STRANGE WEATHER

SFX - - Reviews - Jonathan Wright

re­leased OUT NOW! 434 pages | Hard­back/ebook

Au­thor Joe Hill Pub­lisher Gol­lancz In the age of the word pro­ces­sor, more is more when it comes to nov­els. That’s not nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing, but there are days when, as a reader, you yearn for the kind of short-sharp-shock fic­tion that you can read quickly.

En­ter Joe Hill, who, af­ter do­ing the big-novel-ex­plor­ing­big-ideas thing him­self with end-of-the-world tale The Fire­man, has now gone in the other di­rec­tion with a col­lec­tion of four short nov­els writ­ten, ac­cord­ing to an af­ter­word, “in long­hand over the course of four years”. The short novel, says Hill, is a form he likes be­cause it’s “all killer, no filler”.

So does Hill suc­ceed in writ­ing mur­der­ous prose? Al­most. It’s only in the last 20 or so pages of “Snap­shot”, where Hill seems to sketch out the novel he might have writ­ten as a way to fin­ish his tale of a kid who finds an el­dritch cam­era that steals mem­o­ries, that stan­dards slip. In this case, the tale might bet­ter have been left as a short story.

But even so, you keep read­ing, just as you do with the other tales here: “Loaded”, an ex­plo­ration of what it means to be a gun owner; the eco-para­ble “Rain”; and the hal­lu­ci­na­tory “Aloft”, the tale of a parachutist and a strange cloud for­ma­tion. A dis­parate bunch, but what unites them is a Twi­light Zone-like com­bi­na­tion of crisp­ness and creepi­ness. Mostly killer.

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