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Dark Forces: Part 2 –

Dark Forces: Part 2

Tuesday , 27, December 2022 1 Comment

I have read another seven stories in the Dark Forces anthology. By coincidence, two are Christmas stories.

Joyce Carol Oates, “The Bingo Master,: A 39 year old spinster decides she is going to lose her virginity. She struck out at some downtown bars. She ends up at a bingo hall and decides to go slumming with the plebes. She wins and takes up the bingo master to join him in his apartment. She undresses and he slaps her up saying this is not what he wants. The story ends. ? Rating: miss.

Gene Wolfe, “The Detective of Dreams,”: Late nineteenth occult investigator is hired find out the cause of recurring disturbing dreams in a town in Germany. A slow build up as he collects information on the dreams. The story ends as he determines a joke has been played upon. I don’t get the joke. Rating: miss.

Theodore Sturgeon, “Vengeance Is.”: Most of the story is told by a bartender to someone asking about a pair of bullies. They waylaid some travelers and raped the woman. Both died not long after. The last portion is the man at the bar calling a local doctor on the cause of death. The woman carried a condition that causes necrosis of the genital region if a man has sex with her. I at least knew what was going on with this story. Not top-shelf Sturgeon but he was old and would be dead in five years. Rating: pass.

Ramsey Campbell, “The Brood”: Story set in Liverpool as a veterinarian is woken at night by mewling in an abandoned house next door. He decides to check it out and go into the basement. Never go into the basement in an abandoned creepy building. This story is very nightmarish and packs a punch. It is Lovecraftian without being Lovecraftian. I imagined the story in black & white with scenery out of the movie Eraserhead. Rating: pass.

Clifford D. Simak, “The Whistling Well’: Simak went back to 1931 in Wonder Stories. I never associated him with weird, let along horror. He was always in science fiction magazines and never in Weird Tales. Non-fiction writer hired by his aunt to write a history of their family. He goes back to ancestral homestead of Civil War veteran who bought a farm. Strange things happen with shadowy dinosaur shapes materializing at night. The character is able to get out. The story is weird, not especially horrific. It is Clifford Simak attempting to write an H. P. Lovecraft story. It is an interesting oddity if nothing else. Rating: pass.

Russell Kirk, “The Peculiar Demesne”: Kirk wrote old fashioned weird stories, enough to fill out two Arkham House collections. “Demesne” features his alter ego, Manfred Arcane. A story set at Christmas in a fictional African country as Arcane invites people to his home for a party. He tells the story of dealing with a man who for lack of better word is a sorcerer. Some great atmosphere in this one. To fully get Kirk, you need to have a decent education as Manfred Arcane will throw out various comments that will go over the head of many readers. Rating: pass.

Lisa Tuttle, “Where the Stones Grow”: Story starts out in Devon with main character’s father found dead in a field with standing stones. The locals know better than to hang out at the place at night. Some vague comments about local myth. Character takes a job in San Antonio and buys a place. He notices some boulders are moving closer from an adjacent field. Tuttle kept the unbearable everyday life of a baby boomer under control in this story. Rating: pass.

So this week was much better than last week’s batch of stories. Kirk and Campbell won through with Simak carried over the finish line.

One Comment
  • JohnnyMac says:

    Russell Kirk also wrote three novels, two of which are weird fiction. They are “Old House of Fear” and two novels featuring Manfred Arcane “A Creature of the Twilight” (set in a fictional African country) and “Lord of the Hollow Dark”. The latter title is set in an ancient haunted house in Scotland. I would recommend all of them.

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