cover image Future Tense: Tales of Apocalyptic Vision

Future Tense: Tales of Apocalyptic Vision

Michaelbrent Collings. Written Insomnia, $14.99 trade paper (390p) ASIN B09W786VX5

Collings (Malignant) chills in nine horror shorts that consistently twist and turn, never going in the direction the reader expects. In the cryptically named opener “Jingle All the Way,” a suicidal woman in a conformist dystopia participates in experiments on clones. The elderly agoraphobic heroine of “Lucid Dreams” sees strangers’ faces in her bathroom mirror then lives out their lives in her nightly dreams. Collings himself appears in the wacky “The Shortest Con,” where he plays poker with a ghoul, a troll, and a witch at a comic convention. The powerful postapocalyptic “Button Man” asks what punishment should befall the person responsible for the end of the world. In “That’ll Sell,” a satire of convoluted science fiction plots, a book’s character visits the avaricious author who makes his life a living hell. The most unnerving of the bunch, “I Am an Ocean,” takes readers to a dystopia run by an omniscient artificial intelligence that keeps humans in thrall and punishes anyone who longs for a better life. The novella, “The Stranger Inside,” will be of special interest to Collings’s fans, as it later became the basis for Collings’s I Am Legion series. Collings has an intuitive sense of what will scare; his disquieting stories are sure to leave readers unsettled. (Self-published)