Sixteen stories of horror and dark fantasy by a California writer whose material is reminiscent of Stephen King (Etchison's contemporary, a colleague at Cavalier magazine) but whose approach tends to be more oblique. The weakest entries here are Etchison's tales of freeway alienation, with strung-out heroes encountering evil, streak-haired women in bars and laundromats. Better, if grosser, are a trio of pieces involving the emotional/psychic ramifications of transplants--or a cannibalistic resurfacing of the Donner Party, again with a she-devil angle. (A couple of other grislies--human corpses in the butcher-shop, etc.--are less original.) And best of all are Etchison's Ray Bradbury-ish fantasies of missed connections (especially ""Deathtracks,"" with its TV-dominated, hollowed-out household)--plus ""We Have All Been Here Before,"" a clever treatment of the police-helping psychic (the standout in a recent Whispers anthology). A mix of genuine chills, flat gore, and murky pretentiousness, then--and some of Etchison's best stories are not included; but an above-average collection nonetheless for fanciers of dark fantasy/horror with heavy contemporary overtones.
Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1982
Page Count: -
Publisher: Scream/Press (P.O. 8531, Santa Cruz, CA 95061)