Following the huge success of Festive Fear (2009) Tasmaniac Publications have followed up with a second volumne, this time open to Writers both domestically and Internationally. I'm pleased to report that the homeside didn't get swamped by the overseas contingent, with a number of local stories appearing in this edition.
Editor Stephen Clark presents a further fifteen stories centered around a Christmas theme to liven up that family event with a bit of blood and mayhem. Of course you can read the stories any time of the year, Clark isn't just the evil Christmas Elf, he likes to branch out to other festivities as well. Lets have a look at what Evil Santa put under the tree for Christmas 2010.
The collection shifts into immediate gear with Christopher Conlon's deliciously warped flash piece Christmas Night, which sets the collection up perfectly in my warped opinion. The sharp eyed amongst us will immediately notice that the Global Edition of Festive Fear comes to us sans editorial. Either Stephen Clark is getting lazy in his old age, or more probably he simply considers anyone not having gone through a love affair with the first collection isn't worth talking to anyway. Those of us who are Festive Fear regulars do of course give each other knowing looks, we're wise to the ways of Stephen Clark Christmas collections, newbies are simply going to have to learn as they go along. Hint, it's a collection of dark genre tales set in and around Christmas, slice that up anyway you want, and serve with cranberry sauce.
I should also point out to those who are ready to run off and buy the collection already that it has been sold out since forever, you are out of luck. Hence I've got no issues with this review being late, like a particularly good blockbuster Tasmaniac releases sell out regardless of what the Reviewers think. Though we are more apt to give a standing ovation to Clark and his team than not. Anyways with that piece of arse covering done, back to the slap and tickle.
As we would expect from Tasmaniac the paperback edition of the collection is superbly put together; great long wearing covers, easy to read fonts, and another fine collection of prints surprising the reader as they proceed through the tales. Tasmaniac releases really are collectors items, and I'm hell bent on getting my grubby paws on each and every book from this Publisher. I'm already contemplating new bookcase scenarios to be honest. Slight detour there.
To the stories themselves, and we have quite the selection of brightly wrapped packages to devour and enjoy. Will simply mention the tales I personally dug the most, with the proviso that different readers are going to have different selections. There are no badly written stories in the collection, and I have to say that I enjoyed each and every morsel. So moving along here's my personal highlights package.
They Own the Night, B. Michael Radburn, is sort of stretching the Christmas theme a bit in my opinion, but what the heck I'm always up for a zombie yarn that takes a different approach. Have a vague notion I've read this story elsewhere as well, but could be complete wrong.
Scott Tyson, who has immediately gone on my Christmas Card list, brings the house down with the wonderfully perverse Dear Santa, a story told through letters to the big jolly fellow. Excellent stuff that made the collection worth reading on it's own. Tyson deserves a lot of accolades for this exercise in undermining childhood memories, not that I’m saying I wrote a lot of letters to Santa of course.
There's always someone who has to spoil the Christmas spirit, Tim Curran goes apeshit in that regard with the blood dripping That Olde Christmas Spirit which highlights the pagan origins of the festival. A pretty unrelenting story, be warned Curran takes great delight in painting the town blood red, and decorating it with guts. One for the entire family to enjoy, except for the members who run screaming from the room.
Sorry running out of room here, so picking up the pace. G. N Braun hits the juxtaposition jive with the excellent Santa Akbar! Aka The Taking of QF123. I for one simply love Braun's Christmas carols, they are so insanely brilliant that you wonder if the dude wasn't traumatised by something in his adolescent years, perhaps a rabid reindeer or something. One to read the Kiddies on Christmas eve, especially if said Kiddies belong to relatives you really don't like. To be honest I want a whole collection of Braun Christmas goodness, over to Stephen Clark to get that happening.
For those interested, and remembering the print run of Festive Fear: Global Edition has sold out, you can check out the official Tasmaniac site right about here. If you must have a copy, don't look at me I collect Tasmaniac releases, then perhaps try eBay, there's a single copy on sale at the moment.