Edward Lee, John Pelan, David Niall Wilson, and Brett Savory

S. P. Somtow

David B. Silva and Geoff Cooper

Shadowlands Press / 1999

WARNING!! This review has been rated NC-17 by the Lisa Early Warning System. Readers under the age of 17 caught reading these chapbooks will be forced to take a three-week family vacation in a hatchback. With a car-sick dog sharing the back seat. And adults, please, don’t get talked into buying these for kids loitering around the convenience store. There. My conscience is clear.

Of Pigs And Spiders is really the one of the three that deserves the strongest caution. Understand, the two short stories in this volume are well-written, enthralling, and original. It’s just that I was afraid someone would see the cover or read a snippet and yodel groceries. I kind of wished I could just to get it over with.

This is hardcore horror — violence, torture, gore, murder, and sex. These stories are amazing and revolting, like the most technicolour, scattered roadkill you’ve ever seen.

And, yes, both stories involve pigs and spiders.
On to the next chapbook.

Now, you already know the name Somtow is going to mean you’re into the good stuff. So, was it the big-name author or the subtle title, A Lap Dance With the Lobster Lady, that hooked you?

No matter. Either way you are in for a unique experience. Somtow has taken that old saw — the boy gets Lobster Lady, boy loses Lobster Lady, boy gets Lobster Lady — and given it a tweak that will drive you away from carnivals for life. (Not that that’s a bad thing…) If this one tale doesn’t pull you in, maybe you need to buy the full anthology, Strange Attraction. An anthology based on a sculpture? It probably wouldn’t work with any artist other than Lisa Snellings, but each of her pieces seem to contain at least one creepy story on its own.

On to the mildest of our chapbook selections! Remember: everything is relative.

Is the name Clark Ashton Smith familiar? If you were a fan of Weird Tales in the early part of this century, it was one you wouldn’t have forgotten. Smith, inventor of the lost continent Zothique, was one of the maestros of dark, dark fantasy.

Two From Zothique: A Chapbook brings you two original stories from The Lost Continent: New Tales of Zothique, a collection of works that reflect the tremendous impression Smith’s writings continue to have on some of our best authors in the genre. Pick up this little booklet and you will probably find yourself queuing up to buy the anthology and hungry to track down more of Smith’s stuff. It’s creepy, steeped in atmosphere, and brilliant. Give it a look.

Give all three chapbooks a look, and then look over your shoulder for a long while.