More Stories from the Twilight Zone
Edited by Carol Serling
Review by Mario Guslandi
Tor Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765325822
Date: 06 July 2010 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
A cult, legendary TV series, originally run from 1959 to 1964 and then followed by several revivals in more recent years, Twilight Zone, created by Rod Serling, has been graced by fabulous scripts written by great authors such as Serling himself and the likes of Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont and, later on, Ray Bradbury.
I remember that as a kid, I was watching, totally fascinated, those black-and-white episodes dubbed for Italian TV, the series being renamed in Italian as Ai confine della realtą (at the boundaries of reality). At the boundaries of reality, however, doesn't mean at the boundaries of plausibility. Of course SF and fantasy are products of the imagination but to generate suspension of disbelief they must respect certain rules of logic.
A problem with the present short story anthology, aimed to revisit the uncanny atmospheres of the Twilight Zone, is that the authors' imagination has been often stretched over the boundaries of logic and therefore some stories totally lack credibility. An appropriate example is a story where a scientist who has invented a time machine (no objections to that, of course) retrieves Davy Crockett just before he gets killed at the Alamo by transporting him a few years ahead. How the hero can time travel without stepping into the machine or even being close to it is anybodys guess.
The other problem is that the average quality of the stories in terms of narrative style and writing ability is mostly rather poor, so much so that Rod Serling would have hardly approved of the majority of the nineteen contribution included.
Fortunately, there are a few excellent tales which make up for the low quality of the rest of the volume.
Peter Crowther provides the compelling "Thoughtful Breaths", a moving, perceptive story about life and after-life, family ties, and the ability of love to overcome the limits of human condition.
John Farris' "Earthfall" is a curious, effective mix between a technological detective story and a SF piece, while Dean Wesley Smith's "Dead Post Bumper" is an unnerving tale where a man driving his car in Death Valley runs out of gas with tragic consequences.
In the excellent "Obsession" by David Black, a man bewitched by a wonderful, perfect woman discovers how heaven can turn into hell.
Robert J. Serling contributes "Reversal of Fortune", a delightful, engrossing story where two university professors become time travelers to change some events in world history.
The real gem of the book is "The Last Christmas Letter" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, a beautiful, delicate Christmas tale in which an impossible letter from a dying old man reaches his daughters. The story offers an insightful depiction of family Christmases with their joy, their slight touch of melancholy, and the feeling that beyond all that lies a different reality, namely the Twilight Zone.