Edited by Jonathan Oliver
Review by Mario Guslandi
Solaris Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781781082683
Date: 02 December 2014 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Multi-award winner Jonathan Oliver is back with a new short story anthology devoted to games--in a broad sense--which bizarre, weird, engrossing or extreme as they can be, influence and sometimes deeply affect the lives of people.
The line-up of authors involved in the project is impressive, featuring excellent writers such as the late Melanie Tem, Robert Shearman, Helen Marshall, Pat Cadigan, etc., whose contributions, although not always up to their usual high standard, are all accomplished enough to satisfy the taste of horror and non-horror fans.
As a reviewer, however, I'm taking the liberty to focus on the stories which really stand out, regardless of the fame of their respective authors. And, believe me, there's plenty.
Chuck Wendig's "Big Man" is a breathtaking place about a recently divorced man who has to face a desperate racing battle on the highway, ending up in an unpredictable, bitter fashion.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia contributes "The Yellow Door", a very disturbing, sinister tale where the dangers of game addiction are strongly enhanced by the effects of an old shoggoth soup served in a Chinese joint.
In the delicate and poignant "The Game Changer" by Libby McGugan, experimental nanotechnology and videogames team up to save the life of a little boy affected by cancer.
Tade Thompson's "Honourable Mention" is a vivid piece where a Nigerian immigrant seeks help from a powerful fetish to win a game, the prize of which would change his future.
The extremely horrific "Loser" by Rebecca Levene portrays the life-long friendship between a clever, but dangerous girl and a pathetic boy. The intense, disquieting "Ready or Not" by Gary McMahon features a man returning to his hometown to pay tribute to a past which will always haunt the rest of his life.
My favorite title is Hillary Monahan's "The Bone Man's Bride" a terrifying, extraordinary tale masterly depicting the horror and the cruelty of the pagan sacrifice of an innocent young girl.
In short, an excellent anthology graced by some outstanding stories.