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Horrors Beyond 2: Stories of Strange…

Horrors Beyond 2: Stories of Strange Creations

by William Jones (Editor, Contributor)

Other authors: A.A. Attanasio (Contributor), Greg Beatty (Contributor), Jay Caselberg (Contributor), Tim Curran (Contributor), William C. Dietz (Contributor)15 more, C.J. Henderson (Contributor), Paul S. Kemp (Contributor), Alexis Glynn Latner (Contributor), Richard A. Lupoff (Contributor), Paul Melniczek (Contributor), Gene O'Neill (Contributor), Stephen Mark Rainey (Contributor), Ekaterina Sedia (Contributor), Ron Shiflet (Contributor), John Shirley (Contributor), Lucien Soulban (Contributor), John Sunseri (Contributor), Michail Velichansky (Contributor), Robert Weinberg (Contributor), David Niall Wilson (Contributor)

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Some good short stories hidden in amidst the rest. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Horrors Beyond II is the latest offering by Elder Signs Press. This enterprising publisher has gone from strength to strength with every new book. HB2 is subtitled Stories of Strange Creations; the idea was to compile and anthology of dark fiction centered around devices. When I first heard that this title was on the drawing board I immediately thought about Kafka's The Penal Colony. While nothing here evoked such creepy crawlies in me, it was another resounding triumph for one of my favorite small presses. It seems the authors got quite a bit of latitude about what constituted a device and how they incorporated them into their story. I got a copy of the limited edition hardcover, which was $45 and is a gorgeous book. A trade paperback is available, more reasonably priced. The cover art by Dave Carson is magnificent, not specifically related to any story but wonderfully evoking the overall theme of the book. Page count was 333, with 8 pages of titles etc and 3 pages of authors' minibios at the end. Editing was by ESP workhorse William Jones. Unlike the usual flawless product from ESP I noticed a few typos, including substitution of the word sorceress for sorcerous. Also there was one big type setting flaw, where the text following page 306 appears on page 313. I do not know if this was an issue for the paperback. It was easy enough to figure out and did not interfere with my enjoyment of the book. I have a particular fondness for Cthulhu mythos fiction; HB 1 was not exactly a Lovecraftian athology although some of the stories were of direct interest to Lovecraft fans and others certainly had a Lovecraftian feel. HB2, to my read, was more straight up science fiction and related horror, but I am happy to note there were a few mythos tales. My bottom line is that HB2 was the best dark fiction anthology I have read in a long time. Here are the contents. All of these stories were new to me, and only A Family Affair had been printed elsewhere before. A few of these authors were represented in the original Horrors Beyond, but as ESP becomes more and more renowned they attract more widely published and respected writers than those who confine themselves to Cthulhu mythos fiction.

Isolation Point, California - John Shirley
Serenade - Lucien Soulban
Wyshes.com - Richard A. Lupoff
5150 - Gene O'Neill
The Signal - Paul Kemp
Fractal Freaks - A.A. Attanasio
Ghost Lens - Stephen Mark Rainey
Dead Air - David Niall Wilson
The Bigger They Are . . . - C.J. Henderson
The Margins - Robert Weinberg
Wormwood - Tim Curran
When the Ship Came - John Sunseri
The Manuscript in the Drawer - Greg Beaty
Spheres of Influence - Ron Shiflet
A Monster in the Lake - Michail Velichansky
The Clockmaker's Daughter - E. Sedia
Magic Fingers - Jay Caselberg
A Family Affair - William C. Dietz
The Mortification of the Flesh - Alexis Glynn Latner
Predicting Perdition - Paul Melniczek
When the Stars Fell - William Jones

John Shirley is a well established horror author. I am familiar with his Those Who Come to Dagon from High Seas Cthulhu; he also has a story in the forthcoming Cthulhian Singularity. Isolation Point, California is a wonderfully bleak story of post apocalyptic America where people dare not approach each other due to the effects of an unknown biological manipulation called the Aggression Factor...­but it is still natural to long for human contact...­

Lucien Soulban offers the story of most direct interest to Cthulhu mythos fans with Serenade, where a down and out Black Chamber operative is offerd the chance to decipher an encrypted message, which turns out to be a chant. Goodness me it was well written! I sure hope Mr. Soulban will give us more genre stories in the future.

Richard Lupoff is quite prolific; his Dreams.biz was a highlight from Hard Boiled Cthulhu. In Wyshes.com, a techno expert is asked to beta test a virtual reality world that is actually not virtual. Lupoff delivers again with a crackerjack good read.

The only mythos tale I know of from Gene O'Neil was Invasors de Suenos from the now unavailable Cthulhu Express. 5150 is named for the call code police receive for a deranged person. Unfortunately for the protagonist, a cop on the verge of retirement, has his own issues. I couldn't exactly figure out what was the strange device in this story but who cares? It was great, gritty and disturbing.

Paul Kemp's The Signal introduces Abe Gustafsson, a big mook who investigates demonic presences. This story has a nice hard boiled feel.

My copy of Twice Dead Things is out on loan, so I do not know if AA Attanasio's Fractal Freaks was printed there. This was a highly stylized story of vampires and demons hidden in plain sight, with aconflict spanning across time and unknown dimensions. I liked it well enough but not as much as I had hoped.

Stephen Mark Rainey is a well known dark fiction author and editor. I have liked just about every short story of his that I've read. Ghost Lens was another winner, describing a weird discovery that allows its user to see into the very fibers of a person's existence, making a mockery of modern medical imaging, and also allows the healing of all ills. But as you look through the lens, something looks at you, sizing you up...­One thing I like about Rainey's stories is that the characters are so well drawn, coming to life on the page.

David Niall Wilson has stories in The Last Continent and Shadows Over Baker Street. A decent read, Dead Air is a very brief story that shows how a much maligned shock radio DJ gets the last laugh.

CJ Henderson's The Bigger They Are... was unlike anything else by him I've ever read. It was an over the top time travel tale played mostly for humor. Lovecraft's Mi-Go make an appearance. OK enough, it didn't really jazz me, but then humor in horror anthologies almost never does.

Robert Weinberg edited the 1990 collection Lovecraft's Legacy. The Margins is a really good gory story featuring
extradimensional Hounds that travel through angles (Cthulhu mythos fans know these critters well!). Weinberg's take on them is very original and the prose is quite gripping.

Tim Curran's The Margins may well be the best story in this collection, although the competition is fierce! It is set in the contaminated area around Chernobyl, a very fertile area for dark fiction (or even noir crime fiction; Wolves Eat Dogs, the Arkady Renko novel was set there). I don't think I am amiss in saying it had very Lovecraftian sensibilities about science gone awry and a remorseless unfathomable alien. A masterpiece.

When the Ship Came shows the versatility of John Sunseri. Five-Mile Creek is a very ordinary town in Oregon, as we see from some slice-of-life vignettes of the inhabitants. There¡¯s no obvious reason why an alien ship would set down near there, or why they did what they did. I have yet to read a story by Mr. Sunseri I did not like.

The Manuscript in the Drawer by Greg Beatty is very brief, and features a book near and dear to the hearts of all Lovecraftans.

Spheres of Influence by Ron Shiflet would make a good episode from The Twilight Zone (I think I said this before about Mr. Shiflet's fiction; he should really try his hand at a screen play.). Mysterious metallic spheres drop from the sky. They are not benign meteorites. I am also struck again by the way his characters seem to come to life.

Michail Velichansky weighs in with another very bleak story, A Monster in the Lake, about a lonely man, isolated from the world who gives an alien creature permission to live in a lake in a park. It was absolutely terrific, with an ending to leave you squirming.

The Clockmaker's Daughter by E. Sedia was an unnerving tale about automatons. It was very nice counterpoint for me, as I had just read The Invention of Hugo Cabret to my sons.

The idea of being connected to the web in your head is as old as cyberpunk fiction. In Magic Fingers, Jay Caselberg gives us a less optimistic vision of how that reality may eventually turn out. I liked this story a lot.

A Family Affair by William C. Dietz reminded me of Jeffrey Thomas' Punktown. We meet Max Maxon, a hired goon, who gets involved in the deadly political machinations of a futuristic corporation. He has all the makings of a good hard boiled hero for a series of stories. Another terrific story, as this anthology moves from winner to winner.

The Mortification of the Flesh By Alexis Latner is an outstanding science fiction piece about how after centuries of having the galaxy to themselves, humans encounter a different form of sentience. After this wonderful piece I will have to seek out Ms. Latner's novel, Hurricane Moon.

Maybe Paul Melniczek's Predicting Perdition was the best story! It would also make an outstanding episode of The Twilight Zone. In a drained reservoir an metallic object is found that fills the mayor with a nameless dread. Marvelous!

Kudos to William Jones for editing a sensational anthology. His When the Stars Fell brings HB2 to a triumphant conclusion. Science fiction with a very Lovecraftian feel, apocalypse comes to humanity.

I can easily exhaust my superlatives in attempting to describe this anthology. It is another star in the firmament of Elder Signs Press. I highly recommend it to all fans of horror, science fiction, Lovecraftian fiction, dark fiction and just plain old good yarns. I can't wait to see what they come up with next! Bring on Horrors Beyond III! ( )
  carpentermt | Sep 26, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jones, WilliamEditor, Contributorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Attanasio, A.A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beatty, GregContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caselberg, JayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Curran, TimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dietz, William C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Henderson, C.J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kemp, Paul S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Latner, Alexis GlynnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lupoff, Richard A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Melniczek, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Neill, GeneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rainey, Stephen MarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sedia, EkaterinaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shiflet, RonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shirley, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Soulban, LucienContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sunseri, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Velichansky, MichailContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weinberg, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilson, David NiallContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0977987639, Paperback)

Featuring uncanny contraptions, weird devices, and technology beyond man's control, these 21 tales of dark fiction explore the horrors outside everyday reality. Mad science, terrifying creatures, and dangerous discoveries are stretched across time and space, ultimately showing that when science pushes the boundaries of understanding, terrible things push back.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:05 -0400)

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