Item description for The Urban Bizarre by Nick Mamatas Michael Hemmingson...
The Urban Bizarre by Nick Mamatas Michael Hemmingson
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.6" Width: 5.56" Height: 0.48" Weight: 0.52 lbs.
Publisher Prime Books
ISBN 193099740X ISBN13 9781930997400
Availability 95 units. Availability accurate as of Mar 27, 2017 02:39.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Urban Bizarre?
Amazing Fiction from New Voices...Don't miss it Dec 20, 2005
This is not your mother's anthology, nor is it your standard horror anthology. This is not, in fact, a horror anthology at all, though most of the fiction fits that theme just fine, thank you. It is definitely a Chiaroscuro - Those Who Walk Alone anthology, if that makes any sense. Editor Nick Mamatas spent a lot of his youth on the streets of NYC and at some point in his life, he got caught up with a group of "urban" writers who were writing "Urban Fiction". Caught up in this for a while, he realized that the streets and city they wrote of was not the one he remembered. In their stories, every character had a significant other in a high-up publishing position, they all lived in poseuresque splendor. It wasn't his city. The following is a quote from my live journal where Mamatas explains the philosophy behind his anthology, The Urbasn Bizarre like this. "The only way to `keep it real' is to actually throw realism out the window. `Realism', after all, is not just mimetic storytelling, but has a very specific aesthetic agenda, one that centers a middle-class personality in the foreground, and reduces everything else (class, society, religion, technological change, fear, the uncanny, whimsy) to background." Gathered together in this book you will find the work of science fiction writers, speculative fiction writers, pornographers, and the eclectically non-challenged. There are some truly memorable tales here, and a few that will just stick like burs in your mind and worry at you. They worry at me:
"Tuck" by Michael Hemmingson, is a sort of slice of 911 story. Against the backdrop of the September 11 tragedy, we see the lives of people in the city, their pain and a bit of the selfishness that keeps all of us whirling about in our own little worlds with only casual contact between.
"Anxiety Branson, Social Security Hustler," by Charlie Anders, is one of the strongest pieces in the book. Imagine William Gibson in the early days of Cyberpunk writing about feel-good technology installed by Social Security. Great characters in a world that is not as difficult to believe in as it should be.
"Amy," by Ann Sterzinger, is one very strongly characterized piece. I can't shake the image of a man describing a young, thin girl who wants sex so badly she is literally shaking with it and doesn't know how to ask him. Very powerful in a dark way. Might make you think twice about that old pile of porn mags in your closet, too.
"Electric Complex," by K. Z. Perry, will touch a chord in all those who hate the people surrounding them that have sprouted electronic devices like new limbs. It's a cautionary tale of sorts.
"Ruby Tuesday," by Tsaurah Litzky, like Anxiety Branson mentioned above, takes us to a world that isn't quite "here". In my journal, I wrote the following impression of the story, and decided to include it here without editing. `The point is this - the problems of life are there in the background of every foreground. You can paint your story in words across a very normal, Nathaniel Webster Strunk & White style guide canvas, or you can toss feathery paisleys at it and weave between the lines - holding up that canvas are the truths and realities we all deal with. This is another beautiful piece for the study of character. The imagery could be what the girl really sees in her drugged hazy thought processes, or could be a private journal she hugs to her chest at night as she plods through the too-harsh reality that spawned it. She has lost her love. She is broken hearted. She deals and soars, fades and screams quietly, and gets on with it.'
In "Dick for Eternity," Jeff Somers brings us a party, some guys you probably all know, if not by the names he gave them, then by their actions. Think "Weekend at Bernie's" in combination with Animal House. Be careful who you party with.
"Blue Chuck Does Thrill Town" by Heather Shaw and Tim Pratt. My journal says: `First off, there are a couple of controversial moments that could prevent this story from appealing to all audiences - granted. I don't even know a single way to describe this that would not either give too much away, or make you think it is silly and not worth your time - which would be a crime. This is one of my favorite storyies the entire book. From the not so subtle pun of the title itself, through each encounter, each play on words, this one had me grinning.'
Ian Grey brings us "The Last Clean Spot," and it's a doozy. Once again, with slight editing, I'm going to dip into my journal entry on the story. `Again, this is difficult to get into without giving important elements away. There are some keen observations from the protagonist, who is blasted and hanging in a club. There are some very good visuals of the denizens of said club, some of which seem like they might be real, and some of which you begin to suspect might be due to the "bale". Images that remain: A small pale triangle of skin. A deep sink with something sloshing around and moving in it - and then not. A tiny 1950s horror movie star famed for being small enough to manipulate the innards of big rubber monsters. Sex in the bathroom.'
"Cue The Circus Music Fantastic," by Frank Marcopolos is the story of three men, very unlikely men for the task, on a mission to discover The Canadian Dream - and not too picky about methods, laws, or reality - that is the theme we deal with here. Our protagonist is accompanying two hard-drinking, hard-gambling, hard-playing buddies on a trip into Canada. They are after hookers and cards and good ways to loose their moneys (and livers). He is after - well, it isn't clear. He wants someone to explain The Canadian Dream.
"A Dangerous Day," By Douglas W. Texter is one of the more purely science fiction pieces in the book. A weapon of mass destruction has been created ( and no, George W. didn't find it ). This story deals with one of the creators of such a weapon, the spirit of revolution, and the futility of life.
In "The Defragmentation of Thomas Crane," Jeff Somers returns with his second tale of the book. When you de-fragment a hard drive, all the data is dragged to a big empty space, like for spring cleaning, then put back into better order leaving less clutter - more efficiency - even looking brighter (and you can TELL this because the horrible contrasting colors of your heavily fragmented drive come into harmony in the GUI display on the monitor ).
What if this happened to a life? What if that life already seemed efficient, and orderly, but . . .
"Highway To Hell," by Michael P. Belifiore is funny. If you have ever gotten stuck in a traffic jam, you'll find some amusing moments in this story. You'll recognize some of the others stuck there with you, as well, I'm guessing, and a lot of the thoughts, curses and irritants that haunt and hunger you at such a time will come to mind. The author obviously had run writing it. Think of James Wood and animated characters.
Arguably the strongest piece in the book is "Perhaps the Snail," by James Maxey. This is an erotic tail. Yes, there is a snail. And a groupie. And a Mosh Pit. And .... A hammer, a gun, and a great white whale. This story slides from image to image very carefully, much like the snail that inhabits the words. Young girl - star-struck. Words to lyrics that no one ever really figures out. Words written by artists that even the people who worship the artist just don't get - and if they did, wouldn't understand why they worshipped. Powerful and compelling.
"Long Island Iced Tea," by Michael Hemmingson is the longest piece in the anthology. Alanis Morisette needs to read this story to understand better the meaning of irony. One bad thing leads to another bad thing, misunderstandings breed misunderstandings, but no spoilers. This is Himmingson's second contribution to the book.
Overall, this is a very strong collection of stories. Anthologies tend to ride on the strength of a few stories, or on the names of a few tried-and-true marketable authors. Neither is true of The Urban Bizarre. The best thing one can say about The Urban Bizarre, is that it is both.
NOTE: Anyone truly interested in EVERYTHING I thought about the book can wade through the piles of dreck in the Live Journal - http://www.livejournal.com/users/deep_bluze/
A Winner That Should Be On Every Shelf! Jan 13, 2005
Tired of the `same old, same old'? Weary of pointless collections of weary old concepts? Well, we have a tasty treat for you right here, guaranteed to banish the blahs! It's served up by new writing sensation Nick Mamatas (author of the merely brilliant and future award-winning Lovecraftian Beat novel `Move Under Ground', which if you don't have, you should rush out and get immediately!), and is a veritable cornucopia of new genre-bending writers. Let's see; whadda ya like? Science fiction, horror, fantasy, modern urban fiction - you get a little of this, a little of that in these twelve new `Dangerous Visions' (with apologies to the master, but that's what this collection immediately reminded me of).
Now, all stories will not be to all tastes (and there's even a couple I personally didn't like at all), but jeeze, what fun! Especially enjoyable for me were `Highway to Hell' by Michael P. Belfiore and `Dick For Eternity' by Jeff Somers (I swear I was at that party!), while Jeff's other entry `The Defragmentation of Thomas Crane', Douglas W. Texter's `A Dangerous Day', Michael Hemmingson's `Long Island Iced Tea', and Charlie Anders' hilariously titled `Anxiety Branson, Social Security Hustler', are all nearly as good!
I'm not going to even try to summarize stories, but I rated them all out of `5', added a solid `5' for uniqueness of concept, divided by 13 to get an impressive average of 3.77, which works out to a 75% approval rating or close enough to four solid stars! Since this is from a small press, it's unlikely to provoke a sequel, unless we get the word out on the street to support this book (cheaper in paperback, but given Nick's heavy rep with me, I wanted it in hardback!).
Now you've been told and if you don't want more of the `same old, same old', do yourself a favor and fulfill your responsibilities as an educated consumer!