A generally lackluster collection of original horror fiction distinguished only by Dean Koontz's fiery introduction. The horror field, Koontz argues, is in a ""sorry state,"" held hostage to the bloodlust of fans who will devour any horror novel as long as it drips with gore. Pointing to the genre's roots in the literate work of H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Lieber, and Ray Bradbury, he calls on horror writers to polish their ""woefully weak prose style"" and to end the tyranny of fan-dictated slasher horror (he also decries ""too quiet"" horror). Of the five fictions printed here, three do follow Koontz's advice--but only two to even medium effect. The two offenders are Ray Garton's novella, ""Monsters,"" a didactic and bloody tale of lycanthropy caused by religious intolerance and displaying none of the ironies of the author's classic vampire novel, Live Girls; and F. Paul Wilson's ""Faces,"" which begins with the words ""Bite her face off"" and then slides even further into the gutter. Less offensive--but no less contrived--is Wilson's black-humoresque and decidedly pulpish short story, ""Tenants,"" about a vicious escaped killer's bloody run-in with elfish types. The remaining two stories, the best of the sad lot, curiously sport mirror-image premises: in Wilson's tepidly amusing Twilight-Zone-y tale, ""Feelings,"" a selfish lawyer must share the sufferings of others until his senses reach a murderous fever-pitch; in Sheri S. Tepper's imaginative but clunky novella, ""The Gardener,"" a selfish landscaper learns a hard lesson by losing his senses one-by-one even as he designs an all-gray bower for a sense-sucking vampire. Koontz's opening call-to-arms will likely stir up the field and deserves reprinting; the fictions here, however, are best forgotten.