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Dark of the Night
edited by Stephen Jones
Pumpkin Books, 307 pages

Dark of the Night
Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones is likely the pre-eminent anthologizer working in horror fiction today. He has won two World Fantasy Awards, two Stoker Awards and ten British Fantasy Awards. Books he's done include Shadows Over Innsmouth, a Karl Edward Wagner collection: Exorcisms and Ecstasies, and Clive Barker's A-Z of Horror. He is co-editor of a number of series including Best New Horror, Dark Terrors and Dark Voices.

Pumpkin Books Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rodger Turner

Up front, I'd like to make a couple of admissions. One is that I don't read a lot of poetry. I skipped all the poetry bits in Roger Zelazny's Eye of Cat. I didn't much like the book but a friend said that was because I glided past all the poetry. My loss, I guess. The other is that I don't read much short fiction. Sure, I see a listing of a favourite author and I'll buy the book or magazine and read their story but I'll browse the rest of the stories. I like short fiction but most of my reading over the last twenty years or so was aimed at providing recommendations to customers in our book store (it's closed now).

Now it's your turn.

When was the last time you read a single-author collection or an anthology? That long, eh? How about a horror anthology? Really? And you thought I was bad. Maybe this is why we see so few of them from mainstream publishers anymore. But specialty publishers are still doing them. Why? Probably because most of the cutting-edge stuff first appears in anthologies and magazines. Someone once told me (or I figured it out by myself, I don't remember which) that if you want to see what's going to be in novels in three years, read the magazines and original anthologies. And, in over forty years of reading science fiction and fantasy, I'd have to say that has been proven to me time and again.

Dark of the Night is a anthology of original stories collected together by that talented anthologizer Stephen Jones and published by Pumpkin Books, a new publisher based in Nottingham, UK. Not all the stories were written for this book but they all carry a 1997 copyright date. It is a collection themed to "that time of the night between dusk and dawn when we are suddenly startled into wakefulness. When we lie there, staring up at the shadowshapes on the ceiling, while sleep continues to elude us."

Does Dark of the Night live up to this? You betcha.

Ramsey Campbell's "Kill Me Hideously" struck just the right note with his intriguing tale of a what lengths a fan will go to in order to be absorbed into a writer's work. Stephen King's Misery and Dean Koontz's Mr. Murder sprang to mind. Michael Marshall Smith's "Victoria's Secret" gave me serious shivers with his story of a woman who wakes up to find herself sharing her bed with a puzzlingly familiar body. And the stories rolled on. I was particularly struck by the deft touch of Paul J. McAuley in "The Quarry." For a writer best known for his science fiction, he sure knows how to scare a reader using the archetypal story of kids' brutality towards their playmates. Then Nicholas Royle matched it with his "who's the bad guy?" story in "Futility Room." However, my favourite turned out to be Kim Newman's "The End of the Pier Show" with his two heroes, Richard Jeperson, the Carnaby Street dandy, and his purple leather miniskirted, knee-high white booted colleague, Vanessa. Maybe it was because I'd just seen Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery or my generational crush on Emma Peel. Who knows. I was taken by the impish nature of the characters dealing with a touchy subject returning to haunt the residents of a British seaside town and the terror such a return could cause them. Finally, I read Jo Fletcher's evocative poem, "Dark of the Night." Geez, I thought the other stories made me tingle but reading that poem gave me a case of the willies reminiscent of the time I had to stay up all night with the lights on after reading Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot.

Table of Contents
Ramsey Campbell Kill Me Hideously
Michael Marshall Smith Victoria's Secret
Richard Christian Matheson Wyom...
Caitlín R. Kiernan Two Worlds, and in Between
Stephen Baxter Lines of Longitude
Roberta Lannes Good Girl
Paul J. McAuley The Quarry
Nicholas Royle Futility Room
Stephen Laws The Crawl
David Case Reflection
Jay Russell Waltz in Vienna
Kim Newman The End of the Pier Show
Christopher Fowler The Grand Finale Hotel
Douglas E. Winter The Zombies of Madison County
Jo Fletcher Dark of the Night

Copyright © 1998 by Rodger Turner

Rodger has read a lot of science fiction and fantasy in forty years. He can only shake his head and say, "So many books, so little time." More of his opinions are available on our Book Reviews pages.

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