Weird Lies. Book review

Edited by Cherry Potts & Katy Derby
Arachne Press, p/b, £9.99, LINK
Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

Eighteen months of story reading has created this book of the strangest fiction around a science fiction, fantasy and generally strange style. These have all appeared on the Liars’ League website courtesy of Cherry and Katy, the tireless editors who had previously dreamed of having a book published there and with a title like Weird Lies, they must have had to look through their archives for the most peculiar stories they had.

I have read other strange anthologies before, but in here there are mirrors that predict the future, tadpoles, lazy assassins, prisoners, deals with the devil and a museum which shows off exhibits from dustbins. This book is recommended for those who like the twist in the tale that Roald Dahl was so famous for. It is a tidy collection of story nuggets that are easy to read but might make you feel the benefit of not being the characters you’ve just read about. Endorsed by Sophie Aldred who played the Doctor’s companion Ace in Doctor Who, it is a well thought out collection of stories squeezed into a pocket -sized blue edition with a cover image that doesn’t look so weird as to put you off.

Some of these stories border on flash fiction that gives us a brief look into the lives of many people who incidentally lead what these writers describe as weird lives. In a kingdom, a prince is given a present of an ice sculpture in the form of a naked woman that comes to life thanks to his kiss, but she won’t last for long. With the “Icicle,” by C.T. Kingston, a bit of the fairy tale applies to the prince as its love at first sight. “Haiku Short, Parakeet Prawns, Konnichiwa Peter,” by Lee Reynoldson is of factory worker, Peter who  tires of his dreary life, at night dreaming that he is a man in Japan with its beautiful natural scenery and interesting people. Its ending is nothing more than the character’s wish fulfilment granted and who can blame him?  “Icosi Bladed Scissors,” by Alex Smith is just as strange. Basil is met by an assassin, Baochi who gives him a choice; he can listen to her tale of how she got the blades for her new fan, and live but for Basil, living might not be what he truly wants. Love is tested to the max with “Candyfloss,” by Maria Kyle when a lover’s girl is put on medication for her depression. Her dreams are what keep her sane, but the meds make her dream less. It’s a haunting tale, but one that ends with some glimmer of hope.

Weird Lies: Science Fiction, Fantasy & Strange Stories from Liars’ League is for those who have always wanted to read a short story on a bus or on the way to an appointment and satisfies in the same way a standard short story or novel would.