Although not biiled as a horror anthology, some of these stories are
up there with the creepiest I've ever read... hey, if it can give me chills
while I'm on my subway commute, that's pretty good!
With this collection, Mieville proves that he's equally a master of the
short story as of the sprawling labyrinths of his novels. He's probably
one of the best young writers today, in any genre.
The book includes:
* Looking for Jake
In a could-be-tomorrow London, the city has been the victim of a mysterious
invasion of invisible beings... the population has been worse than decimated...
and a young woman writes a letter to her missing lover...
Meshes the trials of a "house-whisperer" who does building inspections with
the horrors of war perpetrated in Iraq.
* The Ball Room
A classic ghost (?) story of a children's playroom in a store like Ikea, haunted
by a sinister presence. Told from the point-of-view of a security guard.
* Reports of Certain Events in London
This is a *great* story. Told in the first-person format popular in the 19th & early
20th century, it proposes that Mieville has received a package addressed to
'Charles Melville,' containing a number of documents from a secret society devoted
to researching occult phenomena involving the mysterious appearance and
disappearance of certain streets and roads... Brings the style and themes
utterly convincingly into the present day...
A modern-day back-alley witch creates a 'familiar' to enhance his power. But
when he rejects it, things swell far out of control.
* Entry Taken from a Medical Encyclopedia
Takes the German concept of an "earworm" (Ohrwurm) awfully seriously, with this
'alternate history' of an epidemic.
The narrator, a young boy, takes food from his mother to a housebound and eccentric old lady. But does she have a valid reason for shutting herself away from the world, into an empty room? A horrific take on the human tendency to see patterns....
* Go Between
A nondescript man follows mysterious and anonymous instructions, leaving
packages of mysterious origins and unknown content as he is told. But who is he
working for? What are the consequences? A very philosophical piece.
* Different Skies
An elderly man installs an antique stained-glass window - which leads to his being haunted by delinquent children of yesteryear.
* An End to Hunger
A sharp and ironic tale of a genius hacker who targets a liberal online charity -
and the consequences of his actions.
* 'Tis the Season
Wow! it's a happy, feel-good Christmas story! With some very funny, ironic commentary on the commercialization of the holiday.
Set in New Crobuzon (the grotesque and decadent city of Mieville's novels), the
story deals with a Remade who was a Robin-Hood-like figure to the city's underworld - until he was ratted out. Slightly gimmicky, but still an excellent story.
* On the Way to the Front
A short story in 'graphic' form. Could use a bit more text, in my personal opinion.
Soldiers on their way to or from battles are mysteriously seen on the streets and
buses of London. But where is the war? Who is fighting?
* The Tain
The novella takes us back to the milieu of the first story, but this time more is explained.
London has been invaded by the creatures from the other side of the mirrors... One man, seemingly immune from their ravages, has a plan... but is it too late for the city?
Inspired by a piece by Jorge Luis Borges.