My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a strange anthology in many ways. Firstly it mixes genres, then we have short stories rubbing shoulders with 100 word drabbles. That's fine though, I like a bit of variety, especially when mixing sci-fi dystopia with horror. The other element of strangeness is the themes. There seems to be a tug of war between apocalypse and asylum. The best stories by far are the end-of-the-world scenarios and the unhinged protagonist.
Apocalypse being relevant too. Much like Coppola's Apocalyse Now which opened with the Doors brooding track 'The End', Shaun opens this anthology with the end; the end of the world that is. The opening tale, Blind Star, was my favourite and by far the strongest both in style and story. Shaun should really consider expanding this into a novel or at least a novella.
But this anthology isn't just some sort of prayer to J.G Ballard, it's also a reflection of great horror writers such as King, Matheson and early Clive Barker. I don't think the drabbles worked as well as the longer pieces, and I'll be honest my star rating is based only on the longer stories. I'm not saying the 100 word tales are no good as most are. They just didn't seem to belong here amongst stories built on well established characters and solid themes.
One thing I noticed is that Shaun stayed away from conventional horror tropes, whether intentionally or not it proved to be a breath of fresh air. There is a lot of discussion about this choice at the moment, and while I see good and bad in both sides of the argument, it was great to delve into a world vacant of vampires and werewolves for a while.
I look forward to seeing a longer piece of work from Shaun Adams. If it involves madness, space, horror and dark imagined creatures I know it'll be a smash. Because those are Shaun's strengths and he could do worse than exploring those elements of his writing.
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