LOST SIGNALS: An anthology (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)
Have you ever heard those late night radio shows that revolve around crackpot conspiracy theories, aliens, teleportation, spirits, and just about anything that puts a speculative spin on this often time mundane life we share? I’m convinced the authors of the new anthology LOST SIGNALS (published by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing) are quite possibly the very people who eat late night conspiracy theories like candy, only they did us one better and wrote their madcap ponderings in the form of short stories.
LOST SIGNALS is a collection of short genre fiction that explores the dark side of technology. We’re talking radios, televisions, monitoring devices, video games—anything electronic—devices we use, enjoy, and even take for granted everyday of our lives.
The anthology starts kind of slow, with stories you would almost expect from the loose theme (radio is the most commonly used device for stories, but there is plenty of variety, so don’t worry too much about that), but once I read “The Givens Sensor Board” by Josh Malerman, I knew I was in for something good. This story creates its own technology, weaves a plausible story around it, and asks the reader a serious moral question, all with a mystery, deep atmosphere, and brilliant writing. I found myself thinking about this story for days after reading it.
Though there were only a half a dozen stories that affected me that deeply, there are only three stories that I didn’t like at all, which, considering this collection has twenty-four stories, are pretty good odds. “How the Light Gets In” by Michael Paul Gonzalez was the best of the desert stories (apparently deserts and creepy shit go hand in hand). “Eternity Lie in Its Radius” by Christopher Slatsky was a great look at the dark side of inspiration for a fledgling rock band.
LOST SIGNALS is punctuated by three stories that don’t fuck around. “Little Girl Blue, Cry Your Way Home” by Angelica Damien Walters and Paul Michael Anderson’s “All That You Leave Behind” will bring you to a crushing emotional plateau, particularly if you are a parent. You’ll never look at baby monitors and pregnancy the same way. To cap things off, we have James Newman’s “Something in the Code,” which is a horrific look at video games as told through blog posts, newspaper clippings, podcast excerpts, and government documents. It is rather genius in its execution and has a surprise ending that put a grand smile on my face and finished off the anthology about as well as any closing story I’ve ever read.
Max Booth III and Lori Michelle have put together quite a collection here with a nice mix of themes and stories told from a variety of viewpoints, some experimental and others more linear. These aren’t merely concept stories inspired by the call for weird fiction with the focus around electronics and transmissions, these are fleshed out, character driven pieces with plenty or horror and heart. Well done! (Robert Essig)