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The Imago Sequence and Other Stories

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,253 ratings  ·  336 reviews
The title story of this collection - a devilishly ironic riff on H. P. Lovecraft's "Pickman's model" - was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, while "Proboscis" was nominated for an International Horror Guild award and reprinted in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 19. In addition to his previously published work, this collection contains an original story. ...more
Hardcover, First Trade Edition, 248 pages
Published July 25th 2007 by Night Shade Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Bill Kerwin
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories

There is a great deal about Laird Barron's writing that I like very much. Unlike Stephen King (whose descriptive passages often resemble an exhaustive catalog of the contents of someone's pockets or purse), Barron has a poet's eye for detail and the knack for choosing the right phrase in order to fix a disgusting or disturbing detail in the reader's mind. But sometimes he also allows himself--something King would never do--to be distracted from the essential narrative by his own evocative detail
Dan Schwent
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dan by: Benoit Lelièvre
The Imago Sequence and Other Stories is a collection of short stories by Laird Barron.

This is Laird Barron's first short story collection and the fifth book of his I've read this year. I'm running out of ways to praise the man who has infected my brain like some kind of alien parasite.

Nine stories of sanity-blasting cosmic horror haunt its pages. Even though it's his first published collection, all of the Barronial bits are there: Chandler by way of Lovecraft prose, lonliness, helplessness, and
Sep 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
Based on the praise this book received and and how good the author's novel was, this was a HUGE disappointment. And the tricky thing about reviewing a book that so many have obviously liked or appreciated is the second guessing...did I really just not like this that much? Well, yes. Did the book show potential? Definitely. Were the stories original? To an extent, being mostly cosmic horror pastiches and classic horror inspired tales. Was it good? It might have been, but it really really didn't s ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Nov 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing

'Bliss is ephemeral; true for anyone or anything. The oceans have been decimated several times in the last billion years. Sterile waters in a clay bowl. Life returned unbidden on each occasion. The world slumbers, twitches and transforms. From the jelly, lizards crawled around the fetid swamps eating one another and dying, and being replaced by something else. Again, again, again, until you reach the inevitable conclusion of sky-rises, nuclear submarines, orbiting sattelites, and Homo Sapiens fo
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, short-stories
I didn't believe in curses. I believed in alcoholism, drug addiction and paranoid delusion. Put them in a shaker and you were bound to lose your marbles now and again.

Laird Barron's first collection, early 21st century weird fiction about masculinity and the American backwoods and aging and suffering and cracks and holes and hunger. There's a strong noir influence, and his protagonists tend to be over-the-hill men cognizant of what they've lost, drinking their pain away, driven to find and face
Adam Nevill
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've never forgotten my first encounters with certain horror collections, at different times in my life, that resonated with me - Lovecraft, Machen, Blackwood, Barker, T.E.D Klein, Ramsey Campbell, M John Harrison, Ligotti, Robert Aickman, among others. But they were books that transported me and made me want to write. I've come to Laird Barron relatively late, but I'm adding him to my pantheon of greats (and I don't use that word lightly). Just finished his first two single author works - THE ...more
Nancy Oakes
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: weird fiction, cosmic horror fans
Shelves: weird, horror
Very much a 4.5 on the star-rating chart; it is rare I find an anthology of stories where I like the bulk of the entire collection. This time there was only a couple that just didn't do it for me, otherwise, a most awesome weird fiction/horror read.

This is actually a reread for me; I first read this in 2007 when it was published, but I recently felt the need for reading horror and really couldn't remember much about this one, so I pulled it off my shelf. After finishing it this time, it came to
Maxine Marsh

Laird Barron is essential reading in the horror genre, case closed.

I dig his style. Let's be clear folks, this is not a fast-paced slasher, bogeyman-in-the-closet, call it like you see it type of writing, it's layered and poetic, so you will have to work. And that's fine with me, as a reader, because the payoff is exceptional. It is like one of those fuzzy white noise pictures that takes a while to get into focus but then an amazing picture rises to the surface.

Barron brings his characters into
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barron is very quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. I cannot believe it took me so long to pick up his books. This is the second collection I've read from him so far, and I'm going to have to go on a spending spree to get more from him. This is fantastic writing. This is writing that I crave and absolutely fall head over heels in love with. Barron's prose is brilliant, and the plots of his stories are equally as enchanting. And dark. Don't pick up Barron if you are looking for sunshine a ...more
I discovered Laird Barron's work last October, when I read "The Croning" ( and fell in love with his elegant and haunting work; obviously, I immediately got a copy of all his short story collections as soon as I had the chance. My favorite kind of horror is the subtle and cosmic kind, that works its way slowly into my mind as I read, like a really good peaty scotch that I don't notice I've had too much of until I get up. And that's kind of the best way to ...more
I've tried really hard to develop an appreciation for Laird Barron. I started with The Light is the Darkness and found my expectations outweighed what I was presented with. I've also read The Croning and considered it an overly wordy and bloated novel propped up by a great central concept. So I hoped getting a hold of one of his collections of shorter works might prove to be the gold that most everybody else has seemed to find when panning through Barron's works.

Sadly, The Imago Collection was m
Sep 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: New book shelf @ library
If you like H.P. Lovecraft and his modern successors like Caitlin Kiernan, then you'll probably like Barron. Though, to be sure, he only intermittently captures Lovecraft's creepiness or Kiernan's lyricism. In the end it all comes down to "did I enjoy reading these stories"? And, for the most part, the answer would be "yes."

"Old Virginia" - Set in the most paranoid days of the Cold War, a team of CIA operatives guards a couple of scientists and a mysterious patient (Old Virginia) in an isolated
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, weird
It's been over a week and I still have not been able to put together an intelligent review of this book. Several attempts have been utter disasters. I'm am having a difficult time expressing exactly why this book was so special to me. To me, Barron really conveys a sense of atmosphere or heaviness with his writing. There are times when it is difficult to determine whether the scene is dream, reality, nightmare or something in between. It's almost like looking in a cracked mirror, things don't qu ...more
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-in-2014, horror
This is the best horror book I have read for some time. Laird Barron is like a horror poet and his use of words is just incredible. All the stories were great, but I really loved "Bulldozer" which is a wild west horror story (how cool!). I also loved "The Imago Sequence" I found it very...absorbing. (chuckle, sorry) I know this is kind of like doing things in reverse, but after reading Barron I really want to check out Lovecraft! ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While this portends to be a series of stories set in the vein of Lovecraft, this fell very short of the mark. While two of the stories (Bulldozer and Parallax) were very well done, and the namesake story (the Imago Sequence) came close, the remainder of the stories were mediocre, at best.

There is a big difference between weird fiction that shows you glimpses of a world far darker and stranger than the real world, and fiction that doesn't really do much more than give confusing and disjointed ima
Benoit Lelièvre
Reading Laird Barron has become something of a life-affirming pleasure for me. Not only his stories delight me, but his storytelling skills are so sound I understand why I like them and why they're so great. Barron is like a champion boxers who mastered the jab. It's the simplest punch, you know he's coming, yet he catches you with it every single time. So many stories in this collection freaked me out. OLD VIRGINIA blindsided the crap out of me. PROCESSION OF THE BLACK SLOTH was elegant and cle ...more
Baal Of
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: percebes
Maybe I'm not smart enough for Laird Barron, or maybe it was the fact that I was reading most of this while under the influence of NSAIDs and muscle relaxers to deal with my sciatica, but I frequently found myself at the end of each story thinking "so what the fuck happened?". Then again, there is probably some amount of deliberate obscurantism going on here. I think that for a lot of this, the mystery and atmosphere requires, or at least heavily relies on, a lack of clarity. Barron's writing is ...more
Ross Lockhart
Jun 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I’m half convinced that Laird Barron is the love child of Jack London and H.P. Lovecraft, and his writing evokes both authors, fusing hardboiled naturalism with unflinching cosmic horror. Amazing stuff, well worth picking up for the title tale, an update of Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model,” but all nine stories are top-notch horror fiction in the vein of Lucius Shepard, Thomas Ligotti, or Peter Straub.
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this collection. There is much in it which I like, but I am also put off by aspects of the author's style.

His stories are cluttered with superfluous characters: consider, for example, the very long description (p.136) of persons at a party in "Hallucingenia" (an effective story in other respects). When I first read the tale, I was so annoyed at this tediously intrusive super-paragraph that I more or less skipped it; looking back, I don't see that I missed anything.

Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Laird Barron has got some pretty serious writing chops. I can’t remember the last time I had to look up so many words in the dictionary while reading. Strangely enough it didn’t bug me like I thought it would and I actually dug checking out the definitions.

The subject matter of these shorts are pretty freaking bleak and the prose is very dark and complex, but not overwhelmingly so. A great read for sure and a must for fans of cosmic horror.
Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, horror
This book collects stories previously published in various magazines within the last ten years. Coming highly praised by those who have read it, I wanted to try some more modern horror, hoping for something above and beyond the generic horror thrillers so common these days. I was not disappointed.

Many of the stories are set in Washington state (apparently where the author now resides) and a few landmarks and places crop up in more than one story, thereby going about developing a folklore and myt
Heidi Ward
I kind of went at Laird Barron’s oeuvre backwards. Though I had read “Old Virginia,” and “The Broadsword” in "new-Lovecraftian" anthologies, I picked up his excellent new novel The Croning before fully exploring either of his story collections (the other being Occultation). Of course I fell madly in fascinated disgust, and had to immediately devour everything he had in print. So I started at the beginning, with The Imago Sequence.

To read this set of stories, which range over a period of about s
Jason Parent
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Laird Barron is simply brilliant. Some of the best and most imaginative writing I've ever read. It is dense though, smart, heavy stuff that I can only read in segments, put down and absorb. This collection has no duds. Bulldozer gets the nod for being my favorite and also for having maybe my favorite opening line ever written (and yes I like it better than the opening of The Gunslinger... so shoot me, heh). ...more
May 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, anthology
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alexander Peterhans
Reads a bit like a pretentious Stephen King. Sometimes Barron's verbosity works, for example in the story Shiva, Open Your Eye, where the arch style shapes the character. In most of the stories I felt style was battling narrative, with the story losing out most of the time.

A couple of good stories, most just long and slow and ultimately forgettable.

Old Virginia - 4 stars
Shiva, Open Your Eye - 3.5 stars
Procession Of The Black Sloth - 3 stars
Bulldozer - 3 stars
Proboscis - 2 stars
Hallucigenia - 3.5
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Literally fantastic collection of short stories with varied themes and textures. Award-winning for good reason and compulsively readable. Laird Barron has a distinct voice and vision with a naturalistic style vying with an expansive vocabulary. His universe is dismal, hopeless, existentially cruel, populated with madmen and jaded adventurers. Cannot recommend highly enough.
Pearce Hansen
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The first thing that struck me about Imago was that, after having read it and Occultation – Laird’s second anthology – for the first time, I immediately turned around and read them both all over again. That’s never happened to me before with any other book – not sure what it means, just taking note.

Laird is often spoken of in the same breath with Thomas Ligotti, but they could not be more different. While I am in awe of Ligotti’s work, his universe is one of futility – of clockwork horrors that
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
This was a chore to get through. If this book is art, it's abstract art. I'm not ashamed to mention that abstract art is beyond my understanding. I'm not sophisticated enough for it.

I just didn't understand what was going on half the time. The story at the beginning and the end were the best and made the most sense to someone who is incapable of thinking in abstracts. I skipped Hallucigenia because it looked long and by then I already knew I probably wouldn't like it and ain't nobody got time f
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one batch of creep-ass stories. I pretty much loved this book, every story was a page turner and every one scared the crap out of me. I hate comparisons to other authors, like Lovecraft or Ligotti since the writing is totally different but, imagine Lovecraft's vision of faceless uncaring cosmic menace freed from the purple prose. Think Ligotti's faceless and nameless places and characters given a face and a soul we care about. These protagonists here are no less doomed but we actually ca ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I discovered Mr. Barron's books by accident. Cruising on Amazon, looking for new horror, something well-written, different and scary as hell. THE IMAGO SEQUENCE fulfilled all those criteria and then some. Laird's stories are Lovecraftian yet not Lovecraftian. Stylistically, he's nothing like Lovecraft, but the themes and concepts are there, masterfully re-worked for a modern age.

For me, the scariest story in the book was "Hallucigenia". Now whenever I drive past an old, delapidated barn, I thin
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Laird Barron, an expat Alaskan, is the author of several books, including The Imago Sequence and Other Stories; Swift to Chase; and Blood Standard. Currently, Barron lives in the Rondout Valley of New York State and is at work on tales about the evil that men do.

Photo credit belongs to Ardi Alspach

Agent: Janet Reid of New Leaf Literary & Media

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