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Looming Low: Volume I
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Discussion > Buddy Read for May 2018: Looming Low Volume 1

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Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments Come one, come all! Join Bill H., M-T. , and Randolph in a buddy read of a recent acclaimed contemporary weird fiction and horror anthology, Looming Low Volume I .

This is Horror describes the book thus: "Looming Low is a huge collection of twenty-six new stories of weird fiction from Dim Shores publishing. Boasting a who’s who of weird fiction authors, one look at the roster is enough to have any fan thoroughly excited. And weighing in at more than three-hundred pages, it’s sure to keep even the most avid reader busy for a while." They further note: "While there is no thematic link between the stories, there is a palpable sense of unsettling dread woven throughout the collection as a whole. Each story may approach weird from an entirely different angle, from the mundanity of everyday life with a warped spin on it, to an apocalyptic science fiction piece imbued with layers of strange wonder. This anthology boasts almost every type of weird one can imagine."

Ginger Nuts of Horror says "it's truly a wonderful gathering of the freshest voices in weird fiction. It's would make an amazing starter kit for those looking to dip their toes in the pool of this type of story. But dip quick, there are things in these waters that bite."

If the glowing reviews don't make you want to read it, I should note that infamous contrarian and grumpy old man S.T. Joshi whines that too many of the voices in the volume are "new" and wonders where the really big names are while passive-aggressively dissing Justin Steele and snidly suggesting he just begged a few friends for stories on short notice. That sold me on buying the volume! ;-)

Looming Low Volume I is available as a trade paperback and an ebook. The kindle version is currently only $4.99. For 26 stories and 300 plus pages of original weird fiction and horror, that's a good price.


Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments Marie-Therese wrote: "S.T. Joshi whines that too many of the voices in the volume are "new" and wonders where the really big names are..."

Geez, that's hilarious. It's Looming Low Vol. 1, not "Big Names in Horror Vol. 1". Why would I be interested in an anthology that's packed with mostly big names?


Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments Bill wrote: "Geez, that's hilarious. It's Looming Low Vol. 1, not "Big Names in Horror Vol. 1". Why would I be interested in an anthology that's packed with mostly big names? "

Yeah, it's peak current Joshi. The man has become a caricature of himself. I might be sad about it if I weren't so busy laughing and rolling my eyes.


Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments So when shall we start?


Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments Sorry about the seeming bait-and-switch, Randolph! I'm starting this, and will post notes soon.

Look forward to the Wehunt. Is that boo good or boo bad for The Convexity?


message 6: by Marie-Therese (last edited May 20, 2018 10:57PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments Ack! Sorry, gents! Meant to reply earlier that, yes, I have started this. I'm just coming up on the Wehunt story and hope to read a bit before bed tonight.

I found 'The Convexity of Our Youth' perplexing. It's not a badly written tale as these types of satire go but it was so opaque that I just couldn't get into it. It left me scratching my head and wondering if what I just read had any sort of point. Kind of reminded me of the last Ben Marcus story I tried to read (at least this one was short).*

I kind of agree with Randolph on the Wise's 'The Stories We Tell About Ghosts'. Definite "gotta catch 'em all!" feel, the ubiquitous kids who don't actually sound or act like any children I know, and a story that doesn't feel fresh. Not so much a bad tale as a tired one.

*Edited to add that I just now see that the TOC for 'Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume 5', to be published in October, includes 'The Convexity of Youth'. Huh.


Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments Marie-Therese wrote: "Edited to add that I just now see that the TOC for 'Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume 5', to be published in October, includes 'The Convexity of Youth'."
Ah, I was just wondering when they'll announce this.

That's a very Pan's Labyrinth cover. Nice though.


Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments Randolph wrote: "The Wehunt story is fabulous. Now we’re talkin’."

Yes, it is. Wehunt somehow always manages to imbue his characters with deep humanity no matter how brief the story in which they feature. He's one of the few writers in this genre (Nathan Ballingrud is another) who can evoke me in me feelings of affection, sympathy, and sadness as well as unease and terror.

The Evenson story was very good, too. Verging almost on SF like his short novel The Warren.

While less powerful than the two above, I liked Livia Llewellyn's 'The Gin House, 1935'. Sort of a weird fiction Bonnie and Clyde story. Llewellyn has great control over her rich, not quite baroque, prose, keeping the pace from dragging despite the near surfeit of detail. I need to read more work by her.


Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments "The Convexity of Youth" was at least funny and clever. I of course appreciated the central idea of "The Stories We Tell About Ghosts", but I think it's all over the place. As Marie-Therese quipped, tired.

I understand I'm entering a good stretch next. Looking forward.


message 10: by Bill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments The Wehunt *is* really nice. I liked Greener Pastures ok, but this story is much better than anything I remember from the collection.

I see "The Convexity of Our Youth" got a Shirley Jackson nomination, but not the Wehunt story. I can't agree with that at all.


message 11: by Bill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments "The Second Door" is pretty classic Evenson, with its claustrophobia, high anxiety, and identity confusion.

Nothing else is sticking with me so far. I started the Kaaron Warren, and am already having trouble with it.


message 12: by Bill (last edited May 25, 2018 06:33PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments Lisa Hannett's "Outside, A Drifter": isn't Yev supposed to suggest a Russian/Central European backdrop? Why are Yev's cuts mostly Italian? (Ok, I'm picking nits, sorry. But I'm a big fan of cured meats, and this bothers me.)


message 13: by Bill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments I've never been able to warm up to Michael Cisco. Sorry.

I think Miskowski's "Alligator Point" is a good example of why it's so hard to pull off successful weird/dark fiction. I really appreciate the tantalizing hints of what had just happened before the road trip, and Miskowski's refusal to spell out the details. But the story never developed the kind of tension and dread that I love in my favorites.


message 14: by Bill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments The Nadia Bulkin story is charming and well-executed; one of her lighter pieces.

Gemma Files' "Distant Dark Places" is typical of my experiences with her work: good ideas, but long winded.

I'm done. Isn't anyone else bothered by Italian cured meats sliced out of a Russian character?


Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments "I'm done. Isn't anyone else bothered by Italian cured meats sliced out of a Russian character?"

Ha ha! I just read that story last night. I thought it was ridiculous. It did not work for me in any way.

I felt precisely the same thing with 'Alligator Point'. Really strong atmospheric writing but no pay off and probably no way to deliver one in such a short form. Still liked it, though. I would seek out more by Miskowski.

Cisco consistently does nothing for me. I can admire all the pretty words strung together but they never paint a compelling picture. This story just read like verbal onanism to me with Cisco jerking off to juvenile ideas of evil and cool. I'm not 15, that's not enough.

I found Anya Martin's "Boisea Trivittata" well done. The way it brought together the personal and the political reminded me of some classic feminist speculative fiction from the 70s and 80s. Must seek out more from Martin.

I also like the trippy weird "The Small Deaths of Skin and Plastic". Working with really limited narrative material, DeMeester crafted what was, for me, a nightmarish, riveting tale.


Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments Just finished the Bulkin story and really liked it. I haven't read her short story collection but I know Bill has. How does this story compare with those in her collection, Bill? If I recall correctly, you weren't overly impressed with the book.


message 17: by Bill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments Marie-Therese wrote: "How does this story compare with those in her collection, Bill?"
I actually thought the collection was enjoyable, if a little uneven. I loved the first story "Intertropical Convergence Zone", with the dark magic realist goings-on against a harsh modern Indonesian backdrop. The collection also has relatively lighter pieces set in Western landscapes, kind of like "Live Through This".


message 18: by Bill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments Randolph wrote: "There have been some good pieces but I tend to focus on the ones that disappoint for comments."
How was the spa visit, Randolph?


Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments Bill wrote: "I actually thought the collection was enjoyable, if a little uneven."

Good to know. I'll keep it on my TBR list.

Randolph wrote: "There have been some good pieces but I tend to focus on the ones that disappoint for comments."

Ha ha! I know I tend to do that, too. I almost let loose a volley of nasty comments on the Griffin story in this collection, 'The Sound of Black Dissects the Sun', but then decided it probably didn't merit that much negativity (let's just say I found it long, tiresome, and deeply silly in the same way I find much of Ligotti's work).

I'm down to the final story (Gemma File's 'Distant Dark Places') and feel like this has been a good anthology over all. Some low spots but enough highlights to make up for them. Well worth the paltry price for me.


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