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Journal of No. 118


Strange California, edited by Jaym Gates and J. Daniel Batt @ 03:23 pm


 Anthology of weird fiction set in California. I know it's my own personal hang-up, but I'm always looking for a strong sense of place -- at least in a place I know and love well, like my home state. The stories within are kind of a mixed bag in terms of quality, and a mixed bag in terms of Californianess.

Before diving into the stories, I'll give a shout out to the artwork and illustrations, which were mainly the work of Batt. Nicely done. You certainly win me over with an opening map of California as an island, an image I love so much we have one on the wall now. Lots of the other illustrations for each story are also arresting. On the minus side, the book is printed on paper with a sort of grey fake foxing pattern that obtrude a bit much.

Some of the early stories are a bit to gonzo for my tastes. So is Lance Shoeman's "All This'll Be Yours", but this episode of Hoarders gone wrong somehow won me over. Tim Pratt's "A Sea Monster in the Bathtub" has exactly that California vibe I was looking for, and a great tale, even if it hews too closely to a predictable SJW fable than a fantasy that might take us anywhere. Chaz Brenchley's "Uncanny Valley" had me hooked, but didn't reach a destination. James Van Pelt's engaging "Five Dollars for a Ticket" does arrive at a destination, or will shortly. Meg Elison's "In Loving Memory" makes me glad I've only visited Hemet for the sailplaning, and not grown up there. Ezzy G. Languzzi's "Naranjas Inmortales" gets to the climax a bit too fast and glibly, but definitely caught my attention.
 

Journal of No. 118