Disintegration

Fears Unnamed by Tim Lebbon (2004) containing the following stories:

Remnants: A really lovely combination of eerie, cosmic, Time-Abyss adventures in a mysterious lost city and psychological realism, as the problems and disappointments of two life-long friends — one an adventurer and archaeologist, the other a sedentary writer depressingly disappointed by the choices he’s made — are examined and evaluated during a descent into the unknown.

White: An apocalyptic story of the ‘Ten Little Indians’ variety. Several acquaintances become snowbound in Northern England while the world rapidly plunges into chaos and mysterious destruction, and the snow keeps coming. And weird, weird, half-glimpsed creatures prowl the snow. Or are the gruesome murders being committed actually the work of someone inside the house?

Naming of Parts: Lebbon takes what initially seems to be a zombie plague observed by a 12-year-old boy and turns it into an apocalypse in which everything — humanity, one’s family, all of nature — seems to be afflicted by entropy and rapid, irreversible decay. The ending in this one is a bit of a dud, as the story seems to demand some sort of closure that is instead given up to mysterious ambiguity. Nonetheless, very good and very sad.

The Unfortunate: Occasionally almost surreal weird-out about the sole survivor of a plane crash, and the supernatural forces behind his survival. The weirdness of the supernatural universe could use more development — to the extent that this novella would probably make a wonderful novel — though the bleakness of the material is never less than daunting. All four of these novellas evade and confound catharsis in a manner peculiar to the best horror fiction: there is no satisfying purgation here, only greater mysteries and sublime abjection.

In all: highly recommended.

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