Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

September 25, 2015

Review – Last Year, When We Were Young by Andrew McKiernan

Andrew McKiernan’s collection Last Year, When We Were Young (2014 from Satalyte Publishing) is a fine example of a strong writer testing his limits by stretching in different directions. As you might expect from an Australian writer with a well-deserved reputation for compelling dark fantasy and horror, outback ghosts and urban nightmares are represented.

One of my favourite stories appears early in this volume: “White Lines, White Crosses” is a grimly familiar tragedy of teenage isolation, testosterone-fuelled recklessness and car culture, with a smear of the supernatural to amp up the stakes. “The Memory of Water” is haunted by childhood memories of beach holidays tinged with tragedy. And “The Haunting that Jack Built” is a classic yarn of strange and sinister goings-on in a country town.

But McKiernan shows his range with some unexpected variations on theme and setting: the Middle East appears in modern and mythological states, in “The Dumbshow”, “The Desert Song”, “They Don’t Know That We Know What They Know” and the excellent clash of espionage, battles handed down across generations, old gods and chess in “Daivadana”. He does a creditable Stephen King-like grotesque in “The Final Degustation of Doctor Ernest Blenheim”. He does old-fashioned SF horror in “The Wanderer in the Darkness”. He even does a noir tragedy soaked in betrayal and cheap whiskey in “Torch Song”.

But where this collection stands out is in the weird and absurd corners. The title story is a brief piece of deranged survival horror set in the aftermath of a more than usually disturbing apocalypse. But the jewel in the crown is probably “All the Clowns in Clowntown”, which is perhaps a parable about surviving an epidemic or could be a metaphor for involuntary unionism or hostile corporatism, but in any case is probably the only story you will ever read about the last surviving resistance members of the clown counter-revolution.

Last Year, When We Were Young had a remarkably high hit rate for me. McKiernan’s quality as a short story writer is consistently strong across the collection. Highly recommended.

September 15, 2015

At the Edge anthology coming in 2016

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 2:53 pm

The news of the past day is leaving me with an acute case of advanced schadenfreude, so I’m not going to address it today. Instead I’ll turn to even happier (on a personal level) events.

One lovely bit of news that I’ve been sitting on for quite a while is that I have a new story coming out next year. The story is called “Seven Excerpts from Season One” and will appear in the 2016 anthology At the Edge from Paper Road Press in New Zealand. I won’t say too much about the story other than to vaguely describe it as my “Youtube high school ghost hunters” piece.

This planet has lovely sunsets. Mind the flying stingray monsters.

This planet has lovely sunsets. Mind the flying stingray monsters.

Quite apart from the sheer delight of getting accepted for publication, I am very excited to be sharing a table of contents again with my Brisbane writer-buddies Jodi Cleghorn and Tom Dullemond, who both also have work coming out (sooner or later) in The Lane of Unusual Traders. I love their stuff and can’t wait to read what they’ve done.

I’ll share more about At the Edge as information comes out. In the meantime, I plan to spend quite a lot of time admiring the lovely cover art from Wellington artist Emma Weakley.

 

Powered by WordPress