by Steve Redwood
Dog Horn Publishing
Awards: Longlisted, British Fantasy Society Best Short Story Collection
is the author of two novels: the BFS nominated Fisher of Devils (Prime Books, 2003), and Who Needs Cleopatra? (Reverb, 2005). He lives in Madrid.
with Steve Redwood.
was a manic concentration in his actions, something desperate, almost
brutal, in the way he jammed the neck of the bottle deep into the
dog’s mouth. As it were an enemy, rather than
a creature he was trying to help
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
first encountered Steve Redwood’s work in 2004 when reading (and
reviewing) The Heisenberg Mutation,
a chapbook from D Press, featuring four of his tales. Since then I
lost trace of him, mainly because, being a fan of short fiction I
missed his two successful novels. Now I’m pleased to be
reacquainted with this interesting author in the occasion of his
debut short story collection.
fiction can be placed somewhere between horror and SF, but with a
peculiar touch of humour and irony which sometimes are a mere
undercurrent and sometimes overtly constitute the very atmosphere of
the story. Due to my confirmed dislike for humorous fiction, some of
the stories included in the present collection simply don’t work for
me, but this doesn’t mean they are unworthy. Just please notice that
there are quite a few of them so if you’re interested in that subgenre
you may want to secure a copy of the volume as soon as possible.
I did enjoy, however, one of the humorous pieces, the entertaining Thank You For Your Submission revolving around the persistent attempts by a wannabe writer to have a story accepted by a literary magazine.
Anyway, if, like me, you don’t care for dark humour, rest assured that
Redwood has many other cards to play as the remaining stories clearly
show. Damaged is a delightful tale on the SF side where women are rented, exchanged, serviced. But somehow, feelings can still prevail…
done more than could ever been expected of him. Not only renewed her
twice already, but even been prepared to do it a third time! … He
doubted if anyone else in the City had ever kept a woman out as long
as that without a Service, certainly not one as damaged as she had
been.Maybe I’m wrong but I think that an earlier, equally poignant, version
of the same story had previously appeared in the D Press booklet under
the title Off the Shelf.
The Road to Damascus
is a tongue-in-cheek piece depicting a future in which the human race
has disappeared and humans can be considered only as funny creatures of
a long gone past.
Phantom Verdict cleverly portraits a serious, thoughtful, but extremely boring husband
didn’t have children, though we did occasionally have sex, since
that’s what respectable couples are supposed to do. His
well-behaved penis would politely doff its cap and slide in and out
of me like a metronome, and he always seemed slightly ashamed after
orgasm and quickly withdrew, though on good nights he would stay
there beside me for all of a minute, before, with a kind of crabwise
furtive moment, slipping out of bed and going to wash himself. All
those nasty germs we keep inside our vaginas were something beyond
his control, chaotic, something to be avoided
deeply disturbing Jeanne describes
the ambiguous and strange relationship between a man and a young
girl, while Going Back
very effectively develops the theme of remorse haunting a man after a
violent and tragic deed committed under the influence of alcohol and
the gloomy Bait offers
a grim vision of an alien religion in which the meaning of
suffering, sickness and death is questioned.
the compelling Expiry Date
a haunted calendar shows, day after day, scenes from the past life of
a young misogynist, heralding the final vengeance by a four-hundred-year old witch.
favourite story is the excellent, tense and atmospheric Epiphany
In the Sun, where the journey across
Turkey of an unfaithful man and his fiancée is spoiled by the
finding of a dying dog and the subsequent events. The well-told tale
is graced by an excellent characterization and an insightful analysis
of the frailty of the relationship between the man and the woman.
glanced helplessly behind, but the small crowd across the road was
now fully occupied with the drama of the dog….The reason nobody
had noticed the assault was now apparent: an ugly pool of white
flecked with yellow was seeping into the ground in front of the dog’s
head. The man, still kneeling, looked up as she reached him,
excitement and triumph animating his face…
good fiction, definitely worth a try.
please, John, get me away from here!”
noticed her expression.
“Cathy, what’s happened?”
face was disfigured with humiliation. “Just get me out of here for