Pile by the Bed reviews Cosmogramma by Courttia Newland a book of short stories casting a new slant on familiar speculative fiction tropes.
Pile by the Bed reviews The Only One in the World, a collection of short stories featuring alternate versions of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson edited by Narelle M Harris.
Pile by bthe Bed reviews From A Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back – forty short stories celebrating the 40th anniversary of arguably the best of the Star Wars films.
Pile by the Bed reviews Nothing Can Hurt You by Nicola Maye Goldberg, a series of connected short stories that revolve around the death of a young woman at the hands of her boyfriend.
Pile by the Bed reviews Why Visit America by Matthew Baker a series of speculative short stories each set in a different alternate America.
Pile by the Bed reviews No Presetns Please by Jayant Kainini, a series of short stories set in Mumbai translated from Kannada.
Pile by the Bed reviews Frying Plantain the debut novel by Zalika Reid-Benta, a series of short stories which follows the life of a young girl of Jamaican descent growing up in Canada.
Pile by the Bed reviews See you at the Toxteth – a retrospective collection of the works by the Godfather of Australian crime fiction – Peter Corris
Pile by the Bed reviews Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee – short stories and extras expanding on his Machineries of Empire universe.
Pile by the Bed reviews the second collection of science fiction stories by Ted Chiang.
Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends the new short story collection by Chris Womersley and finds it like a cross between Raymond Carver and Stephen King.
With many short story collections, it is often instructive to read the author’s comments before diving in. At the front of Neal Gaiman’s recent collection Trigger Warning there was a general overview and then some insight into the genesis of each story in the collection. Joe Hill references Gaiman in his afterward where he talks about the idea behind this collection. And that reason is that after producing a couple of massive tomes (including 2016’s post-apocalyptic doorstop The Fireman) he wanted to get back to writing that was “lean and mean”. As he says, short novels are “all killer no filler”, and goes on to list some of his favourite authors at this length including Gaiman, David Mitchell and even HG Wells. In Strange Weather, Hill has delivered four novellas which, if nothing else, serve as a great advertisement for his range. The four stories traverse a range of ideas and character and each is, in its own very different way, a killer. The first story, Snapshot, starts out feeling very genre. Set mainly in 1988 it features A thirteen-year-old nerdy narrator (although the knowing narration itself comes from when he is an adult), a mysterious dark force that threatens him and people he loves. Possibly a bit of a Stranger Things vibe to it, which is not a bad thing. Hill effectively uses his horror tropes to…
Singing My Sister Down could have been subtitled Margo Lanagan’s Greatest Hits. The title story, which also opens this collection, won a bunch of national and international fantasy awards and was short listed for a number of others. This and nine of the others stories come from earlier collections of Lanagan’s work, the multihued – White Time, Black Juice, Red Spikes and Yellowcake – many of which were also shortlisted for or won their own awards. So these hand picked stories might be considered the best of Lanagan’s best, clearly putting her in an international league of great fantasy short story writers. Singing My Sister Down, the story of a family come to watch the ritual killing of one of their members – consigned to sink into a tar pit – is starkly effective. Many of the other stories are built around ideas that can only lead to trouble – a man who kills clowns, the person who ferries the dead, a magician spurned. Some of the others, particularly two new stories written for this collection are off-kilter retellings of well known fairy tales – Sleeping Beauty in Not Quite Ogre and The Princess and the Frog in The Wood-Queen’s…
As if many of the names don’t give it away (“The Punish”, “The Moans”, “The Blood Drip”), this is a particularly creepy short story collection. The collapse of horses of the title is the vision of a man with a possible brain injury. Four horses lying still in a field, possibly dead, possibly alive and another man at the water trough keeping his back to them. Imagining himself as that other man “unable to turn and look” the narrator considers this scene to be the “state of the whole world, with all of us on the verge of turning around and finding the dead behind us”. This is before he goes and (possibly) burns down the family home, possibly (and possibly not) killing his family. It is not hard to see why Evenson chose this image as the title of this collection of horror stories. The terror in many of the stories comes from a type of existential angst. An inability of the narrator to make sense of a world that does not work the way they think it should, an unwillingness to turn around to see if the dead are in fact behind. Evenson, even in the space of…