Sunday, September 15, 2013

More Whispers in the Dark

Whispers IV: edited by Stuart David Schiff (1983) containing the following stories:

A Night on the Docks by Freff: One of the oddest vampire stories I can think of, with echoes of the classic tale "Call Him Demon" by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore

Into Whose Hands by Karl Edward Wagner: Terrific, moody piece that draws on Wagner's experiences as a psychiatrist working in public mental health facilities. Maybe Wagner's most subtle piece.

Out of Copyright by Ramsey Campbell: Droll bit of supernatural revenge by Campbell, working in a very literary version of his EC Comics revenge mode.

Elle Est Trois, (La Mort) by Tanith Lee: I think this is the prolific, multi-talented Lee's crowning achievement in short works. It's really an essential piece of dark fantasy/horror.

Come to the Party by Frances Garfield: Fun short from the writer also known as Mrs. Manly Wade Wellman.

The Warrior Who Did Not Know Fear by Gerald W. Page: Odd choice, as it's really a piece of a longer work of heroic dark fantasy, a piece without an ending. Still enjoyable.

Fair Trade by William F. Nolan: Another short exercise in the EC vengeance mode, with Nolan doing spot-on dialect for the first-person narrator.

I Never Could Say Goodbye by Charles L. Grant: Mysterious.

The Devil You Say! by Lawrence Treat: More humour than horror.

Diploma Time by Frank Belknap Long: Interesting ghost story from long-time writer Long, with one of his typically jarring moments in which he eschews transitions, though here it's intentional.

Tell Us About the Rats, Grandpa by Stephen Kleinhen: Minor bit of gross-out horror.

What Say the Frogs Now, Jenny? by Hugh B. Cave: Unpleasant insofar as the female victim of sexual harassment is somehow made out to be the antagonist of the piece. I don't think that was Cave's intent, but it's a really ugly, somewhat cliched story.

The Beholder by Richard Christian Matheson: Unusually supernatural story for the master of shocking short-short stories.

Creative Coverage, Inc. by Michael Shea: Bleak comedy about corporate malfeasance. Really, really, really bleak.

The Dancer in the Flames by David Drake: Evocative piece draws on Drake's time in Viet Nam, but uses a somewhat clumsy 'footnote' ending to fully explain what has happened.

The Reflex-Man in Whinnymuir Close by Russell Kirk : Lovely period piece/pastiche by the always elegant Kirk.

In all: recommended.

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