Burnt Black Suns

Simon Strantzas. Hippocampus (www.hippocampuspress.com), $20 trade paper (310p) ISBN 978-1-61498-083-4
In this powerful new collection of short stories, fallible characters trip over their feet of clay and sprawl into encounters with horrors beyond their comprehension. "One Last Bloom" tells of a graduate student in microbiology who's so obsessed with staying ahead of an academic rival that it blinds him to the enormity of a horror that's gradually overwhelming their laboratory. "Emotional Dues" concerns a painter inspired by his hatred of his domineering father and the insidious parasitic relationship that develops between him and a wealthy art patron. In the title story, a man pursues his ex-wife to Mexico to retrieve their young son from the cult she has joined, only to discover that what he has mistaken for a simple case of domestic family abduction is part of an elaborate ritual to bring something unholy from the dawn of time back into the world. Strantzas (Nightingale Songs) nimbly balances sympathetic characters humanized by their flaws with horrors on a cosmic scale so vast that they mock the very notion of human significance. The 10 stories in this book abound with references to the work of H.P. Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti, and Robert W. Chambers, and Strantzas deftly demonstrates his ability to hold his own with them. (May)
Reviewed on: 07/21/2014
Release date: 05/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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