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Aftershock & Others: 19 Oddities by F. Paul Wilson
Review by Drew Bittner
Forge Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765312778
Date: 17 March 2009 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

It's a rare treat to have a collection of F. Paul Wilson's short stories--he does them infrequently but is terrific at the form. These 19 tales represent not only a far-ranging representation of his imagination and writing skill, they are also a trip through time: Wilson has chosen stories that illustrate specific years in his career, providing commentary on what makes the story special to him.

In Aftershocks and Others, Wilson takes a break from novel writing to give his myriad fans a palate-cleanser and a gift: 19 short stories drawn from 1990 to 2005.

The title story, "Aftershock" won the Bram Stoker Award for 1998, and it is easy to see why. It's a tale of hauntings, desperation and how terrible a thing uncertainty can be, when one most needs to be sure of what is real.

Two of the entries, 2003's "Sex Slaves of the Dragon Tong" and 2004's "Part of the Game" hark back to the glory days of pulp fiction. In the first, a young detective pits his skills and courage against a nefarious Asian criminal genius, and in the second, that detective's older colleague discovers that having one's curiosity satisfied can be a cruel game indeed. Taken together, they form a larger and more satisfying work than many writers deliver in a whole novel... as well as a great example of Wilson's talent with character and setting.

This volume also features 1990's "Foet" about the nature of fashion consciousness and how far it could conceivably go, and "When He Was Fab" which is a rather unusual twist on a 1950s B-movie.

For many of Wilson's fans, however, the piece de resistance will be "Interlude at Duane's" a 2005 short story featuring his antihero Repairman Jack. It's a terrific little tale of Jack caught without his usual weapons, facing a no-win situation in a New York drugstore. Resourceful as ever, and facing a purely mundane enemy for once, Jack proves once again that he's the best at what he does.

Anyone who likes outré, thoughtful short stories is certain to love this collection. Wilson once again proves that he isn't a novelist--he is a storyteller, long form, short form, whatever. He can spin a story like nobody else.

Strongly recommended.

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