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The Bleeding Edge
editors: William F. Nolan and Jason V. Brock
Cycatrix hardcover $64.95

review by Mario Guslandi

Should we wish to introduce the uninitiated to the horror genre by means of a single book, The Bleeding Edge would certainly be the tool to choose. This anthology assembles a number of short stories, scripts and teleplays (plus non-fiction; a nostalgic article by Frank M. Robinson, remembering the golden era of pulp magazines).

A veritable mixed bag featuring famous writers and less known horror writers under the same cover, the book showcases various aspects of horror fiction (including, much to my dismay, two samples of humorous horror by John Shirley and Christopher Colon). Some horror legends such as Ray Bradbury and the two Mathesons (father and son), make just a symbolic appearance, contributing negligible material.

Fortunately, other authors provide excellent, praiseworthy stories. This is especially true for Gary A. Braunbeck, whose A Certain Disquieting Darkness is a clever, splendid piece about 'bio-acoustics' with a distinct Lovecraftian tail, depicting sounds and music as instruments of horror. Joe R. Lansdale's The Boy Who Became Invisible is a short, chilling, extraordinary tale about a poor kid for whom life becomes so unbearable to turn into tragedy, while Lisa Morton's Silk City is a terrifying journey into the bowels of a dilapidated hotel, now inhabited by malevolent and venomous, giant spiders.

Cody Goodfellow provides At The Riding School, an obscure but vivid piece with a gothic undercurrent revisiting ancient Greek myths within an unsettling, modern frame. Other good stories are Love & Magick by James Robert Smith, an entertaining dark piece � la Robert Bloch, The Central Coast by Jason V. Brock, a grand guignol-esque, vivid tale where a very old bottle of red wine triggers a tremendous carnage, and De Mortuis by John Tomerlin, a graphic horror tale disclosing the complex truth behind a chain of serial murders.

I can't say that I care much for screenplays on the printed page (I prefer to watch them produced on the screen), so I'll just mention the inclusion of The Grandfather Clock by George Clayton Johnson, a Twilight Zone script where an old man's life is linked to the ticking of a clock, Norman Cowin's How It Feels To Murder, an insightful piece reporting the feelings of murderer, ruined by a weak ending and Omnivore by Dan O'Bannon, featuring giant, alien, hungry super-bugs.

I understand that a second volume is already in the pipeline. I trust that the editors, thanks to their undisputable good taste and experience in the field, after offering such a wide overview of the horror genre will focus even more on the quality of the included fiction, regardless of the authors' fame. Confident that they will, I'm looking forward to volume two.

The Bleeding Edge



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