On Stephen King and Steven Utley

Fantasy and Science Fiction kindly gave me a freebie copy of their upcoming October/November double issue. The most notable story is that of Stephen King, who delivers a short but touching story that isn’t scary, but strange, like a dream that may haunt you for a few days after waking up. The editor likened it to a Twilight Zone episode, which seems like a fair comparison.

The other story in the issue that struck me the most was Steven Utley’s The Sleepless Years. It reminded me in a strange way of H.P. Lovecraft at his best. Utley is a better writer than Lovecraft–he doesn’t overuse terms like “cyclopean” or “blasphemous”–but Lovecraft’s stories have a certain power because there is a fundamental loneliness behind them–which I presume reflects Lovecraft’s own life–and this can lend his tales of madness and a cruel universe a disturbing verisimilitude, like The Whisperer in Darkness.

Mr. Utley reminds me of that aspect of Lovecraft with his sad tale of a man trapped in an experiment. Just as Lovecraft’s loneliness powered his tales, to judge from the story’s dedication, Mr. Utley’s story was semi-autobiographical as well. Sounds like a man who could use a few prayers, if you have a mind to do that.

Not all the stories are sad: Mike Resnick has what can be best described as science-fiction variation of a fairy tale, where a robot scarecrow befriends a lost boy. Albert Cowdrey has a funny story of alien abduction in post-Katrina New Orleans (which is something of an alien environment itself). And I haven’t named quite half of all the issue’s offerings.

The double-issues are fun since there’s just about something for everyone–let me know what you think if you get your hands on a copy.

Comments 3

  1. C. C. Finlay wrote:

    I think you mean Michael Swanwick not Mike Resnick.

    Thoughtful analysis of the Utley story, btw.

    Posted 21 Sep 2008 at 9:32 pm
  2. Down South wrote:

    Post-Katrina New Orleans is just weird. You can come visit so you can see for yourself… But I don’t think there are any alien abductions occurring, not even in the Lower Ninth. Sorry.

    Posted 21 Sep 2008 at 10:31 pm
  3. Jerry wrote:

    @C.C. Finlay

    D’oh! My apologies to Messrs. Swanwick and Resnick for the confusion.

    @South: I would like to visit New Orleans at some point. I hope that a conference will take me there, but until then will have to settle for a vicarious experience, aliens and all.

    Posted 21 Sep 2008 at 10:50 pm

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