Despite editor Williamson's introductory gobblespeak to the effect that his collected authors ""mirror a point in history...


MASQUES III: All-New Works of Horror and the Supernatural

Despite editor Williamson's introductory gobblespeak to the effect that his collected authors ""mirror a point in history when acronym and euphemism attempt to replace apology, action, grief,"" what he's really offering here is a mostly ho-hum collection of original horror works by mostly minor talents--just as in Masques I & II. Williamson does, however, provide a variety of theme wide enough to divide his catch into four pretentious piles: Stories for All Seasons, The ""New"" Horror, Concerns of the Mind and Spirit, and Creatures of Terror. Nearly every type of horror story is represented, from the bloodily erotic (R. Patrick Gates' silly ""Long Lips,"" about death-by-fellatio) to the socially aware (""The Skull,"" a searing story of child abuse from Diane Taylor--whose husband D.W. also offers a standout story, ""Dew Drop Inn,"" about the terrors of family alienation). Other above-average tales are Dan Simmons' ""Shave and a Haircut, Two Bites"" a spirited tale of vampires and barbers; Ed Gorman's spooky ghost story in the classic mode, ""Drifter""; and three strong tales that plumb the psyche of the criminally insane: G. Wayne Miller's ""Chosen One,"" about one of those weirdos who wear tin foil to avoid microwaves from Mars; Rex Miller's terrifying ""The Luckiest Man in the World,"" which revives the antihero of his splatter-punk novel, Slob; and Paul Dale Anderson's clever tale of biological schizophrenia, ""Better Than One."" Many less accomplished works are served up by many others, with special dishonorable mention going to Stanley Wiater's obscenely offensive anti-abortion tale, ""When the Wall Cries,"" and to Ray Bradbury, who closes the volume with a poem that's pure obfuscation. A generous and wide-ranging anthology that offers an accurate--i.e., largely mediocre--cross-section of the field as it would be if its biggest stars (King, Straub, Strieber, Barker, et al.) twinkled out.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 1989


Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martins

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1989