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DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

Revelations
edited by Douglas E. Winter
HarperPrism
450 pp/$24.00/ISBN 0-06-105246-9

Editor Winter originally intended this anthology to be called Millennium, "marking the close of the twentieth century...through a sequence of stories, one set in each decade of the past hundred years." Although the U.K. edition is still called Millennium, the book wound up entitled Revelations here in the United States. This title may actually be the better one, as the stories are revelatory of the imagination, craftsmanship, and intelligence of some remarkable writers.

The "horror" of Revelations is not derived from the supernatural or from a concept of human-as-monster psychopathology. It is, as Winter puts it, based in the fear of "that which can not be made safe." Revelations' eloquent, often moving stories serve as individual reminders that catastrophe, plague, and evil are always with us. Taken together they become a literary manifesto of what dark fiction could become -- should become if we are fortunate -- in the next decade.

Joe Lansdale's "The Big Blow" offers indelible rip-roaring characterization and cinematic imagery based in boxing, human prejudice and desperation, as well as the overwhelming natural force of a hurricane. The plague of the influenza epidemic in David Morrell's "If I Should Die Before I Wake," provides a structure for the author to quietly and memorably remind us that life is always an act of faith. F. Paul Wilson's "Aryans and Absinthe" is an utterly chilling look at how the hideous evil of the Nazi regime came to be. "Triads" by Poppy Z. Brite and Christa Faust draws us into a world of love, hate, pain, and devastation as an ancient civilization becomes a new order. Ramsey Campbell's unforgettable "The Word" takes some hilarious, serious, and amazing turns with his portrait of a fanzine editor and humanity's need for God.

It is almost unfair to single out any of these individual novellas, as all are consummately literate. Clive Barker's "wrap-around," and stories from Charles Grant, Whitley Strieber, David J. Schow and Craig Spector, Elizabeth Massie and Richard Christian Matheson each convey a sense of the always constant, but ever-changing darkness of our world. This is a book, these are stories, that make you think as well as feel. That is my highest personal accolade.-- Paula Guran

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Copyright © 2002 Paula Guran. All Rights Reserved.