A varied and interesting collection of sci-fi/horror tales, with the accent undoubtedly leaning towards the scary. On my Goodreads page, I reviewed each of the stories as I came to it, but since that would look cumbersome on this big expanse of a blog post, I’m just instead picking out my top five.
It’s a cracking collection! Obviously not every tale hits home, but the ones that do really smack the centre of the target.
Spend it now, pay later
The first in the collection is an entertaining grisly satire on the financial crisis and debt bubble, wherein a young woman offers her limbs as collateral for a loan. Obviously, there is no way this is going to end well, but I like the way Morton handles the fatalism in a crisp, no nonsense manner, which really makes the gruesomeness of it hit home.
On A Shout
One of those great examples of a short story I just wish was longer. There’s so much crammed in there, so much beautifully evoked, that even though it has a perfect economy of scale as a short story, I’d have happily read the same material novel length. I don’t want to give much away, but essentially it’s survivor guilt in a nuclear war and it’s brilliant!
Man’s Best Friend
That Alfred Hitchcock maxim of suspense not being the bomb exploding, but instead seeing the bomb and knowing it might explode, is in full play here. Dogs start to randomly attack their owners and passers-by. Our protagonist is also a canine lover, with his own beloved Alsatian, and the tale is one of waiting and waiting for what must surely be a grisly conclusion.
The Rostron Ultimatum
An astronaut messages back from The Moon demanding The President’s resignation, which is frankly one hell of a set up for an entertaining story. The President of the story is a hard-core evangelical Christian, but reading it I couldn’t help imagining the current occupant of the White House and what would ensue if he was the main character.
Within minutes of the demand there would be a tweet about low ratings for Moon broadcasts, he’d swiftly suggest that Crooked Hilary had done worse than he had ever done, blame the media for maligning him and the batshit craziness would just pile on from there. Something for Morton to think about, in fact, if he’s tempted to write a 2017 version.
A Gigantic Leap
Nik ends on the best story in the collection. Yes, it’s alien bacteria premise might seem a little derivative, but the Soviet setting makes a refreshing change – particularly as it’s not railing against the system, just two people getting on with their lives. It’s an incredibly tense piece, but one that leans more to hope than tragedy. And hope is always a good way to end a big, impressive collection like this.
Fancy a FRJ short tale? There’s one available free right here.