Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dark Faith - Anthology

This review took me a while to write, because the stories in this anthology are exceptional. I think it is a rather good read for Halloween even though it was released in May. This book explores the deeper questions of the relations between humanity and that which it worships. There are no sacred cows, as multiple faiths and multiple perspectives are explored.

Ghosts of New York by Jennifer Pelland – A fascinating commentary on the exploitive melodrama that our society has woven from the most profound event in our history in the last 20 years. It speaks from the perspective of the dead, and it is not a pleasant one. Excellently written it sets the whole tone for the book to come.

I Sing a New Psalm by Brian Keene – An excellent story on the consequences of believing and then having that source of that belief removed unexpectedly or arbitrarily. The formating of the story is also quite unique following that of an actual biblical psalm.

He Who Would Not Bow by Wrath James White – A fascinating take on particle physics and the true meaning of the term ‘God Particle’ as well as the true consequences of what the Rapture might actually entail when applied to the real world.

Zen and the Art of Gordon Dratch’s Damnation by Douglas F. Warrick – An amazing contrast between the religious overtones of Zen Buddism and Christianity, as well as the challenge and consequences of living up to our own convictions. It does a better job of describing hell than Dante, that is certain.

Go Tell it On the Mountain by Kyle S. Johnson – An interesting take on what reality would be like if Jesus were essentially a burnt out talent agent. It also has a pointed message on valueing what we have here on Earth whilst we have it.

Different From Other Nights by Eliyanna Kaiser – A demonstration on the exercize of being careful what we tell our children, why we tell it to them, and making sure that they have a complete understanding thereof. Innocence can have severe consequences when it belies ignorance. Also a very interesting look into Jewish tradtions of Passover.

Lilith by Rain Groves – Short poem that is well done.

The Last words of (Not Dutch Schulz) Jesus Christ by Nick Mamatas – This a rather abstract piece that starts with a documentary style account of what would happen if God were Nyrohotep and Jesus was his spawn and someone made a film that tapped into the collective zeitgeist. The second half of the story is the actual script of the film that kind of begs to be made. Mind warping but entertaining read.

To the Jerusalem Crater by Lavie Tidhar – Old Gods are deposed by the New as the walls between worlds bleed together until it is almost impossible to tell one from the other. A fascinating and somewhat surrealistic tale though a bit out of place compared to the others. The descriptions are lush and very visual.

Chimeras & Grotesquiries by Matt Cardin – What if God were One of Us? Just a Stranger On the Bus? Or Maybe a Hobo H.P. Lovecraft on Acid with a Side of Fries. Delightfully messed up story.

You Dream by Ekaterina Sedia – A highly personal experience in the second person. It blends the realm of the dead and the living and of dreaming and the waking world. Very enjoyable.

Mother Urban’s Booke of Dayes by Jay Lake – Danny Broke the World. Danny is rather guilty about this fact, and, as is highly appropriate, uses duct tape (among other things) to fix it. A wondrous look at the actual consequences of prayer and non monotheistic faiths.

The Mad Eyes of the Heron King by Richard Dansky - A lesson on why most human interaction with the supernatural would probably go unreported. Aesopic, whimsical and prophetic, it speaks of the dealings of Leonard, the office worker and the Heron King. And the consequences thereof.

Paint Box, Puzzle Box by D. T. Friedman – An artist conceives of a rather creative way to cheat Death. Death has other ideas. A very enjoyable read.

A Loss for Words by J.C. Hay – Muses can be quite destructive and often demand a heavy price, particularly when their gifts are not properly appreciated, but the relationship can work both ways, even if the victory is only phyric.

Scrawl by Tom Piccirilli – The implications of the supernatural have a light touch in this one, with a far more sensual muse. But what it lacks in the twisting of reality, it makes up for in the travel guide towards the twisted parts thereof.

C{her}y Carvings – A poem. Beautiful and extremely abstract, it invokes light and darkness…

Good Enough by Kelli Dunlap – Some consider Science a religion. The protagonist, Chris follows in the footsteps of those who have passed the path of its worship before, though without the same end result. Twisted but very well written.

First Communions by Geofry Girard – Takes a much different take on the concept of sacrifice, and what giving one’s life for the concept of unlimited unfathomable love can ultimately mean. A strange duality across time in a series of flashbacks between two girls; two witnesses just like in the book of revelations who bear witness to the concept of love in an extremely disturbing way.

The God of Last Moments by Alethea Kontis – A fascinating alegory I had never before considered between Pandora’s box and the hope chest. It also shows the hunger that can easily consume any of us, and the pointlessness of power for its own sake. Fame, fortune or glory can easily be substituted for the powers sought by Max. And furthermore, it ends well too.

Ring Road by Mary Robinette Kowal – Interactions between mortals and gods seldom go well for the mortals involved, though this modern incarnation of ancient norse mythology helps the reader appreciate corn flakes with a side of toast. A trip to Iceland meets disastrous results. It is very well told and, most importantly, is faithful to the feel and theme of the ancient Icelandic mythos.

The Unremembered by Cheysa Burke – The vast majority of the world’s cultures have oral, not written histories and as a result some of the greatest civilizations in the history of mankind have had their histories lost with an untimely death or series of deaths. But in a world where the supernatural can occur, these disquiet spirits take umbrage of this fact and choose Jeli to rectify it. But such knowledge does not come without price.

Desperata or the Desiderata of H.P. Lovecraft by Lon Prater (Poem): The Catacysm of Cthulu

The Choir by Lucien Soulban – The forgotten corners of history give wide berth for the shadows of darkness to move about unseen, providing ample explanation for why dark tentacled things at night might slaughter with abandon to the uncaring unhuman masses above. Set in WWII in a Qship returning to the states with a cargo of ‘shame’ it has an amptly appropriate ending.

The Days of Flaming Motorcycles by Catherynne M. Valente – This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a wimper. And a well stocked collection of spiral ring notebooks from elementry school. A slice of unlife story in which the apocalypse comes in a most uncinematic theme.

Miz Ruthie Pays Her Respects by Lucy A Snyder – A distant family relation comes to pay her respects in an unorthydox way. And a young boy is given a chance at redemption from an unexpected quarter. And finally, an excellent proof that God (in this story at least) does not play favorites.

Paranoia (a Poem) by Kurt Dinan - It isn’t if they really are out to get you. They are.

Hush by Kelly Barnhill - Written in the present tense. The moment is captured and unspoken wood gods of ancient york make their mark upon the modern world. A delightful bundle of mystery makes its mark known as well.

Sandboys by Richard Wright – There are those that believe all things in the universe are animate, that they have a spirit of their own. Is it any wonder then that if there is a grief of sufficient strength that nature herself might not answer back in reply to the unheard cries offered unto it? A story of personal growth.

For My Next Trick I’ll Need a Volunteer by Gary A. Braunbeck – Time takes a glance sideways in a world of infinite possibilities. Faith merges with cosmology in science to provide an explanation to an elemental question of life and death. A cop saves a child with the help of a magical reverend.

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