Strange Tales: Volume V

Edited by Rosalie Parker. Tartarus (tartaruspress.com), $65 (280p) ISBN 978-1-905784-74-5
The fifth volume of this World Fantasy Award-winning anthology series features 17 new stories that celebrate the diversity of the fantastic spectrum and attest to Parker's exceptional taste. The best, Elise Forier Edie's "You-Go-Back," is a thought-provoking period dark fantasy about the havoc P.T. Barnum wreaks when he adds an authentic demon to the collection of curiosities housed in his American Museum in the 1860s. Both Steve Rasnic Tem, in "The Grave House," and David Rix, in "Henge," suggest hauntings without ever showing ghosts through the behavior of their main characters as they respond to peculiar phenomena in their surroundings. Several stories are creepily narrated in the first-person psycho, among them Andrew Apter's "The Man Who Loved Flies" and Tom Johnstone's "Look for the Place Where the Ivy Rises," and a number of tales veer into the realm of speculative fiction, notably Jacurutu:23's "Bardo Thodol Backup File," in which a character's ambition to back up his consciousness like a computer program estranges him from his own humanity. Most of the contributors to this volume will be unfamiliar to even the staunchest fans of fantastic fiction, and Parker (Strange Tales: Volume IV) has done a commendable job of introducing their uniformly well-written stories to readers. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/18/2015
Release date: 04/01/2015
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