cover image Diagnosis: Terminal: An Anthology of Medical Terror

Diagnosis: Terminal: An Anthology of Medical Terror

F. Paul Wilson. Forge, $23.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85972-5

Only two of the 14 authors tapped for this entertaining anthology of medical horror stories are celebrated in that subgenre: Stephen Spruill (Painkiller) and editor Wilson (Implant). The others are newer writers, those renowned in other regions of horror (Chet Williamson; Thomas F. Monteleone; Ed Gorman) or visitors from altogether different genres (Bill Pronzini; Ridley Pearson). So if there's less experimental writing here than in many contemporary horror anthologies, there's plenty of spark, with each author adapting his or her own specialty to medical horror, and only a whiff or two of the patterns established by the king of stethoscope shock, Robin Cook. Pronzini kicks off the collection with a moody evocation of a moralistic madwoman in the last century (""Angel of Mercy""). Williamson contributes a sardonic yarn (""Dr. Joe"") about a venal physician who gets involved in an insurance scam, while Pearson digs into his bag of crime-novelist tricks to create a gripping thriller novella about medical vengeance (""All Over But the Dying""). In the clever ""Petit Mal,"" high-tech SF writer Jack Nimersheim imagines programmable biological devices attacking their creator. Elsewhere, Bruce Holland Rogers's ""Wind Over Heaven"" tells the pleasantly macabre story of a restaurant owner who gets caught up in the world of alternative medicine. With all due respect to the diagnostic abilities of Wilson, who is a physician, the title of this book should be: Diagnosis: Robust. (July)