cover image The Dark Sea Within: Tales and Poems

The Dark Sea Within: Tales and Poems

Jason V Brock. Hippocampus, $20 trade paper (350p) ISBN 978-1-61498-194-7

Brock (Disorders of Magnitude) displays both imagination and superior writing ability in this collection of 20 short stories and poems that includes successful Lovecraftian pastiches, apocalyptic fiction, and understated tales of horror. Some of the works share subtle clues that they are set in the same unsettling universe. In “Windows, Mirrors, Doors,” the most moving entry, an older woman responds to the death of her twin sister and her coming to terms with leaving the world all alone. “The Man with the Horn” plays new variations on the theme of a reclusive musical neighbor, as a woman makes some surprising discoveries about a man known as Mr. Trinity after accidentally receiving, and then deliberately opening, his mail. Brock also incorporates the technical aspects of online role-playing games into the suspenseful plot of “Unity of Affect,” which features some clever and counterintuitive observations about how more realistic graphics can make suspension of disbelief harder. The range of his work is impressive: the volume includes a poem reminiscent of “Ozymandias,” as well as one in memory of journalist Daniel Pearl. (June)