This week’s subject of weird fiction discussion over at LibraryThing.

Review: “Replacements”, Lisa Tuttle, 1992.

This is one of those stories that isn’t cosmic horror, doesn’t use a conventional monster, and introduces a disturbing element into our world which doesn’t – at least immediately – threaten it.

Our protagonist is Stuart Holder, an editor at a London publishing firm. He’s walking through the littered streets of London one morning on the way to the train station. Normally, he’d get a ride from his wife Jenny whose career in publishing has been more successful than Stuart’s. But there was an argument that morning, and Stuart decides to walk.

He comes across a disgusting, unknown creature half dead in the gutter.

It was about the size of a cat, naked-looking, with leathery, hairless skin and thin, spiky limbs that seemed too frail to support the bulbous, ill-proportioned body. The face, with tiny bright eyes and a wet slit of a mouth, was like an evil monkey’s.

He instinctively loathes it and crushes it under foot. The act’s violence surprises him since he’s not given to killing much of anything except insects. The creature isn’t dead, and he stomps on it again, almost screaming, and is disturbed when he sees a “smart business suit” looking at him doing this with “a sick fascination on her face’. That, of course, brings to mind the nicely dressed woman at the beginning of the story. We’re not told it’s the same woman, but maybe it is. Maybe she liked what she saw dying in the gutter that day and somehow got her own.

Continue reading

A Book of Horrors

Just finished listening to the most recent episode of the Coode Street Podcast.

Much more interesting than their usual talk about awards. It featured a interview with Elizabeth Hand about her most recent book, Wylding Hall, the influence of Arthur Machen on her and many other writers, and her interest in depicting artists and the numinous in her work.

It’s just possible I’ll give her Cassandra Neary mysteries a try since it sounds like the series will start to involve matters of the arcane, occult, and ancient sort as it progresses.

My exposure to Hand is pretty perfunctory. I found her “Chip Crockett’s Christmas Carol” pleasant enough, but, not having any childhood memories of a beloved children’s tv show, there was nothing in my background for it to resonate with.

I was unaware, until I looked at her Internet Speculative Fiction database entry, how much critical work she had done since I’m not a regular reader of the Washington Post or The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

The only other fiction I’ve read by her is “Near Zemnor” … and that’s why you get a retro review, from September 18, 2012, of the book it appeared in.

Review: A Book of Horrors, ed. Stephen Jones, 2012.

Book of HorrorsYou can ignore the short introduction which claims this anthology is out to reclaim the label “horror” for scary stories. Not all the stories here are scary. Some aren’t even dark fantasy. And some left me somewhat unsatisfied.

But they all kept me interested. Continue reading