An accomplished collection of masterfully crafted horror from some of the genre’s finest practitioners.

QUALIA NOUS

Bailey (Chiral Mad, 2013, etc.) edits this sci-fi/horror anthology of fiction and poetry.

In his introduction to this anthology, Bailey grimly ruminates on the nature of the potential immortality of art, even as its creators are condemned to eventual annihilation: “Every author in Qualia Nous will die. Yes, that is blunt, and a horrifying thought, but their words and the worlds they have created will survive (perchance in the infinite).” The liminal space between the infinite and the finite is much on the mind of the writers contained within this volume, including heavy hitters of the genre such as Stephen King, Gene O’Neill, Lucy A. Snyder, Richard Thomas, Jason V. Brock, James Chambers, Pat R. Steiner, and John Everson. With 25 stories, two poems, and four novelettes, the tome is a dense compendium of psychological horror rooted in the realm of hard sci-fi. The anthology offers a particularly literary-minded selection from the genres, with pieces that blend character study and emotionally complex narrative with plot-and-suspense-driven premises. The work is of a uniformly high quality, with particular standouts from Richard Thomas, Rena Mason, and Patrick Freivald. The best piece, perhaps, is “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” by relative newcomer Usman T. Malik. Tara, a woman with a secret power, watches as first her family and then her city are pulled apart by violence and hate. As the terror piles up, the Beast inside of her whispers, “This is death, this is love, this is the comeuppance of the two, as the world according to you will finally come to an end.” The destructive otherworldly power possessed by Tara and her brother becomes a metaphor for humanity’s capacity for destruction in modern Pakistan—but also for humanity’s capacity for forgiveness. In addition to steeping readers in sci-fi dread, much of the work in the collection comments on the social, natural, and technological ills of the modern world, reaffirming the important role speculative literature can play in reframing the cultural dialogue.

An accomplished collection of masterfully crafted horror from some of the genre’s finest practitioners.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2014

ISBN: 978-0578146461

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Written Backwards

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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