In his fourth short-story collection, Watson again demonstrates the extraordinary scope of his imagination. The title story has ancient witchcraft meeting complacent modern suburbia in a tale of spine-chilling horror, while 'When the Timegate Failed' casts an unexpected light in the dangers of space travel and man's powers of self-delusion. Alien matters of a different kind crop up in 'Windows', in which mysterious artefacts found on Mars prove to be something of a problem for their chic human owners. Evil Water is a highly inventive collection which is a delight to read.
This fourth collection of stories by a prolific sci-fi author resembles nothing so much as a crazy quilt. The influence of writers as diverse as Hawthorne and Barthelme is obvious; in addition, Watson takes delight in throwing the reader off-balance. Satire is basic to "The Great Atlantic Swimming Race'' and ``On the Dream Channel Panel.'' ``When the Timegate Failed'' and ``When Idaho Dived'' are straight sci-fi, and ``Evil Water'' is vintage gothic. In the title story, Paul and his pregnant wife Alicia move to a small town that was once devastated by bubonic plague. Paul is sexually frustrated and ultimately seduced by a centuries-old witch who sees him as her meal ticket out of the village. In ``The Wire Around the World,'' a paean to peace, the narrator sacrifices himself to a beast-human who resembles a ``gross fat Buddha'' to prevent world war. The collection is inventive; veteran Watson is clearly in control of his material.