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The Inner City Paperback – February 15, 2013
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Book Info: Genre: Dark fiction/short stories, anthology
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the strange, the dark, the macabre, the beautiful
My Thoughts: Usually when I review anthologies I'll put up a list of stories in the books and try to give a bit of info about them, but this particular anthology is all by the same author, so I'll just address the writing. Which is brilliant and creepy. Each of the stories is a brilliant gem, and each has a wonderfully strange or macabre or surprising ending. For those who enjoy the strange, the dark, the weirdly beautiful, these stories are definitely for you. Check this great little anthology out right away.
For more information about this book, please follow this link to see John Scalzi's Big Idea post about this book, which is very good. To purchase the book directly from ChiZine, you can click here (where formatting allowed) or on the cover image.
Disclosure: I received an ARC from ChiZine Publications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I also was part of the cover reveal, and that post can be seen here (linked where formatting allowed).
Synopsis: Heuler's stories dart out at what the world is doing and centre on how the individual copes with it.Read more ›
Strange stories? Yes. Yet the stories are told with wit and imagination. Some are dark, but even when things don't work out for the characters (really, if a fish wants to grant your wish, just walk away), the stories often reveal an underlying optimism.
Three stories stand out:
"The Great Spin" - When the Rapture comes, can the people who get left behind lay claim to all the stuff that belonged to the newly departed? And who will take care of their dogs? The irreverent kid who asks those questions (my kind of kid) may have been chosen for the Rapture -- or he may be a random victim of misfortune -- forcing his religious buddy to face a crisis of faith.
"Thick Water" - Explorers "go native" on an alien world, eating the thick water. A scientist left inside the dome, the only one left unchanged, wonders what to do.
"Beds" - Every day a bed disappears from a hospital ward, taken away on a truck, selected by doctors using unknown criteria. None of the patients want to be in that bed.Read more ›
There are a lot of dark stories out there, and a lot of recent collections, but many of them focus on creating worlds or situations and only a few of them, (say, Ian Rogers' "Every House is Haunted", or Robert Shearman's "Remember Why You Fear Me"), pay much attention to creating individual characters and exploring their reactions in any sort of engaging or probing way.
Maybe that's just the nature of the beast. As I was reading these I thought back to the first postmodern stories by authors like Donald Barthelme. Their writing was exquisite, their skewed worlds were disorienting, their sense of fantasy was razor sharp. But they were very detached works, almost exercises in cool avoidance of human attachment. Maybe there just isn't much room left in such stories for actual characters. But reading Ms. Heuler, maybe there is room.
Don't get me wrong. The stories in this book are not dry exercises or rigorous academic proofs. And they don't strain for profound insight. And they certainly aren't overwritten or full of MFA huffing and puffing. They are clever, imaginative, engaging and rewarding. That's a lot right there, and certainly enough to make this book worth a close look.
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to the author or the publisher of this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For a second while I was enjoying The Inner City, I traveled back in time 15 years and I found myself reading the Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Claudio Rdgz
I love the cover of THE INNER CITY. Chizine used the image for their banner at this year’s Readercon and when I saw it I was instantly pulled in. Read morePublished on December 20, 2013 by Christopher