TALES OF FIRE AND ICE
edited by Sean O'Conner, 2022
This ambitious anthology contains works from twenty-one horror authors, some well-established, others up-and-coming. Only a few of the stories deal with human interference in Earth's ecology and it's quite a stretch in some cases.
“Fields of Ice” by Gemma Amor. Interesting that a book of stories about Climate Change—i.e., Global Warming—should begin on a glacier. In a dystopian future, the last archaeologist searches for an ancient secret that might save them all. It's a very engaging story, if a bit inconclusive, as it seems to end on a cliffhanger. 4/5
“The Wood on the Hill” by Clive Barker. Presented as a fairy tale, it's charming and a precursor to the talent Barker would show as an adult. 4/5
“Fear Sun” by Laird Barron. A heroine with heterochromatic eyes joins a plot to build a real-world replica of Lovecraft's Innsmouth. The story is a bit disjointed, and has nothing to do with the theme of climate change. 3/5
“No Story in It” by Ramsey Campbell. An aging writer hopes to help his family in a world fast going to Hell. Climate change is mentioned, but that's all. Still, the tale stays with you. 5/5
(At this point, I'm starting to wonder if the contributors were required to even mention climate change.)
“The Tower” by Richard Chizmar. Nope, no climate change here, but it's the best story so far. An old man in the shadow of a water tower recounts the horror that has come to town. 5/5
“Carriers” by Tananarive Due. Another good one, this time set in a believable dystopian near future. Issues of drought and plague ring particularly true for me as the story is set within a hundred miles of me. 5/5
“The Guardian” by Philip Fracassi. A tropical paradise becomes the vacation from Hell. Fast-paced, engaging, scary... and a non-ending that leaves the reader's mouth hanging open. 3/5
“Low Hanging Clouds” by T.E. Grau. An actual story about climate change! And a good one too, despite or because of its brevity. 5/5.
“Dead-Wood” by Joe Hill. A quick shot about the ghost of a tree that says a lot by saying very little. 5/5.
“Jude Confronts Global Warming” also by Joe Hill. The second of two barrels from Hill, equally brief. 4/5.
“Summer Thunder” by the last guy's dad. This is how the world ends. 5/5
“The Maid From the Ashes” by Gwendolyn Kiste. A variation of the “found children” legend, with a different way to frame a tale. It's a lengthy story about a girl and her house and I found it quite unique. 5/5
“Inundation” by John Langan. A new reason for climate change: merging parallel dimensions. While the story is left dangling, I doubt a traditional ending would have changed much. 4/5
“Love Perverts” by Sarah Langan. A different kind of coming-of-age tale, when a young sociopath (psychopath?) faces the Apocalypse. 5/5
“In the Cold, Dark Time” by Joe R. Lansdale. This is a nasty little tale. I love it. 5/5
“The Evolutionary” by Tim Lebbon. Poetic and dreamy, this is not a horror story at all, despite horrific images. I think I foretold/figured the ending, but I might be wrong. 4/5
“Teenage Graveyard Watchman” by Josh Malerman. Very well-written, very engaging and compelling. But sorry, I could not make heads or tails of the last line. 3/5
“Call the Name” by Adam L.G. Nevill. The longest story in the book is totally about climate change and the end of the Earth, as we're given a new take on a classic icon of horror. With a great start and an apocalyptic ending, our doom is imprinted on our genes. Clearly the best story in the book, allowing me to give it a score of 6/5. (My review, my numbering rules.)
“Black Queen” by Nuzo Onoh. Part cautionary tale and part fairy tale, this story tells of life in a primitive village in Twenty-First Century Nigeria. When foreign developers begin polluting the river (the Black Queen) and corrupting the village, one girl receives a visit from the dead—and a dire warning. 5/5
“Snow Angels” by Sarah Pinborough. Could use a few more commas, so the sentences will make more sense. Other than that, it's an engaging story, haunting and tragic, with much left unsaid, as it should be. 4/5
“Maw” by Priya Sharma. There's a couple silly misspellings, the most humorous being “feat” for “feast”, but it's a small thing. The bigger problem is that, despite being a compelling story, I had no idea what was going on. 3/5
“Mean Time” by Paul Tremblay. We end our “Revelations”with a brief visit to a Twilight Zone of madness and childhood mischief—and the consequences of one's actions. Maybe that's as good a way as any to end a book dedicated to the dangers of human-caused climate change. 4/5
4.5 stars, easily rounded up to 5.