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BOOK REVIEWS: October 1998
By Paula Guran

Extremities
Kathe Koja
Four Walls Eight Windows/pp. 202/$22
ISBN: 1-56858-122-X

book cover You don't just read Kathe Koja, you experience her words with a tactile sense of exploring forbidden territory. Unmarked with defined boundaries, in this terrain, there always seems to be another layer to penetrate, another level to ascend or descend to. With her first collection of short stories, Extremities, Koja adds to her already formidable reputation as a singular and remarkable literary voice. The author of five novels (The Cipher, Bad Brains, Skin, Strange Angels, and Kink, Koja is known for her sensuously descriptive poetic prose and characters pushed to artistic, obsessive, insane, and unexplainable extremes. There are no answers here, no pat structures to provide catharsis, no monsters save ourselves: these are disturbing tales that slip into your soul and possess you.

Big Rock Beat
Greg Kihn
Forge/pp. 352/$23.95
ISBN: 0-312-86756-5
(Also available in paperback)

book cover It's 1967 and the world teeters between the old and the new. Rock'n'roll is no longer just a teenage pastime but a force to shape the world. With Big Rock Beat, author Greg Kihn gets it all just right and he spins a thrills'n'chills story with a beat you can dance to. Kihn, an ex-rock god himself, has all the moves. He knows the music, the culture, and the shady entertainment world he's set his novel in. Now, with two previous novels (Horror Show and Shade of Pale) under his belt, he's got the licks to convey his talent for storytelling with sureness. In his first novel, Horror Show, the author introduced B-movie schlockmeister Landis Woodley and his odd crew. In Big Rock Beat it's ten year's after that book's plot-pivot movie, Cadaver, and its shocking consequences. Kihn reintroduces the motley lot (including horror icon The Great Luboff who everyone, including the author, thought died in the earlier book) and we all take off. This time out Woodley is making a teen music movie. His young cousin, Beau, a long-haired San Francisco musician, gets involved, as does sweetheart of a starlet Gayle, bombshell star Yvette Love, perennial teen Tad, and a host of others. The plot boils down to: Can the Power of Rock'n'Roll and the Pure of Heart overcome the forces of Evil, L.A. and a sinister hot rod that claims life after life? As hokey as it sounds, you'll find yourself humming along and tapping your foot to a backbeat you can't lose.

Dark Terrors 4: The Gollancz Book of Horror
Stephen Jones & David Sutton, editors
Gollancz/pp. 352/16.99
ISBN: 0-575-06581-8
(UK HC 1st Edition Reviewed; Paperback shown)

book cover Dark Terrors 4: The Gollancz Book of Horror provides, once again, the best fearful food for fans famished for original short modern horror fiction. Editors Stephen Jones and David Sutton provide a varied feast of dark delights that showcases the work of some of the best and brightest in the field today. Variety has its dangers, as the editors are fully aware, and it is unlikely that readers will find each tidbit of selected terror tasty, but they should find more than enough to satiate. One reader's favorite morsel from Poppy Z. Brite, Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, Neil Gaiman, David J. Schow, Michael Marshall Smith, Thomas Tessier, and the like included here might upset the tummy of another. That's really the point of any grouping of modern dark fiction -- the emotion of horror seldom effects everyone the same way and we shouldn't expect it to. The Dark Terror series has become a welcome annual respite from theme anthologies and a watermark of quality. It's a "must read"


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