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Book Title: Darkside: Horror for the Next Millenium|
The author of the book: John Pelan
ISBN 13: 9780451456625
Date of issue: January 1st 1998
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 699 KB
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Reader ratings: 6.3
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John Pelan (ed.), Darkside: Horror for the next Millennium (Roc, 1996)
First off: there are a slew of really awful reviews for this book out there. Most of them seem to have some of their criticisms in the right place (the subtitle is utterly meaningless being the most common that actually has a shred of validity). The rest of them seem to require a quick history of horror. Recent horror, especially, but that known as "splatterpunk" is nothing new. The complainers might do well to go back and read some of the more visceral work from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries before talking about how wonderful it is that old horror is still on the shelf instead of this dreck.
There are two schools of horror now. This is most obvious in the Japanese film industry, but they both seem alive and well in the American horror story, too. There is the atmospheric, spooky horror (aka JNH in the Japanese film industry), and then there is the extreme horror (aka the Guinea Pig movement, in honor of the series of extreme horror films of that name). Extreme horror rose to prominence in America in the eighties on the wings of authors like Ed Lee, Ray Garton, and Candace Caponegro; it has been the strongest direction in which horror has gone since, especially with the publication of the seminal, brilliant anthology Splatterpunks.
Darkside should, rightly, have been Splatterpunks III. Only a few of the stories would have seemed out of place, and the complainers would have known to steer clear.(Oh, horrors. Your fourteen-year-old got his hands on a copy and you took it away from him. If HE doesn't have a problem with the subject matter and YOU do, have you ever stopped to consider it's not your child's psyche that is the problem here?) The truly memorable stories here would get their due; especially chilling are Lauren Fitzgerald's "Wasting," Edward Lee's now-infamous tale 'The Stick Woman," and Sue Storm's "Having Eyes, See Ye Not?" (especially amusing as I write this, as some bonehead inspired by a recent film tried to do exactly the same thing a few days ago). The JNH-style stories, in standing out as different from the rest, would get even more due than they have (the book's opener, Robert J. Levy's "Skinwriters," is crafted with a precision that beings to mind Richard Christian Matheson's immortal story "Red", and Brian McNaughton's "ystery orm"is far more a Thomas Ligotti story than Ligotti's own contribution here). I'd still have to wonder what two of the book's last three stories are on about (Ligotti's "The Nightmare Network," which is still unfathomable upon second reading, and t. Winter-Damon and Randy Chandler's boring, overly-messaged "...And Thou Hast Given Them Blood to Drink," a piece cut from their novel Duet for the Devil).
Flashes of real genius here are rare, as they are in most anthologies; Levy is definitely a writer to watch, as are McNaughton and Adam-Troy Castro, among others. Some of the heavy hitters bring out decent material, as well. Along with Lee, Wayne Allen Sallee definitely delivers the goods (a very short monologue from the point of view of Timothy McVeigh), and Jack Ketchum and Lucy Taylor deliver good, solid work, if nothing groundbreaking. Some of the other stories fall flat (surprisingly, Caitlin R. Kiernan's is one of them; rare is the Kiernan story that is not perfect), and some of the young writers notorious in their absence here may take some of the luster away (notably, Poppy Z. Brite was still a neophyte when this came out).
Final call: some good, some bad. You always have to wade through the swine, but the pearls are worth it; "Skinwriters" alone is worth the cost of admission here, everything else is icing on the cake. ***
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