A breathtaking collection of wonders and horrors—including robotic surrogate parents and zombie voters—from a new acknowledged master of darkest fantasy
Whether speculating on an all-too-possible future or plumbing the stygian depths of supernatural evil and human degradation, Dale Bailey’s award-winning short fiction has been justifiably compared to the work of some of the true giants in the field—Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Theodore Sturgeon, to name but a few. In this first collection of astonishing stories, the acclaimed author of the modern horror masterworks The Fallen and House of Bones demonstrates his remarkable range with tales that exhilarate, terrify, and touch the soul.
A young boy comes of age on a secluded farm that grows a particularly grisly crop. The dead rise up to cast their ballots in a close presidential election. An assassin plots his next kill from inside the body of someone frighteningly close to the victim. An African American census taker discovers a hidden bayou town where time has stopped at a nightmarish point in history. Bailey takes readers inside the tents of a circus of shadows and explores an expectant father’s dark and terrible legacy for his unborn child. This extraordinary collection runs the gamut from fantasy to horror, from science fiction to heartbreaking reality, speaking in voices, old and young, that brilliantly capture the light and the darkness of their ingeniously imagined worlds. Includes the Nebula Award–nominated novelette, “The Resurrection Man’s Legacy.”
In Bailey's somber story collection, his first, tension often radiates from the uneasy relationship between parent and child, and the dead seldom rest easy. In the title tale, a 12-year-old boy copes with the unwelcome gift of a "simulated person" to fill the emotional gap left by his father's death. The moody "Death and Suffrage" begins with the blackly comic premise of the dead rising to vote in a close presidential election, but drifts to a lonely, if inconclusive, ending. Meanwhile, zombies of a different sort, bodies grown to provide organs for transplant, provide the gritty, grisly setting for "The Anencephalic Fields." The dark-touched souls of the small-town characters of "Quinn's Way," "Touched" and "The Census Taker" bring to mind the deft chill of Ray Bradbury's early work. With his thoughtful, frequently elegiac prose, Bailey has a knack for crisp, compelling family drama strung on a web of fantasy.