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Richard Davis – Orbit Book Horror Stories

Posted by demonik on November 28, 2007

Richard Davis (ed.) – The First Orbit Book Of Horror Stories Ed. (Orbit, 1976) *


Richard Davis – Introduction

Harlan Ellison – The Whimper Of Whipped Dogs
J. Ramsey Campbell – The Man in The Underpass
T. E. D. Klein – S.F.
Clive Sinclair – Uncle Vlad
Brian M. Stableford – Judas Story
Brian Lumley – The House Of Cthulhu
Allan Weiss – Satanesque
Steve Chapman – Burger Creature
Tim Stout – Wake Up Dead
Bernard Taylor – Forget-Me-Not
Gregory Fitz Gerald – Halloween Story
Charles E. Fritch – Big, Wide, Wonderful World
Eddy C. Bertin – The Taste Of Your Love

* Published in the USA as The Years Best Horror Stories Series III

I’d imagine this one was considered cutting edge when first published and 30 years haven’t diminished the power of these stories. More-so than David Sutton, Davis introduces SF into the mix, not my thing but there are enough out-and-out horrors to keep the likes of me happy.

Taylor’s history of Dr. Crippen’s wallpaper and the prog rock nightmare, “Judas Story”, have been commented upon elsewhere. Ellison’s opener is horror with a social conscience, the authors angry response to the big city, broad daylight murder of Kitty Genovese while people stood around and watched. Campbell locates a demon in a subway, and has a child narrate the nasty things that ensue. Ellison aside (nothing is scarier than reality), Weiss’s black magic outing, “Satanesque”, is maybe the most frightening and gory of the bunch – a statue comes to violent life and it’s none too choosy about who it kills …

Bernard Taylor – Forget-Me-Not: New Yorker Sandra, 26, arrives in London on a one year teacher exchange programme. On the tube she meets a helpful young man who, by way of chit-chat indicates the former 10 Rillington Place, once home to mass-murderer Reginald Christie. Before long Sandra is obsessing over the killer, reading all she can find about him and even hanging his photo on the wall of her new flat. When she learns that his house is due for demolition, Sandra pays it a final visit and peels a small strip of wallpaper from above the fireplace as a souvenir which she later pastes next to his image. Gradually it spreads across the flat, draining her of all vitality as it does so. Maybe as innovative a variation on the hoary vampire theme as I’ve read.

Tim Stout – Wake Up Dead: Camber Fell Prison for the Criminally Insane. Dr. Kellin invites select colleagues along to witness the unveiling of his new invention, a machine that transmits dreams as though they were regular TV shows. His volunteer is mass-murderer John Vanner who has always maintained that he committed his crimes while asleep. Vanner endured the most traumatic childhood – his father killed his mother and then came looking for him – and has been a martyr to his nightmares ever since. Should be fun getting to see what so terrorises him then …

Eddy C. Bertin – The Taste Of Your Love: Riccione, near Rimini. A serial-killer with a long history of torture-murders behind him picks up his latest intended victim at a disco and takes her back to his lodgings for a night of passion. But the girl with ‘the finely drawn features and dark lonely eyes’ is every bit his match. Soon she has him pinned to the bed in a grip of steel. And then she flicks her hair aside to show him the left side of her face, deformed by what looks like something one of Marilyn Manson’s cheerleaders would paint on her cheek ….

Steve Chapman – Burger Creature: Trudy and Maureen find him lurking around the burger joint where they work as waitresses. He’s an animated mass of hamburger, fries, onion and ketchup with pickles for eyes. Otherwise he looks like a regular guy. Trudy, the looker of the pair, falls for him – she’s suddenly very keen for Maureen to knock off early – and keeps him hidden away in the freezer. Everything’s going nicely until their appalling manager discovers the Happy meal on legs and tries to kill him …

Clive Sinclair – Uncle Vlad: Wait a minute. The Clive Sinclair? Anyhow … A descendant of the infamous impaler – with all the family niceties off pat – initiates the far-from-unwilling Madelaine into the clan.

Charles E. Fritch – Big, Wide Wonderful World: Following the nuclear holocaust, everybody is on state prescribed hallucinogenic drugs to keep them from seeing just how ugly their world really is. Thrill-seekers Chuck, Bill and Len get their kicks from sharing a “nightmare” – deliberately not taking their fix at the appointed time and resisting from doing so for as long as they can endure it. Within a few minutes they’ve all gone to pieces and there’s even a fatality. The publication details given for this story are Magazine of Fantasy & SF, 1968, but it was written at least ten years earlier and appears in the Charles Beaumont edited The Fiend In You (Ballantine, 1962).

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