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David Sutton & Stephen Jones – Dark Voices 4

Posted by demonik on September 7, 2007

David Sutton & Stephen Jones (eds.) – Dark Voices # 4: The Pan Book Of Horror (Pan, 1992)


Cover Illustration: Dave Carson

Christopher Fowler – On Edge
Graham Masterton – Absence Of Beast
Les Daniels – The Little Green Ones
Charles Gramlich – Razor White
Peter James – Propellor
John Brunner – They Take
Nicholas Royle – The Last Drop
David J. Schow – Pick Me Up
R. Chetwynd-Hayes – The Frankenstein Syndrome
Daniel Fox – High Flying, Adored
Bernard Donaghue – A Night With Claudette
Stephen Gallagher – Casey, Where He Lies
Peter Crowther – The Visitor
Tony J. Forder – Book End
Kim Newman – Week Woman
Philip J. Cockburn – Necrophiliac
Norman Partridge – Return Of The Shroud
W. Elizabeth Turner – Cold As Iron
Michael Marshall Smith – A Time Of Waiting
Joe R. Lansdale – By Bizarre Hands

Contributors’ notes

Joe R. Lansdale – By Bizarre Hands: Ever since his sister was molested and murdered Preacher Judd has had a thing about retarded girls and Halloween. So when he learns of the Widow Judd’s idiot daughter Cinderella he decides to do the Lord’s work …

Nobody ever accused Lansdale of being PC – many of his stories are written from the viewpoint of the type of Redneck celebrated by RevCo circa Beers, Steers And Queers – and this story is calculated to offend on several levels: incest, racism, violence against women …
His The Night They Missed The Horror Show and the Bram Stoker Award winning novella On The Far Side Of The Cadillac Desert With Dead Folk are cut from the same cloth and modern masterpieces IMO.

Philip J. Cockburn – Necrophiliac: Reminiscent of the type of short-short Norman Kaufman used to contribute to the mid-late Pan Horror‘s. A first person account of sex with dead folk, the unlovely narrator biting off more than he can chew when he digs up the luscious Ella.

Kim Newman – Week Woman: Peter Mysliwiec marries butch lesbian Madeleine Waters in a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby they can both obtain British nationality. Unfortunately, Mad the blushing bride takes the ceremony seriously and he can’t dissuade her that their marriage is a sham and that he is not really her husband. Worse, Mad has multiple personalities, each of them lasting seven days, so one week it is all Anne Diamond and afternoon TV, the next it is Eisensturzende Neubauten cassettes and suicide attempts (Newman fits more pop culture references into this and other stories than even Timothy Lea in the Confessions … novels), the third and she’s sex-mad loving wife of the year, etc. Peter loses his exasperated girlfriend Karen and very nearly his life when Mad goes into slasher movie mode and tortures him with household implements to the strains of Little Jimmy Osmond and Aled Jones. And things are about to get grimmer still.

R. Chetwynd-Hayes – The Frankenstein Syndrome: “Don’t let it attach itself to … anything that protrudes”. RCH was dismissive of his story It Came To Dinner on the grounds of it being (in his opinion) too violent and gory, having been pretty much written to order for Pan Horror #14. Seems to me that The Frankenstein Syndrome was his attempt at a Dark Voices story, hence the lashings of mutilation – you don’t get instances of “a lot of blood and torn gristle between his legs” in an Chetwynd-Hayes story as a rule.
This one begins in the usual jokey vein with well-to-do young oddball Morris Smith announcing to his devoted girlfriend Mary-Jane Jenkins that he is going to create a new life-form. Before long, he’s bred a maggot-like entity which feeds on semen and meat and can drain the warmth from any human it encounters. The head maggot is the length and shape of a python and tends to leap from the floor and get its mouth around any “protuberances”, and there are also several miniature versions of him slithering about the lab. Yes, it is surprisingly gross when you think of who penned it.

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