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The Surgeon's Tale and Other Stories
Cat Rambo & Jeff VanderMeer
Two Free Lancers Press, 90 pages

Cat Rambo
Cat Rambo has burst onto the scene over the past few years, with stories appearing or soon to appear in Clarkesworld Magazine, Weird Tales, Asimov's SF Magazine, and Strange Horizons. She lives in Redmond, Washington and is currently finishing a novel.

Cat Rambo Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Jeff VanderMeer
Jeff VanderMeer was born in Pennsylvania in 1968, but spent much of his childhood in the Fiji Islands, where his parents worked for the Peace Corps. His books include The Book of Lost Places (Dark Regions Press), Dradin, In Love (Buzzcity Press), Dradin, In Love & Other Stories (Oxy Publishing, Greece), and The Early History of Ambergris (Necropolitan Press). He began the publishing house, Ministry of Whimsy, which has done a number of titles including The Troika, by Stepan Chapman which won the Philip K. Dick Award. Other work has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the British Fantasy Award. He lives with his wife Ann Kennedy, publisher and editor of Buzzcity Press.

Jeff VanderMeer Website
ISFDB Bibliography
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SF Site Review: Balzac's War
SF Site Review: Shriek: An Afterword
SF Site Review: City of Saints and Madmen
SF Site Excerpt: Shriek: An Afterword
SF Site Interview: Jeff VanderMeer
SF Site Review: Secret Life
SF Site Review: City of Saints and Madmen
SF Site Excerpt: The Mansions of the Moon
SF Site Excerpt: The Mimic
SF Site Interview: Jeff VanderMeer
SF Site Review: The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases
SF Site Review: Veniss Underground
SF Site Review: Leviathan Three
SF Site Review: City of Saints and Madmen
SF Site Interview: Jeff VanderMeer
SF Site Excerpt: City of Saints and Madmen
SF Site Review: City of Saints and Madmen
SF Site Review: The Exchange

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

The Surgeon's Tale and Other Stories A slim booklet of only 90 pages The Surgeon's Tale and Other Stories assembles five pieces of fiction created by Cat Rambo and/or Jeff VanderMeer.

Predictably the title story, a collaborative work by the two writers, is the highlight of the book, providing an excellent mix of horror and fantasy where an old surgeon reminisces about his years as a medical student and the daring experiment attempting to bring back to life the corpse of a young woman.

The experiment succeeds only partially and the man has the only living portion of the body -- an arm -- attached to himself. The tale reports, with delicacy, the affectionate relationship between the surgeon and the transplanted female arm, an offbeat love bond going to last forever.

"The Surgeon's Tale" is a bizarre but delightful and tender piece which will stay for a long time in the reader's mind.

Cat Rambo's "A Key Decides Its Destiny" is a cute fairy tale taking place during several decades and featuring an enchanter and his timid but clever apprentice sharing a cruel destiny.

If you care for dark humour, you will enjoy "The Strange Case of the Lovecraft Café" by M.F. Korn, D.F. Lewis & J. VanderMeer, a parody of lovecraftian themes and atmospheres revolving around a joint, to be destroyed by a fire, serving a rather peculiar menu.

The remaining short stories are brief, disappointing fillers. Cat Rambo provides "The Dead Girl's Wedding March," where, in the land of the dead, a girl is courted by a rat and "Three Sons" portraying a man who pretends to be the father of three ogres in order to use them as bodyguards.

VanderMeer, on the other hand, contributes "The Farmer's Cat" in which a "cat" keeps a bunch of mischievous trolls at bay.

In spite of the above poor material this little volume is worth its price thanks to the longest and more accomplished piece ("The Surgeon's Tale") and you shouldn't miss it, unless of course you're already a subscriber to Subterranean Magazine, the place where it was originally published.

And, in the final paragraphs of the story, there is a phrase that struck me as a quite proper lesson to the genre readers. '"The world is a mysterious place and no one knows the full truth of it even if they spend their whole life searching."

Copyright © 2008 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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