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.