cover image Cryptopolis & Other Stories

Cryptopolis & Other Stories

Robert Guffey. Lethe, $23 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-59021-768-9

Guffey (Dead Monkey Rum) brings together 25 horror shorts that swing wildly between terrifying mindtrips and gritty realism. Throughout, Guffey’s blunt prose lends a sense of normalcy to the fantastic as his cast of losers from all walks of life face the cruelties of their existence—sexual violence, drugs, war, parenthood, and poverty. Notable are the grotesque satirical works, including “The Detective with the Glass Gun,” the pulpy and disgusting tale of a girl held captive by her rapist in a world where sex involves plugging oneself into a vacuum, and “Adventures in the Head Wound,” in which stoners unearth the sexual occult history of the JFK shooting. Elsewhere, a preachy pamphlet advises women pregnant with origami babies (“Selections from The Expectant Mother Disinformation Handbook”), a man’s tattoos start to dance (“The Advertising Man”), and a pink gorilla rides the bus (“On the Bus”). Guffey has biting political points to make in such stories as “The Wound of Glass,” where Gulf War syndrome manifests in body horror. Other selections return to the quotidian, grounding readers in the horror of everyday life: “Destroy All Monsters” follows comedians as they experiment with drugs, while “The Couch” centers on the stress of redecorating. Though not for the faint of heart, this bizarre and over-the-top collection is sure to thrill devotees of weird fiction. (Jan.)