Ominous Realities: The Anthology of Dark Speculative Horrors
Edited and collected by Anthony Rivera & Sharon Lawson
Published by Grey Matter Press 2013
Synopsis: Ominous Realities takes a thought-provoking look at a world ripped asunder and includes tales with a definite psychological and personal bent. Whether it be a world of reality run amok or one of a literal Hell on Earth, there is something in this volume for everyone.
Offering a collection of terrifying science fiction and speculative horrors, OMINOUS REALITIES is a dark thrill ride not limited by time or gravitational pull. It takes readers on an exploration of futuristic and post-Apocalyptic worlds, to experience societies where dark corporations rule, where humanity must consider terrifying alternatives, and to the dangerous realities that may be in store, dragging you through horrifying speculative scenarios that pose dire consequences for the existence of mankind.
Our Thoughts: This anthology brings together two of my great loves: science fiction and horror, with some speculative fiction thrown in for good measure. It’s not an “Ew! LOOK!” kind of horror as much as a “My brain is about to explode from trying to accept these possible truths!” This is what happens if the works of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King consummated and had a baby.
HOW TO MAKE A HUMAN by Martin Rose kicks off the book with a story of artificial intelligence created to resurrect the human race after it has been annihilated. Clearly, inventions of any kind are made in the image of their creator. It sets the tone well for what’s to come in the stories that follow. It’s a solid lead.
ANGIE by John F. D. Taff is a story about the ultimate sacrifice true love can manifest. Divorce and even the apocalypse cannot stop true love from maintaining its course. Some will do whatever they can to ensure their loved one is taken care of.
ON THE THRESHOLD by William Meikle is a great “There are other worlds than these” kind of story. Sometimes science wins, and sometimes science should really just mind its own damn business.
DOYOSHOTA by Ken Altabef is an excellent conspiracy theory story of a funky hum a section of the population starts to hear 24/7. Once the hum has you in its grasp, it’s only a matter of time before you crack. Many believe the hum was created by our goverment, but there are some who believe it’s a bit more primordial in nature.
THIRD OFFENSE by Gregory L. Norris scared me because it could easily be our future. What if we, the human race, were required to have ocular implants that fed us commercial advertising all day and all night while we went about our lives? What if we were also not allowed to be creative in any artistic way? How do you suppress the urge to write, to draw, when it’s what you were born to do? And what are the consequences of picking up a pen?
METAMORPHOSIS by J. Daniel Stone was just trippy. I read it in images, as if flipping through a comic book. It reminded me of those really weird scenes in Twin Peaks where everybody is talking backwards. A tale of one of the strangest NYC subway train rides ever will leave you wondering if the entire world can be affected by one person (or set of twins).
WE ARE HALE, WE ARE WHOLE by Eric Del Carlo was one of my favorite stories of the collection. The world has been reformed, and corporations control all aspects of the human race. It’s the tale of a ripjack, a person that takes on dangerous jobs to rack up healthcare points from the corporations with the promise of being taken care of in his or her golden years, provided said ripjack lives that long and does not seek to use any of the healthcare points accumulated over the course of the years. How far will someone go? Will they ever know love, friendship, camaraderie, trust? Is it worth it in the end?
PURE BLOOD AND EVERGREEN by Bracken MacLeod involves ethnic cleansing, internment camps, and the sadness and despair a simple and innocent friendship can create.
JOHN, PAUL, XAVIER, IRONSIDE AND GEORGE (BUT NOT VINCENT) by Hugh A.D. Spencer was my absolute favorite story in the anthology. I can’t even describe this story in any way that will do it justice. Just read it. If you need a short blurb of what it’s about: “The world is under attack from clouds of bio-mechanical destruction whose origins are unknown. With the end near, one man spends his last days taking care of an enigmatic client who seems to be of great importance to those in charge.” Oh, and Flipper Crutch.
AND THE HUNTER, HOME FROM THE HILL by Edward Morris was another really good one, especially if you’re a Superhero fan. This is the real story of Superman and his lady, Lois.
BORN BAD by Jonathan Balog is the story of Lucien, an orphan boy who looks up to one priest in particular who is helping to raise him. His obsession with Catholic doctrine and his decision to become a priest himself end up being quite a ghastly idea once he realizes his full potential.
THE LAST BASTION OF SPACE by Ewan C. Forbes is another corporate control tale of renting your brain for hire. This kind of stuff freaks me the hell out. When that’s all you’ve got left in order to survive, do you give it up to the man? At what cost?
EVERY SOUL IS A GRIMOIRE by Allen Griffin is a story of a once-upon-a-time writer who has now become what is known as an Exile. Exiles are people who seem to have a sixth sense, a mysterious insight into what the future may hold. They are considered dangerous and are heavily guarded. Harvey Ford is an agent sent to watch over this Exile, Mr. Charles Pallentine. People in close vicinity of the Exile begin to feel residual effects of this strange and fascinating connection. Harvey starts to question what is real and what is created. Can he trust his memories? His gut tells him “no” even when there is physical evidence that says these memories definitely happened.
FROM THE EAST by Alice Goldfuss shows us how humans cannot change who they are, even when faced with the end of the world. An explorer will still explore. A studious scientist will still dissect and quantify.
DECIDING IDENTITY by Paul Williams gives us a choice. What if there were two of you, the you you know, and another you on another world, a better world than this one? And what if both worlds know about each other and have realized that the end is drawing near. The two worlds cannot go on coexisting. One world must be destroyed. It is up to the citizens of each world to make a decision as to which one. To help with that decision, each person is given a day walking around in the other’s shoes. What will be the outcome?
THE LAST ELF by T. Fox Dunham is the story of a sociopathic Nazi concentration camp commander who has spend almost his entire life chasing elves. Yes, elves. It’s a well written story, both crazy and sad and worth a read.
All in all, OMINOUS REALITIES is another hit for Grey Matter Press. It’s got a little bit of everything for everybody within its pages.