Sullivan’s anthology features tales of rampaging demons, a breakthrough in fashion technology with unintended consequences, and Sherlock Holmes facing a werewolf.
Sullivan, of the hardboiled Sam Dane detective series, here offers an assortment of short tales—including some mere fragments—mostly falling into the realm of the fantastic. The titular opener, presented by the writer as the first piece for which he ever got paid, somewhat follows the lines of classic sci-fi regarding a new technology and its unforeseen consequences. In this case, an inventor designs a fabric of miniscule pixel-screens that can effectively morph into any sort of garment. Result: women’s wear that never goes out of fashion. Unfortunately, combined with a few other human tendencies (and the inventor’s nasty divorce), the garment alters society, much to the protagonist’s regret. (If only WWD had a fiction issue.) The other stories sometimes have trouble living up to that complete-package standard, but there are still compact gems of imagination. “It’s a Jungle” creatively riffs on the urban legend of alligators infesting the sewers of New York City. “Between the Bronze Mirrors,” a pulpy tale of a murderous railroad tycoon trying to use captured demons against a business rival, is described by Sullivan in his introductory note as steampunk, though it’s more akin to a Lovecraft tribute. A few odds and ends seem mainly included to demonstrate the author’s storytelling mechanics and thought processes: “Sherlock Holmes and the Leeds Serial Killer,” an affectionate Conan Doyle pastiche pitting the great detective against a lycanthrope, jumps right to the climax, as Sherlock patiently explains how he unraveled the clues to arrive at a hair-raising conclusion. “Gruff Samples Spanish Wines” features the rip-roaring antics of an ageless soldier-adventurer who insists on a companion to write down his exploits. That full project was never published, which is unfortunate if all submissions were up to the quality of this one.
A diverting little omnibus of sci-fi, fantasy and pulpy yarn-spinning.