Last Whispers

Whispers VI: edited by Stuart David Schiff (1987) containing the following stories:

The Bones Wizard by Alan Ryan: Supernatural musical shenanigans. Extremely subtle to the point of attenuation, with little actual horror.

Leaks by Steve Rasnic Tem: Quintessential Tem: mysterious, disturbing, rooted in the real.

Everything to Live For by Charles L. Grant: Almost a Philip K. Dick science-fiction horror story both in execution and in its treatment of its themes.

Bogy by Al Sarrantonio: Poetic, Bradburyesque piece with the sort of nasty ending that Bradbury specialized in back in the 1940’s.

The Fool by David Drake: Lengthy novella echoes the regional dialects and themes of Drake’s friend, horror legend Manly Wade Wellman, but with its own peculiar spin on magic and justice. Really a good, convincingly regional piece, and quite different from much of Drake’s other output.

Repossession by David Campton: Enjoyable ghost story with a couple of interesting concepts. Would probably work better if it developed the narrator more.

The Years the Music Died by F. Paul Wilson: Bleakly humourous conspiracy tale about Rock-and-Roll.

The Woman in Black by Dennis Etchison: Typically elusive Etchison tale of mysterious horrors in the suburbs turns into an almost surreal freak-out at the end. This is not an ending you will see coming. Disturbing.

My Name Is Dolly by William F. Nolan: Concise, ably narrated in the first-person by a child, straddles psychological and supernatural horror.

Toad, Singular by Juleen Brantingham: Well-written but intensely unpleasant story in what I generally find to be an unrewarding sub-sub-genre of horror: the tale of a sympathetic nebbish who’s been brutalized by the normal world…and now gets further brutalized by the supernatural! It all feels awfully sadistic.

Sleeping Booty by Richard Wilson: Droll short-short: black comedy, not horror.

Privacy Rights by J. N. Williamson: Really disturbing bit involving rape and abortion. Verges on the exploitative, and the madness of the main character doesn’t seem fully earned by the story.

One for the Horrors by David J. Schow: Great, nostalgic piece about old movies and lonely people. Not horror.

The Black Clay Boy by Lucius Shepard: Super-duper creepy tale of sex, death, magic, and what I’d describe as Hagar Shipley goes to Hell.

Where Did She Wander? by Manly Wade Wellman: The last John the Balladeer story by the then-recently-deceased Wellman. Lovely and somewhat mournful.

In all: highly recommended.

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