Reviewed by Sandra Unerman
This issue of Theaker’s Quarterly contains the first ever anthology of Unsplatterpunk stories. The concept is explained in Douglas Ogurek’s introduction, by analogy with a subgenre of death metal music. His aim was to put together extreme horror stories which offer a positive message within their tales of over-the-top violence and sexual deviation.
Inside that envelope, the five stories here cover a wide range. M.S.Swift’s A Desert of Shadow and Bone is probably the most bloodthirsty. It involves dismemberment, mass slaughter in the English countryside, class conflict and the worship of a more than usually gruesome pagan deity. The narrative jumps backwards and forwards but the action is not hard to follow and is vividly depicted.
Quand les queues s’allongerent by Antonella Coriander has a French title for the sake of a pun. It depicts a world in which women have to survive without men and attack those they find, before they are destroyed by an uncontrollable biological imperative. They cope remarkably well.
Drew Tapley’s The Fisherman’s Ring is a farce. It imagines a conclave for the election of a new Pope in which the cardinals compete in unconventional trials to find a winner.
The Armageddon Coat by Howard Watts compresses a plot which could have filled a novel into a short, intense story. In a post-apocalyptic setting, two teenagers travel across the USA and taste the emotions experienced by those who once wore the clothes they find. They fight savagely to escape an attack by other scavengers and their relationship deepens as they try to understand what has happened to their world.
Scrotal Quilt by Douglas Ogurek is a surrealist tale, full of wordplay and mutilation.
This anthology may be best enjoyed by horror fans but it makes an interesting sampler for general readers like me. I found all the stories memorable and thought-provoking in their different ways.
The striking cover art, also by Howard Watts, sets the mood effectively for the stories. The book also contains a reviews of Neil Gaiman’s stories, The Monarch of the Glen and Black Dog and of a selection of other material from fantasy game books, TV and film.