SOFT AND OTHERS: 16 Stories of Wonder and Dread by F. Paul Wilson

SOFT AND OTHERS: 16 Stories of Wonder and Dread

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Sixteen horror tales that span the length of Wilson's 18-year career and the breadth of his reliable if rarely inspired talents. Best known as a novelist (The Keep, The Tomb, Black Wind, etc.), Wilson's stories reflect his longer work, with biting themes couched in traditional prose and plot. Here, the author presents the tales in chronological order, each with an explanatory note. The first note states that its twinned tale, "The Cleaning Machine," was Wilson's first published story (April 1971); it shows in this truncated telling of an alien machine that sucks up an apartment house's residents. A bit smoother is 1972's "Ratman"--but Wilson only begins to hit his ironic stride with 1978's "Lipidleggin," sharp social satire about a future where outlawed, fatty produce (eggs, butter, etc.) are a bootlegger's staple. The subsequent tales tackle a wide range of themes. Some deal with apocalyptic futures--most notably the title story, a chilling pre-AIDS tale about a virus that sweeps humanity, causing its bones to turn to jello. Some are vengeance tales: the most clever is the most recent story here, "Cuts," a voodoo tale in which Wilson, by proxy, takes bloody revenge on the Hollywood producers who made a bomb out of the film version of The Keep, A couple of stories are efficient, standard horror (the best is the Stephen King-ish "Traps," about a monster in an attic). Of the rest, the standouts are "Buckets"--notable not for its clumsy narration but for its tasteless, repulsive theme (aborted babies strike back at the abortionist)--and "Dat-Tay-Vao," a powerful Vietnam War tale about the curse of a healing touch. A scattering of stinging tales, then, and decent fare for Wilson fans; but most readers will prefer the author's novels, especially The Keep.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1989
ISBN: 312-93117-4
Publisher: Tor
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