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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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