Friday, April 27, 2012

Fear in the 1980's

Fears: edited by Charles L. Grant (1983) containing:
Surrogate by Janet Fox; Coasting by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro; Spring-Fingered Jack by Susan Casper; Flash Point by Gardner Dozois; A Cold Day in the Mesozoic by Jack Dann; The Train by William F. Nolan; The Dripping by David Morrell; The Ragman by Leslie Alan Horvitz; Deathtracks by Dennis Etchison; Father Dear by Al Sarrantonio; As Old as Sin by Peter D. Pautz; Fish Night by Joe R. Lansdale; Remembering Melody by George R. R. Martin; The Pond by Pat Cadigan; The Beasts That Perish by Reginald Bretnor; Cassie, Waiting by Julie Stevens; and High Tide by Leanne Frahm.

Dandy anthology comprising both reprints and originals from the heyday of anthologized horror, and the heyday of horror great Charles L. Grant. There's something very Bradburyesque about many of these stories. Early, nastier Bradbury, that is, before the whimsy curdled, back when nostalgia worked alongside horror and the fantastic to conjure up that distinctive Bradbury glow that could suddenly be shot through with terror. Certainly the stories by Joe Lansdale, Jack Dann, Al Sarrantonio, and Pat Cadigan operate within the parameters of that Bradbury without slavishly imitating him stylistically or even thematically.

The anthology also gives us a mournful horror dandy from George R.R. Martin when he was a science fiction and horror writer, and not a best-selling epic fantasist. Reginald Bretnor's entry seems like it would make a dandy pitch for a TV show. Susan Casper gives us a prescient horror story about video games (prescient enough to anticipate a subplot on this season's Dexter, pretty good for 1983); Janet Fox leads with a prescient shocker about surrogate parenting. Dennis Etchison is represented here with one of his 1980's classics, and the anthology ends with a nice, Wyndhamesque bio-disaster piece by Leanne Frahm, an Australian writer I'm unfamiliar with. Recommended.

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