cover image Fantastic Americana

Fantastic Americana

Josh Rountree. Fairwood, $17.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-933846-16-3

Rountree demonstrates impressive range in his wild debut collection of 21 speculative shorts. Unusual juxtapositions create striking tales, as in “All My Pretty Chickens,” about a man nervously anticipating his grandchild’s trip to Mars in a world in which chickens have returned from the dead as ghosts, and the fragmented “Cigarette Lighter Love Song,” which melds romance and magical time travel. In “Rewind,” a slacker lopes through his job at a video rental store in a postapocalyptic world populated by monsters. Fans of alternate history will enjoy “Can’t Buy Me Faded Love,” wherein John Lennon comes to the U.S. to become a country music star, and “Best Energies,” in which George Washington, immortal thanks to the fountain of youth, leads the U.S. to victory in WWII but faces pressures from the independent Republic of Texas. Rountree also visits classic Hollywood (“The Beautiful People”), a dystopian corporation (“Fury’s Hour”), the life of Paul Bunyan (“Chasing America”), and werewolves in the Old West (“February Moon”). The result is as inventive as it is eclectic, and perfect for dipping in and out of. Though not every story will connect with every reader, the variety of genres and subjects ensure there’s something here to tickle all manner of fancy. [em](Aug.) [/em]