Monday, November 14, 2011

Superhorror

The Far Reaches of Fear (previously published as Superhorror [1976]), edited by Ramsey Campbell (1980) containing:

The Viaduct by Brian Lumley; Fog in My Throat by R. A. Lafferty; Christina by Daphne Castell; The Case of James Elmo Freebish by Joseph F. Pumilia; The Hunting Ground by David Drake; The Petey Car by Manly Wade Wellman; Wood by Robert Aickman; The Pattern by Ramsey Campbell and Dark Wings by Fritz Leiber.

Campbell's first original anthology really sees him come out of the gate running. Hell, his first three original anthologies (this, New Terrors and New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos) show a keen mind in the unfortunately not-all-that lucrative world of original horror anthologies. But the 1970's and early 1980's were somewhat financially kinder to the purveyors and writers of short stories.

As with New Terrors, the range of the stories is impressive: Castell's melancholy, M.R. James-tinged ghost story; Drake's terrifically tense tale of a wounded Viet Nam vet come home to a war with something inhumanly worse than the Viet Cong; Pumilia's homage to the EC horror comics of the 1950's; Lafferty's surprisingly understated (for Lafferty) tale of existential science-horror; Wellman's slice of homespun Appalachian creepiness; Leiber's X-rated tale of dopplegangers; Lumley's perfect, awful piece of childhood horror; Aickman's typically mysterious tale of clockwork toys and malign wood-working; and Campbell's own unusual take on predestination and fate.

It's a solid selection of stories under either this name or its original title of Superhorror (the latter hardcover has an awesomely creepy cover). I originally got the latter for 25 cents from the Tillsonburg library in about 1982. Highly recommended.

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