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Stephen Jones – Mammoth Book Of New Terror

Posted by demonik on September 8, 2007

Stephen Jones (ed.) – Mammoth Book Of New Terror (Robinson, 2004)

John Picacio

Stephen Jones – Introduction: Recreating The Terror

Brian Lumley – Fruiting Bodies
Charles L. Grant – Needle Song
Christopher Fowler – Turbo-Satan
Dennis Etchison – Talking In The Dark
Sydney J. Bounds – The Circus
F. Paul Wilson – Foet
Basil Copper – The Candle In The Skull
Ramsey Campbell – The Chimney
Phyllis Eisenstein – Dark Wings
Graham Masterton – Reflections Of Evil
E. C. Tubb – Mirror Of The Night
Brian Mooney – Maypole
Terry Lamsley – Under The Crust
Lisa Tuttle – Tir Nan Og
R. Chetwynd-Hayes – A Living Legend
David J. Schow – Wake-Up Call
Karl E. Wagner – The Fourth Seal
Tanith Lee & John Kaiine – Unlocked
Neil Gaiman – Closing Time
Pat Cadigan – It Was The Heat
Tim Lebbon & Brian Keene – Fodder
Michael Marshall Smith – Open Doors
Caitlin R. Kiernan – Andromeda Among The Stones
Glen Hirshberg – Flowers On Their Bridles, Hooves In The Air
Kim Newman – Amerikanski Dead At The Moscow Morgue or: Children Of Marx And Coca Cola
David Case – Among The Wolves

Charles L. Grant – Needle Song:When the ancient lady first moved into the ‘haunted house’ at 136 with her spartan possessions, it seemed as though she’d brought good fortune with her. The neighbourhood prospered:

“The snowmen were bigger, the snow forts more elaborate and Eric’s father came home twice with promotions and once with a car big enough to hold thousands … Eric discovered he had a natural talent for musical instruments … and his teacher told him in all honesty that one day he would be famous. Jackie Potter’s family won a state lottery … and there seemed nothing at all wrong in standing by the front window and listening to the piano drawing them closer … It wasn’t that way any more, and it was all because of a vampire witch who sucked them dry with her music.”

Eric and Caren are wise to the old girl’s intentions and attempt to defeat her in psychic conflict.

At turns reminiscent of Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick’s The Cookie Lady.

Sydney J. Bounds – The Circus: Arthur Bragg, a reporter whose career has been dedicated to exposing hoaxes and phonies, chances upon a travelling circus when his car breaks down in the West Country. The handwritten poster reads; “Before your very eyes, werewolf into man! See the vampire rise from his coffin! Bring the children – invest in a sense of wonder!”
Dutifully, the Sunday Herald scribe attends the event, and it is a truly spectacular show. Along with the advertised attractions, ringmaster Dr. Nis introduces a mummy and an animated corpse.

After the performance, an outraged Bragg confronts Dr. Dis in his caravan. He is not unexpected.

Basil Copper – The Candle In The Skull: Little Kathy is blabbering on about how she’s going to have a skull for Halloween, but her father Martin isn’t listening – he never does, not having any time for the child who seems in some way uncanny. Besides, the brilliant scientist is preoccupied with his women trouble. Of late Janet has threatened to call at the house and make a scene in front of his wife Charlotte. There’s only one thing for it: Charlotte will have to “disappear” and then the wretched Kathy can be put into care.
Hearing a noise in his laboratory, he sneaks up on his wife from behind and bashes her with an iron bar, then dumps the corpse into the acid tank before returning to his room. But later, when he comes to, he hears Charlotte calling to him: has he only dreamt that he murdered her?
Rushing to investigate, he takes a header down the cellar steps …

Kathy shows off her prize skull to her mother before setting out for trick or treat mischief. “Don’t you think it looks like Auntie Janet?” she innocently enquires …

Pat Cadigan – It Was The Heat: New Orleans. At a hotel in the French quarter, a thirty-five year old businesswoman is seduced by a loa. Consequently, she is always freezing. She summons back her demon lover by sitting in the fire.

Michael Marshall Smith – Opening Doors: Whenever the protagonist likes the look of a house, he knocks at the door, overpowers whoever answers and moves in, taking the identity of the husband or boyfriend. He’s fed up posing as a TV repairman – he can’t hack the job anyhow – so another change of scenery is in order.

Christopher Fowler – Turbo-Satan: “Tower Hamlets, toilet of the world, arse-end of the universe … no money, no dope, no fags, no booze, nothing to do, nowhere to go, no-one who cared if he went missing for all eternity … I have absolutely nothing to look forward to … I hate my life …”

My first thoughts on reading this was “some bastard’s been reading my diary!”, but then I remembered I don’t keep one and besides, this is well written. It’s Fowler’s updating of the Deal with the Devil motif for the digital age with phony art student Mats discovering a hot-line to Satan on his mobile. At first, he makes a few sensible requests – “make the bus driver give me £10”, etc. – but blows it when he starts trying to be clever.

F. Paul Wilson – Foet: It’s the must-have fashion accessory and, for all her anti-abortion campaigning, Denise is not going to be left behind.

David Case – Among The Wolves: Another excellent Case novella, this one revived from the mighty Fengriffen And Other Stories: While researching the habits of wolves in the wild, ecologist Edward Claymore lost a leg when it was caught in a bear trap. Prior to hacking it off, he spent hours surrounded by the pack but showed sufficient guts and will to live for them to leave him be. The incident has coloured his thinking as to how society should deal with its burdens, the infirm, the weak and retarded. Is he in some way connected with the recent spate of sadistic murders under investigation by Inspector Smart and his team or is there some supernatural menace loose in the community?

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