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Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary by Carol Serling
Cover Artist: Design: Jamie Stafford-Hill
Review by Andrew Brooks
Tor Books Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765324337
Date: 01 September 2009 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

When I found out TOR had released a collection of 19 short stories involving the Twilight Zone, two thoughts popped immediately into mind. Yes, of course, the iconic theme music and Rod Serling's wonderful opening monologues. But also, in the back my head, a tiny and pessimistic voice whispering: It might suck. After all the greatness of the original show and a few decent remakes this might just be a quick cash grab, suckering in the fans who can't get enough. The voice was wrong. This is as close to the old black and white episodes as you can get. Although not all the stories are superb, there are some gems here and TOR did it right.

A rundown, then, of the ones I found most Zone-like. Perhaps they'll serve as the basis for a few good scripts, should the show ever find its way back to television.

"A Haunted House of Her Own" by Kelley Armstrong. Any good TZ episode contained a solid twist, and this story has a great one. A woman and her husband find the answer to their search in the form of one haunted house. The woman, who of course doesn't really believe in ghosts, wants to turn the place into a bed and breakfast sure to lure in the suckers. What she doesn't account for is that she will soon play a larger part in her new enterprise then she ever could have imagined.

"Benchwarmer" by Mike Resnick: There's no TZ twist here, but a touching story about where imaginary friends go after we've left them behind. Along the lines of the famous Kick the Can episode of TZ, "Benchwarmer" is more about whimsy than terror.

"The Street That Time Forgot" by Deborah Chester: This was my favorite of the collection. A man moves into a gated community that caters to its residents' every need. When he discovers the truth behind what is really going on, the protagonist finds it's sometimes hard to break a contract. The set up for this one, and Chester's prose create a chilling story that I thought about frequently after putting down. I've never read anything by this author, but this is the kind of effort that made me search out their other work.

"The Wrong Room" by R.L. Stine: A short short, but one that packs a punch and definitely the kind I could very easily imagine in black and white, Serling's narration providing the denouement after a fantastic twist.

"The Soldier He Needed to Be" by Jim DiFelice: This story revolves around a soldier in Afghanistan and the mysterious iPod that gets him through. Or does it?

"Ants" by Tad Williams: I like Williams' fantasy and science fiction epics, but I didn't know he wrote horror. This story reminded me of Poe's "Tell-tale Heart", both in execution and result.

While the other shorts in this collection were decent, the above are the ones I enjoyed the most. There were one or two that I thought could have made a better collection with their absence, but overall this is good stuff. Highly recommended, especially to those who love the Twilight Zone.

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