is done so subtly and with such impeccable design that it’s a story that will stick with you. The final little salute to the story and it’s narrator brought a smile to my face, reinforcing Reynolds’ skill as a storyteller and this tale as one of my favourite shorts from the anthology by far.

Review copy
Published by Titan Books

IMG_2153.JPG

You may have noticed that I’ve not blogged for a while. A lack of internet meant the kindle was out of commission and the tower of boxes stumped any attempt at finding a decent book to read. However, we are back on line and, more importantly, back reading!

I’ve been looking forward to reading some shorts from John Joseph Adams’ anthology so I started at the beginning with Joe R. Lansdale’s The Red-Head Dead. Considered the initiator of the Weird West sub-genre, I was hoping for a tale of epic proportions. What Lansdale offered was a pretty straightforward slice from his Reverend Mercer world. I expect it would mean a lot more to readers versed in that world but, for me, it was a little too linear.

The Reverend clearly has an odd relationship with a god who takes pleasure in causing chaos as a sporting spectacle. That said, he succeeded in the task he was set, driving the evil back into the grave and awaiting his next dangerous mission.

Mike Resnick’s The Hell-Bound Stagecoach was a little more of what I was expecting. An ensemble of hard bitten, dust covered cowboys mixed up with a devilish coach bound to hell. With just the right amount of vernacular thrown in and a lady in need of saving from Satan’s own claws, the gunslingers find it in themselves to make a stand for what is right.

Resnick has a great cast of characters who fit the bill of a Western perfectly. It’s also fairly amusing how all three killers accept and adapt to their fate so quickly. Banding together to protect Miss Abigail, a baker of some repute, I still can’t decide if it was the ‘victuals’ she provided or their sense of justice that had them take the demon coach driver to task.

But, all in all, a thoroughly entertaining yarn. I’ll definitely be dipping into this anthology more over the week ahead.

Review copy
Published by Titan Books