cover image Personal Demons

Personal Demons

Christopher Fowler. Serpent's Tail, $13.99 (312pp) ISBN 978-1-85242-597-5

A damp, cold wind blows through these 17 resolutely British, chillingly cerebral horror stories. Fowler's (Roofworld, etc.) narrative locus--the moment when ""logical events lurch into alarming disarray, and all the human mind can do is try to cope""--is unbloodied but psychologically addled. The Orwellian story ""Wage $laves"" (recent winner of the British Fantasy Award) confirms our fears about technology when a ""smart building"" designed for perfect efficiency drives its occupants mad, forcing them to resort to the most drastic measures to reestablish equilibrium. Londoners facing a new Ice Age in the literally chilling ""Inner Fire"" find, after 22 years without warmth, that ""the milk of human kindness had been the first thing to freeze."" Although the author touches on the supernatural in almost half of the stories, the twilight zone in which his characters find themselves results from human nature and the darkness inherent in modern society. Fowler courts the unexpected in a way that brings the best of Ray Bradbury to mind; he is an accomplished poet of dark disquietude. (Nov.)