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The Barrens and Others Hardcover – October 15, 1998

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1st edition (October 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312864167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312864163
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,904,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

The Barrens and Others may be the collection that F. Paul Wilson fans have been waiting for. It consists of 12 previously published stories, and 2 previously unpublished works--a stage adaptation of "Pelts" and a teleplay called "Glim-Glim."

The collection runs the gamut from gory horror stories to bizarre supernatural tales, and in each piece, one thing is glaringly obvious--Wilson knows how to write people. From the sociopath in "Tenants" to the vigilante repairman in "A Day in the Life" (who also appeared in "The Tomb" and Legacies), Wilson's characters are painfully accurate and believable. Even when the plot line is flimsy, they carry the story. "Feelings," though a somewhat predictable bad-man-learns-lesson tale, boasts one of the best greedy-lawyer characters in print.

The Barrens and Others is a showcase for F. Paul Wilson's imagination, but the real hidden gems in this collection are actually the brief narratives that precede each story. Read in succession, they offer an anecdotal, autobiographical account of Wilson's writing career. --Mara Friedman

From Publishers Weekly

"This was the stuff of Twilight Zone," frets a bewitched character in the first story in this worthwhile collection, setting the tone for the remaining selections. Though its contents range from dark suspense to light fantasy, the 12 stories and two stage and television scripts that make up Wilson's first full-length compilation since Soft and Others (1989) all have a macabre edge honed on the hard experiences of their characters. In "Slasher," the bereaved father of a murdered girl confronts the self-destructive potential of his rage when he accepts the help of an enigmatic FBI agent with clues to the killer's whereabouts. In "Faces," a serial killer's penchant for mutilating faces is a key to her identity. While Wilson's insights into the psychology of victim and villain are intriguingly complex, his prose is lean and flexible. It wends the narratives of the biter-bit tales "Definitive Therapy" and "A Day in the Life" (an all-too-rare short adventure of urban mercenary hero Repairman Jack) through complicated cloverleaves of plot and subplot, and it lays a groundwork of solid credibility for the title story, a dark gem that levers Lovecraftian horrors out of the wilds of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Wilson's fearless willingness to engage reader sympathies can sometimes turn preachy, as in the ghoulish anti-fur tale "Pelts." Overall, though, these stories are a welcome riposte to the nihilism and gratuitous violence of much contemporary crime and horror fiction.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

I was born toward the end of the Jurassic Period and raised in New Jersey where I misspent my youth playing with matches, poring over Uncle Scrooge and E.C. comics, reading Lovecraft, Matheson, Bradbury, and Heinlein, listening to Chuck Berry and Alan Freed, and watching Soupy Sales and horror movies. I sold my first story in the Cretaceous Period and have been writing ever since. (Even that dinosaur-killer asteroid couldn't stop me.)

I've written in just about every genre - science fiction, fantasy, horror, a children's Christmas book (with a monster, of course), medical thrillers, political thrillers, even a religious thriller (long before that DaVinci thing). So far I've got about 33 books and 100 or so short stories under my name in 24 languages.

THE KEEP, THE TOMB, HARBINGERS, and BY THE SWORD all appeared on the New York Times Bestsellers List. WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS won the first Prometheus Award in 1979; THE TOMB received the Porgie Award from The West Coast Review of Books. My novelette "Aftershock" received the 1999 Bram Stoker Award for short fiction. DYDEETOWN WORLD was on the young adult recommended reading lists of the American Library Association and the New York Public Library, among others (God knows why). I received the prestigious Inkpot Award from San Diego ComiCon and the Pioneer Award from the RT Booklovers Convention. I'm listed in the 50th anniversary edition of Who's Who in America. (That plus $3 will buy you a girly coffee at Starbuck's.)

My novel THE KEEP was made into a visually striking but otherwise incomprehensible movie (screenplay and direction by Michael Mann) from Paramount in 1983. My original teleplay "Glim-Glim" first aired on Monsters. An adaptation of my short story "Menage a Trois" was part of the pilot for The Hunger series that debuted on Showtime in July 1997.

And then there's the epic saga of the Repairman Jack film. After 14 years in development hell with half a dozen writers and at least a dozen scripts, THE TOMB is finally moving toward production as "Repairman Jack" from Beacon Films and Touchstone. The plan is to make Jack a franchise character. (Gotta tell you: all the years of this has worn me out.)

I've done a few collaborations too. One with Steve Spruill on NIGHTKILL, and a bunch with Matthew J. Costello. Matt and I did world design, characters, and story arcs for Sci-Fi Channel's FTL NewsFeed, a daily newscast set 150 years in the future. An FTL NewsFeed was the first program broadcast by the new channel when it launched in September 1992. We took over scripting the Newsfeeds (the equivalent of a 4-1/2 hour movie per year) in 1994 and continued until its cancellation in December 1996.

We did script and design for MATHQUEST WITH ALADDIN (Disney Interactive - 1997) with voices by Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters, and the same for The Interactive DARK HALF for Orion Pictures, based on the Stephen King novel, but this project was orphaned when MGM bought Orion. (It's officially vaporware now.) We even wrote a stageplay, "Syzygy," which opened in St. Augustine, Florida, in March, 2000.

I'm tired of talking about myself, so I'll close by saying that I live and work at the Jersey Shore where I'm usually pounding away on a new Repairman Jack novel and haunting eBay for strange clocks and Daddy Warbucks memorabilia. (No, we don't have a cat.)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
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See all 30 customer reviews
These are all good short stories.
I am currently about halfway through the book and I can't wait for the next story to begin.
Amazon Customer
A good read for anyone who enjoys Wilson's writing style and genre.
Colleen Ites

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have mixed feelings about this collection. On one hand, I want to applaud the design, commentary and stories Wilson has gathered in this volume. One might be tempted to use it to teach a course on writing. Wilson provides unique insight into the processes that gave birth to these tales, including even a play and teleplay. He also disperses throughout the introductions his personal experiences with the entertainment community. I think it's both insightful and fascinating. The caliber of work presented is a testament to Wilson's success as a "NY Times Best Selling Author." His selections cover a variety of genres, providing a vast supply of fuel for the reader's imagination. However, on the other hand does the average reader want all this extra material? True, they could skip that material, even the play and teleplay. Are they then getting their moneys worth? I believe they are. Fans of Wilson's Repairman Jack are sure to find THE BARRENS AND OTHERS a wickedly entertaining literary adventure. It is an exceptional collection of short prose that deserves a place on the shelf of both the leisure reader and aspiring/professional writer.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Daniel V. Reilly VINE VOICE on July 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Author F. Paul Wilson made a fan out of me with his stunningly original novel The Keep, a tale of Nazis facing Lovecraftian horror in a Romanian castle. I became a fan of his Repairman Jack character in The Tomb, a sequel to The Keep, and that led me to The Barrens and Others, where Jack makes a belated return in the story A Day In The Life. It's rare to find a really good short story collection, and this is Wilson's second; The first was the amazing collection Soft and Others.
The stories here include:
Feelings, where a greedy Lawyer learns empathy the hard way.
Tenants, which finds an escaped killer hiding out with an old man
and his VERY unusual boarders.
Faces, a different spin on the serial killer tale, concerning a
hideously deformed girl who kills beautiful people in a
truly gruesome manner. (These three stories all take place
in the town of Monroe, and tie in with Wilson's Adversary
Cycle, which began in The Keep.)
A Day In The Life features the return of Repairman Jack, and will
be a real treat for Jack's legions of fans. No
supernatural stuff, just straightforward action/adventure.
The Tenth Toe, a humorous take on black magic in the old west,
starring Doc Holiday and featuring Wyatt Earp.
Slasher is a crackerjack revenge yarn with a jaw-dropper of an
Definitive Therapy features DC Comic's Batman villain The Joker.
No Batman, no action, just The Joker and his new
shrink exploring the depths of madness in Arkham Asylum.
Wilson delivers another killer twist at the end.
Topsy is a short tale of gluttony revolving around a morbidly
obese man hospitalized after a fall at home.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on November 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read a bunch of novels by F. Paul Wilson and have always been reasonably satisfied with the results. Good novelists, however, are not always good short story writers, so when I picked up Wilson's collection The Barrens and Others, I was somewhat optimistic that I would enjoy it, but also ready for disappointment. Happily, this book exceeded my hopes.

The Barrens and Others is a collection of a dozen stories and a pair of short screenplays, along with some commentary by Wilson. Although some of these stories fit into his Repairman Jack/Adversary universe, they are all standalone. I won't describe all the stories, but among the standouts are Feelings (in which an ambulance chasing lawyer gets a rather unusual curse), A Day in the Life (which features Repairman Jack battling a group of extortionists), Slasher (dealing with a man's obsession with his daughter's killer), The Barrens (a Lovecraftian tale of people seeking too much knowledge) and Topsy (which has a massively overweight man poorly dealing with his condition).

The best in the bunch, however, is Definitive Therapy, all the better because it was one of the stories I had the least hope for. A tale of the Joker (from the Batman comics), I figured this would be just a minor work that would be part of a minor anthology of Joker stories. Instead, this is easily the most creepy of the stories in this collection. Definitive Therapy focuses on a psychiatrist trying to analyze the maniacal criminal. Such an effort is doomed, leading to a truly chilling conclusion.

Generally, Wilson is a consistent four-star writer, never exceptional but never disappointing either. This collection is an exception and gets the highest rating. Even if you've never read Wilson before, if you're any sort of horror fan, this is a must-read.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By on May 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who's read a word of F. Paul Wilson's has probably read everything they can get their hands on. THE BARRENS AND OTHERS should be no exception. This collection covers just a few years in the writer's life and stuns with each entry. A DAY IN THE LIFE is the consumate Repairman Jack story. FACES will thrill you more than the last dozen serial killer novels you've read. PELTS, both in story and play form, may make you gibber. Wilson has written many a short story in past several years not covered in this collection. Let's hope it's not too long before we're graced with another.
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