Our bodies betray us in the tales of dark horror founded on science fiction from Mutation Nation. Chilling and thought-provoking, these tales examine the power of mutation to create wonder and terror, either in the form of human monsters or of new species of humanity that pose a challenge to those of us who call ourselves normal.
The first three stories in the collection -- "Angel and Grace," by Ed Kurtz, "Queen of Hearts," by Helen E. Davis, and "Swanson," by Jarrett Keene -- show its strength and its diversity. "Angel and Grace" is a classical tale of backwoods horror, a claustrophobic wedding that might've been planned by H. P. Lovecraft. "Queen of Hearts" is a dark, disturbing exploration of fear of medical procedures gone wrong, with an opening that could induce nightmares if read at the wrong time. "Swanson" is a brilliant, twisted tale of conspiracies involving a reclusive billionnaire, a humanoid robot, and bitter fruits of nuclear testing -- a tale that the early Heinlein might well have been proud to write. Any anthology that can start with three such stories deserves praise.
The remaining stories in the collection are generally well written and well plotted, though some of them work for me better than others. Of them, I especially enjoyed "Compatible Donor" (JT Rowland), a grim exploration of how a gift can be a curse, "Chrysalis" (Roberta Lannes) a dark, lyrical tale of alienation and transformation, and "Menagerie of the Maladapted" (Stephen Woodworth), a haunting exploration of death and rebirth in a dying world.
I have to say that I found "Dream in a Box," by Wendy Rathbone, powerfully moving, though, having lived through something much like the protagonist's experience in the story, I can't be objective about it.Read more ›
Mutation Nation, edited by Kelly Dunn (Rainstorm Press)
An intriguing collection of eleven stories exploring what occurs when the human body mutates. Ranging from horror to emotional prose, each contribution offers a fanciful insight into something potentially horrendous. As a fan of short fiction stories, I was enthralled by this topic in particular, as one which is endlessly fascinating. My personal favorites stories in this collection were "Angel and Grace," by Ed Kurtz, "Swanson," by Jarret Keene, and the touching story "The Dream In a Box," by Wendy Rathbone.