"Molten steel. Stuffed with fat." - Gung Gung
Sci-Fi outfit Andromeda Spaceways hit out with their second collection of dark genre tales to keep their Readers glued to the seat. We get nineteen stories of the macabre, a bunch of drawings from various artists, and the usual editorial, Bios, and what not that "best of" collections tend to peddle to the unwary. While I'm nearly always up for this sort of thing I did have a slight concern about how the Sci-Fi nerd crew would approach the book. Let's face facts here, we don't want any "beam me up Scottie" moments, we want blood, demons in the mist, and the sort of tale that will turn your hair white. Okay getting it on here, how did Andromeda do with the elephant in the holodeck?
Naturally, given the home front is Sci-fi for Andromeda, there are a few stories set in the futuristic expanse of space. However the Editors get their horror on baby, with some damn scary stuff happening between the pages. Don't believe me, check out Black Box by Miles Deacon, which takes the old "eaten alive" gambit and throws a whole new visage on it, I was rocking out to this one. Actually I have to say I've read a bunch more Sci-Fi orientated stories in more traditional horror releases, so yeah we can't fault this collection on pandering to the Battlestar Galactica crew. I'm offering that as some sort of a two thumbs up given Andromeda are the premier Sci-Fi magazine in this part of the cosmos.
For those after the typical horror tropes, well I can report that you are going to more than happy with your meal here. We got werewolves, vampires, ghosts, Cthulu mythos, and about everything you would expect up to Hannibal Lector. I reckon if someone had of written a half decent Texas Chainsaw Massacre tale then it would have made the cut here. So no we're not talking safe literature, the Editors actually know their stuff, get ready for some blood drenched writing that just might have you checking out more of what Andromeda might have on their carousel.
Regular voyeurs of scary fiction Downunder will of course be aware of any number of Authors included in the collection. Chuck McKenzie, Kaaron Warren, Shane Jiraiya Cummings, Lee Battersby, Dirk Flinthart, hey stop me when you get the picture. Sure you have probably already read a few of the tales included, but I can almost guarantee there will be the odd story that will be new to you. Actually hasn't artist David Schembri been loitering around dark genre circles as well? So something new, something borrowed, and something blood red, would be my call.
Overall, and yes this is a "Best of Horror" collection not simply a by-line, the writing is of a high standard, with local scribes mixing it with Johnny Foreigner to good effect. Clearly the requirement for inclusion in the book was the ability to be able to actually write prose, as opposed to half the stuff being heisted on the paranormal romance crowd. While there's a fair amount of humour involved, Chuck McKenzie and Matthew Chrulew are on board for starters, there is also a fair swag of dark musings that will have the Reader setting their controls for the dark heart of the genre. Don't expect anything too out there, no one is exactly breaking rules here, and you should have a solid enough time wallowing in a well-rounded selection of dark delights. I can report that no vampire was forced to sparkle during the production of this collection.
I should point out, because strangely ScaryMinds readers have a bee in their iron maiden over this, that yes there are some haunted house tales, though Chrulew's How I Learned to Keep Tidy snuck up on the concept from an angle I wasn't expecting. But no there isn't a possession tale per sue, or at least not a possession tale as we know it. David J. Kane's Scattersmith is about the nearest thing to what you might be after, but don't expect Priests, Samarian demons, or the power of Christ compelling a dark presence to do the right thing. Did I mention you get Lycans and other creatures of the night to compensate?
Okay so I had a surprisingly good time between the covers, had read some of the stories before, but stumbled on quite a few that were new to me. The short story is alive and well Downunder, albeit only really within speculative fiction or crime, and with this collection Andromeda show they are all over the darkness and prepare to go where very few nerds are want to venture. I'm for sure going to dial into the next collection the Sci-Fi orientated magazine produce, recommended reading y'all, this one is not simply dark orientated tales being told around artificial fires on holodecks, this is the real deal.
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine: Best of Horror Volume 2 is available from the magazine site, right about here. The collection is available as either a pdf download or on CD for those of you weird enough to want a copy on disc. At only $10, with a $3 shipping fee for OS Readers, it represents good value for money in my sordid opinion. I'm not seeing electronic reader versions, but hey computer files are good enough for the likes of us. While on site why not check out the magazine and other offerings. No, volume 1 of the horror offering doesn't appear to be available, have asked but to no result.