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The Impelled & Other Head Trips
Gary Fry
Crowswing paperback £10

review by Sean Parker

It's all in the mind. Well, almost all. Gary Fry has a background in psychology (something he shares with several of his characters) and he uses this to good effect in the 18 tales contained here. The prose style is cool and unruffled, the events and dramas recounted in a restrained manner, and this makes them all the more effective. This is horror that dosn't scream in your face, it whispers to you as you are falling asleep.

As Ramsey Campbell suggests in his introduction, the shadow of Poe hangs over this collection, but updated for the world of today. Nowadays, all the mental torments and neurotic tics have names, causes. Saying that, the supernatural does raise its ugly, unknowable head on several occasions (in, for example, The Haunted Doll's House, whose title is a nod in the direction of one of the other old masters of the genre) and this works just fine too. Whatever the cause, psychological or otherworldly, the desired effect is achieved.

The stories all all based in the world of today, or at least yesterday. The Impelled has its own 20th century favourite, the serial killer, Single Hit features a rap-star and his former teacher (and is possibly my personal favourite in the collection - if Mr Fry has not seen Sid Vicious performing My Way on video, he should have a look!), there's a story that takes the form of a dryly written unpublished psychology paper (0.005) which echoes the themes of Matheson's The Distributer, and Campbell's A Street Was Chosen. Elsewhere, clumsy prose is given a good talking to when a horror writer meets the monsters he has accidentally spawned, LSD takes it role as the old standby as instant mind-mangler, e-mails lead to terrible happenings, hidden lives are unveiled and a boy has a terrifying, life changing experience at Blackpool.

A first collection that is well worth a look. If you like your horrors varied, occasionally spiced with a slither of sly humour and under-pinned with a interest in the workings of that unreliable biological machine we lug about with us in our skulls, then you could do much, much worse than reading this.
The Impelled and Other Head Trips

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