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Crucified Dreams
edited by Joe R. Lansdale
Tachyon, 370 pages

Crucified Dreams
Joe R. Lansdale
Joe R. Lansdale has been a student of the martial arts for more than thirty years. In fact, his standard day is six hours at the typewriter, three hours at Lansdale's Self Defense Systems, the martial-arts studio which he owns and at which he teaches. His recent books include Zeppelins West and Flaming London. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas, with his wife, Karen, writer and editor.

Joe R. Lansdale Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Deadman's Road
SF Site Review: The God of the Razor
SF Site Review: Retro Pulp Tales
SF Site Review: Bumper Crop
SF Site Review: Bumper Crop

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

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Editors of anthologies featuring only original stories have to make the best of the solicited or unsolicited submissions they receive and select what they think are the most accomplished contributions.

On the other hand, when assembling reprint anthologies editors are free to include anything they deem to be suitable from the huge material already appeared in books and magazines. A great advantage indeed, especially when dealing with theme anthologies, but sometimes this great opportunity seems to get a bit wasted.

Joe R. Lansdale is a great writer and an experienced editor, but in the case of Crucified Dreams some of his choices leave me perplexed. First of all, the book is subtitled "Tales of Urban Horror" but there are stories which are neither urban nor horrific. Never mind... labels count precious little. Let's talk of quality, instead.

There are seven outstanding stories -- that I'll mention below and that fully justify the purchase of the book -- but the choice of the remaining twelve pieces is puzzling, considering how many other tales of "urban horror" were available. Go figure.

Looking at the bright side, Harlan Ellison rolls the ball with "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs," a splendid terrifying tale of "real" urban horror where the city becomes a demanding, evil deity hungry for human sacrifices.

David Morrell contributes "Front Man," a delicious noir portraying the hidden secrets of the Hollywood industry and the lethal effects of excessive ambition.

"The Evening and the Morning and the Night" by Octavia E Butler is a grim, superb tale depicting the effects of a drug-induced disease transmitted from parents to their offspring, bound to become social outcasts.

Lewis Shiner's "Love in Vain," an extraordinary piece, graced by a terrific storytelling, revolves around a serial killer whose murders weigh on the soul of a tormented investigator.

In the Nebula Award nominated "Window" by Bob Leman, a great SF tale with a distinct horrific taste, a window opening into a different reality shows a sinister, alien side of the universe.

"The Pit" by editor Joe R. Lansdale himself, is an extraordinary story of graphic, breathtaking violence, endowed with a perceptive view of a man's feelings before a terrible ordeal.

The anthology also includes "Quitter's Inc.," one of Stephen King's classical tales from his first collection Night Shift. But why this particular story from King's massive fictional output was chosen is anyone's guess.

Copyright © 2011 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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