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Fungi Kindle Edition
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- Publication Date : November 16, 2012
- File Size : 691 KB
- Print Length : 344 pages
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Innsmouth Free Press (November 16, 2012)
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- ASIN : B00A8UZVEW
- Simultaneous Device Usage : Unlimited
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #269,981 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book starts off well with John Langan’s Hyphae, in which John goes home to find out how his father is doing now that his mother has left. Though the place seems perfectly clean, it gives off a horrific stench. When John follows this to the basement and a tunnel dug out into the earth, you know things can’t possibly end well. This one was short, bizarre, and creepy, just the way I like ’em. A little later in the book, Kristopher Reisz’s The Pilgrims of Parthen involves a strange mushroom that’s started popping up. It enables people to visit a mysterious, seemingly uninhabited city, and users become obsessed with finding out the city’s secrets. I also liked Goatsbride, by Richard Gavin. It tells the tale of a dying old god and what happens when invaders come to his land. One of my favorites in here was Laird Barron’s Gamma. It’s a very unusual road to telling a tale of the fungal takeover of the world, and it made me shudder. Cordyceps Zombii, by Ann K. Schwader, is an elegant and intriguing poem.
Paul Tremblay’s Our Stories Will Live Forever involves a man who’s afraid of flying who takes an ill-fated flight. The man next to him gives him something, saying, “take this if you want to live.” This is a fascinating story with an intriguing run-on style. A.C. Wise’s Where Dead Men Go to Dream sees Jonah going to a woman who “sells dreams” in order to find out what happened to his missing lover, and the results are fascinating. Daniel Mills’s Dust from a Dark Flower tells us a tale of a 1700s village in which gravestones have started to disintegrate precipitously into spores, and the spores aren’t content to stop there. The Shaft through the Middle of It All, by Nick Mamatas, explores a bit of vengeance wrought by a woman when her community garden gets torn down for a gentrification project. Note that the main character does refer to some characters by slurs, although it seems that this is a case of characterization rather than author editorialization.
The second story, Lavie Tidhar’s The White Hands, totally jarred me. The atmosphere was about as different as you could get from the first tale, and it isn’t my cup of tea. It’s a collection of… maybe encyclopedia entries? It details various organisms and events and places, gradually laying out a strange world in which the “Human-Fungi Accord of 945” seems to have been followed by quite a few years of strange events, like a pirate captain (half-human, half-fungus) called “Scarlet Hood,” and the rise of a deadly empire. It’s… interesting. Camille Alexa’s His Sweet Truffle of a Girl struck me similarly. In it, Morel has created, through the abilities of Dr. Crimini, a living, organic, puffball submersible. His goal is to impress the father of Amanita, the girl he loves–only the maiden voyage doesn’t go as planned. Molly Tanzer and Jesse Bullington wrote Tubby McMungus, Fat from Fungus. The main characters are cats, a rat, and some bats, and Tubby himself is a merkin-maker (a maker of pubic wigs). A wager results in Tubby stealing some strange materials to make the very best merkin out of, resulting in terrible consequences. Yes, cats with pubic wigs. I don’t even know what to say. I’ll give it to the authors–this has to be the most creative tale in here, and that’s saying something.
Andrew Penn Romine’s Last Bloom on the Sage was in-between for me. It’s a depiction of “the spore-changed West”, where Duke Winchester is working with tentacled beyonder Legs McGraw to rob a train. It has a touch of horror to it, but it’s still kind of whimsical and humorous. Jeff VanderMeer’s Corpse Mouth and Spore Nose is another in-between: it’s definitely creepy, but the ending is fairly silly. Still, the writing style drew me in. A Monster in the Midst, by Julio Toro and Sam Martin, involves a man and his automata tracking down the source of a globe-spanning fungal infection. It has a bit of that larger-than-life steampunk vibe to it, and it feels incompatible with the style of horror I was looking for. Chadwick Ginther’s First They Came for the Pigs sees a wealthy man trying to hire people to deal with the fact that all of his people are turning up killed by fungal growths. He goes with several men underneath the city, where he comes face-to-face with something awful. Ian Rogers’s Out of the Blue sees a real estate agent for haunted properties teaming up with a detective who works on supernatural cases. This story is a bit predictable, but fun to read–and it hints at a wider world that I’d like to read about.
Steve Berman’s Kum, Raúl (The Unknown Terror) is a nice tale of a fungal terror in Mexico, but the presentation is dry and straightforward, robbing it of that frisson of horror. I enjoyed the not-so-horrific tale of Wild Mushrooms, by Jane Hartenstein, in which a cancer-stricken mushroom hunter goes into the woods to die, but it felt like it sort of stumbled to a halt. It’s nice and poignant, however. Lisa M. Bradley’s The Pearl in the Oyster and the Oyster Under Glass pulled me in, but I’m still not sure what to make of it. Main character Art is a bear? Or not a bear but wants to be a bear? Or not a bear but a phantom bear? Anyway, the tale involves cleaning up an oil spill using mushrooms. It’s kind of surreal, but it does avoid being excessively random, which tends to be a peril of surreal writing. Go Home Again, by Simon Strantzas, is an odd tale of a young woman coming to terms with her father’s death and her mother’s disappearance. It feels like it could have been pared down a little, but it’s an interesting read.
Some of the stories read like the authors decided to try out some hallucinatory mushrooms before they started writing! Midnight Mushrumps, by W.H. Pugmire, reads this way to me. I don’t even know what to say about it. Polenth Blake’s Letters to a Fungus is a delightfully hilarious piece made up of letters by one of those people who sees themselves as being the neighborhood HOA police, constantly writing letters and making complaints about everything. In this case, she has some complaints about the fungal growths in her garden (although I can’t blame her for making a fuss when they eat Aunt Mabel).
Overall I’m glad I read this anthology, but I’m also glad it wasn’t priced very high. Hopefully now that you’ve read this you have a slightly better idea than I did of whether this would suit your tastes.
However, this becomes a weakness as nothingelse connects, not style, not genre, not tone. There is a heavy skew towards darker fiction because that circle is where the authors typically roam. But i found the other stories to not fit, or seem placed or just not wlrking for me. I ended up skipping most of those stories and reading the big names. Maybe its just aesthetic taste, but i certainly feel like this anthology could have benfitted from greater direction.
I've said before that original anthologies are usually a mixed bag, and for the most part that remains the case. Therefore, it's a special thing when one comes out that manages to be great throughout. Innsmouth Free Press, a Canadian "micro-publisher", has already produced some quality anthologies. Historical Lovecraft and Future Lovecraft both have a spot on my bookshelf, and were quite satisfying. Fungi, their latest anthology, stands as their best work yet.
The brilliant cover by artist Oliver Wetter blends strangeness and beauty, and gives an idea of what's to be found within the pages. Fungi itself is such an interesting species, and days could easily be spent reading about different types that are strange enough on their own without having to be fictionalized. Editors Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Orrin Grey wisely saw the potential of such a theme, and have compiled together a variety of tales. The stories themselves range from horror to fantasy. Some are dark, some are silly, some are chilling and some are just plain fun. The paperback edition contains twenty-two stories and a poem, while the deluxe hardcover edition includes three extra stories and ten black and white illustrations by Bernie Gonzalez.
Some (there are many) stories that I particularly enjoyed:
Hyphae, by John Langan, opens the anthology. It's a good, solid horror story like I've come to expect from this author.
Lavie Tidhar is an author who writes beautiful short fiction. The White Hands reads like an excerpt from a weird encyclopedia detailing a mushroom world. Although not a typical, narrative story, it's quite captivating.
Camille Alexander is an author that I'm not familiar with, but His Sweet Truffle of a Girl showcases her talent. The story is about a man on a "fungal submarine", on a mission to win over his heart's desire. It's a weird, sad tale.
The next story, Last Bloom on The Sage by Andrew Penn Romine, is a fast-paced weird western. This could be one of the weirdest westerns I've read, as it seems to add steampunk, magic, and Lovecraftian creatures into the mix. Romine writes a rip-roaring train heist filled with action and strangeness, yet hinting at a much larger world. This is one of my favorite stories, and I'd love to see more stories set in the world Romine has created.
Another favorite is The Pilgrims of Parthen by Kristopher Reisz. It's a beautiful, chilling tale of a special type of mushroom that causes shared hallucinations. Reisz manages to write a tale that could also work as a metaphor for real life drug addiction, and shows just how obsessed and dependent people can become. Parallels can be seen to Lovecraft's A Shadow Out of Time and tales by Clark Ashton Smith. All in all, one of the best stories in the anthology.
W.H. Pugmire's Midnight Mushrumps (my second favorite story title) is typical of Pugmire's work. The prose is dreamy and decadent and the story is quite haunting. Any fan of weird fiction or eerily beautiful prose should mark Pugmire as a must-read.
No weird, fungal anthology would be complete without a story by Jeff Vandermeer. The author/editor is, without a doubt, the King of Fungi. Corpse Mouth and Spore Nose revisits his fictional city of Ambergris (which is explored in his previous brilliant works: The City of Saints and Madmen, Shriek: An Afterword, and Finch). This short story involves a detective coming to the city of Ambergris on a job, but finding more than he bargained for. The story is weird at its best with some disturbing visuals and elements of body horror.
Goatsbride, by Richard Gavin, is another beautifully written story. Although I found the fungus element to play quite a small role, I loved this story. It explores primal lust in a village reminiscent of a religious, conservative settler town. Gavin is highly talented, and balances fluid prose and brilliant imagery to weave a tale that is not easily forgotten.
Molly Tanzer and Jesse Bullington show what's possible when two impishly warped minds come together. Tubby McMungus, Fat From Fungus (favorite story title - obviously) is easily the weirdest, funniest, most memorable tale (tail?) in the anthology. Anthropomorphic animals, scheming nobles, fungus, and merkins come together in a story that will not soon be forgotten. Fungal fun for the furry in all of us.
Where Dead Men Go To Dream by A.C. Wise is a dark tale of anguish and loss. There is some beautiful imagery to be found in a tale of mushrooms and dreams.
Daniel Mills recently caught my attention with a brilliant story in A Season in Carcosa. With Dust From a Dark Flower, Mills uses fungus in a more traditional weird horror style. Mills is quickly becoming a new favorite of mine.
Nick Namatas brings us a tale of an urban housing project's garden, and the hope it brings to the neighborhood before taking a darker turn in The Shaft Through the Middle of It All. Namatas paints a very convincing urban picture in a stand out tale.
Go Home Again showcases Simon Strantzas many talents. The melancholy story is full of beautiful, dark imagery, coming together for a hopeful ending.
And ending the anthology (for the paperback readers) is a powerful tale by Laird Barron. Gamma is a disturbing, spine-chilling tale. It works as an example of how literary, powerful, and brutal Barron's stories can be, adding another example of how he is the Cormac McCarthy of the weird. A perfect closing story.
There are several other fun stories as well, Julio Toro San Martin spins a steampunk yarn, Lisa M. Bradley writes an intriguing environmental tale where not everything is as it seems, Polenth Blake pens a hilarious little ditty, Ian Rogers brings back his recurring paranormal investigator Felix Renn in a supernatural noir, and Chadwick Ginther brings fungus into the realm of Sword and Sorcery.
Also of note are the three additional stories available in the hardcover edition. Catherine Tobler writes a poetic, gloomy tale of a ruined earth, while J.T. Glover and Claude Lalumière bring light-hearted, funny tales to the table. The three stories together are totally worth the extra money.
Fungi is definitely an anthology any fan of the weird should get ahold of. There is just so much offered in terms of content that it is entertaining throughout. Also, the hardcover is worth dishing out the extra dollars for. Not only would I dub this anthology "highly recommended", I would even go so far as to say it's my pick for best original anthology of the year.