British comedian’s debut collection of weird urban fantasies.
Set in contemporary London or in the English countryside, these dozen urban pieces from Dyson, a member of the comedy duo League of Gentlemen seen here on cable (Comedy Central), are reminiscent of the short fiction published in the American pulp magazines Weird Tales and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (and dramatized on TV in Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents). In “City Deep,” one of three stories included here that have been published previously, a miserable claustrophobe reluctantly takes the London Underground, only to discover that the train he’s riding is filled with denizens of a frightful world below his own. “Love in the Time of Molyneux” describes a shy, one-armed misanthrope who permits himself to be seduced by a sexy avenging angel; what the angel wants is to teach the misanthrope’s conceited, womanizing roommate that he’s not the Messiah. Similar revenge scenarios deliver supernatural justice on a fatuous magician in “We Who Walk Through Walls” and on a pompous art instructor in “A Slate Roof in the Rain.” Not all the twist endings are downbeat: another shy fellow, after stumbling on a fortunetelling ATM that dispenses advice to the lovelorn, works up the courage to confess his love to his girlfriend. Another social misfit visits an Asian bordello in “All in the Telling,” the gem that closes the collection, in order to enjoy an eerie congruence between sex and storytelling.
Quirky, erotic, vaguely sinister explorations of mostly lonely outsiders who find their secret expectations fulfilled by sudden, inexplicable events.