cover image The Purpose of Reality: Solar

The Purpose of Reality: Solar

Steve Simpson. Meerkat, $21.95 trade paper (194p) ISBN 978-1-946154-69-9

The 11 speculative shorts of Simpson’s inventive debut collection (published simultaneously with companion poetry collection The Purpose of Reality: Lunar) incorporate elements of horror, sci-fi, and weird fiction to envision the lives of people enduring apocalypses both personal and global. Set among the forests and favelas of contemporary Brazil, Simpson’s stories draw as often from regional folklore as from the author’s background in the sciences. While a handful reach for too many disparate elements to fully come together, the best—and most straightforward—combine ambitious concepts and chilling imagery. Highlights include “The Medusa,” in which a woman’s attempt to curse the man who assaulted her inadvertently calls down a wind that strips the flesh from people’s bodies, and “Reliquaries,” in which a man follows his wife on a pilgrimage into an irradiated no-man’s-land bringing offerings to an eldritch goddess. The standout final story, “Danta in Black,” whose ill-starred protagonist wakes each day in a new reality, provides an exceptional close to the collection as a whole. Punctuated by the author’s own haunting illustrations, this is ideal for weird-fiction readers seeking something a little different. (Sept.)