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Horrible Beginnings

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Horrible Beginnings
Horrible Beginnings Book Cover, edited by Steven H. Silver and Martin Harry Greenberg
Horrible Beginnings Book Cover, edited by Steven H. Silver and Martin Harry Greenberg
Author(s) Robert Bloch, Ramsey Campbell, Tanith Lee, Edward Bryant, F. Paul Wilson, Yvonne Navarro, Poppy Z. Brite, Gary A. Braumbeck, Henry Kuttner, Elizabeth Hand, Thomas K. Montleone and Kathe Koja
Steven H Silver and Martin Harry Greenberg (Editors)
Publisher DAW
Publication date March 4, 2003
Media type Mass Market Paperback
Length 320 Pages
ISBN 978-0756401238

For other uses of the word Succubus, see Succubus (disambiguation).


Horrible Beginnings is an anthology book written by Robert Bloch, Ramsey Campbell, Tanith Lee, Edward Bryant, F. Paul Wilson, Yvonne Navarro, Poppy Z. Brite, Gary A. Braumbeck, Henry Kuttner, Elizabeth Hand, Thomas K. Montleone and Kathe Koja. The work is edited by Steven H. Silver and Martin Harry Greenberg. In this work, the story They Only Come in Dreams tells the tale of a man meeting a Succubus and what transpires between them.


Overview

  • Title: Horrible Beginnings
  • Authors: Robert Bloch, Ramsey Campbell, Tanith Lee, Edward Bryant, F. Paul Wilson, Yvonne Navarro, Poppy Z. Brite, Gary A. Braumbeck, Henry Kuttner, Elizabeth Hand, Thomas K. Montleone and Kathe Koja
  • Editors: Steven H Silver and Martin Harry Greenberg
  • Published By: DAW
  • Length: 320 Pages
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • ISBN-10: 0756401232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756401238
  • Publishing Date: March 4, 2003


Plot Summary

To accompany Wondrous Beginnings and Magical Beginnings, collections of first-published stories by SF and fantasy writers, respectively, editors Silver and Greenberg present 17 horror-story debuts, usually introduced by their writers' reminiscences about them. The biggest names in horror and dark fantasy reach into the literary vaults and dig up their long-buried fiction debuts-with a brand new introduction to each story from the author.


  • Robert Bloch's Lilies could serve as an introduction to the whole book. By now it's odd to consider Bloch as a rough beginner, and Lilies gives no suggestion that he ever was. A nice understated ghost story is made more eerie by the mundane tone of the narration. Bloch is one of the few writers who can't provide his own introduction, and Stefan R. Diemianowicz offers no insight into the weaker moments of Bloch's craft.
  • Ramsey Campbell can and does speak for himself, and manages to add some humor to his tales of early authorial ineptitude before leading the way to The Church in High Street. This powerful service should provide some dark faith for writers still struggling for a voice, as well as being a nice addition to the Cthulhu mythos.
  • Tanith Lee shares a brief conversation about Eustace, a tale of true and truly creepy love.
  • Edward Bryant's poor victim has no love for the succubus who haunts him through They Only Come in Dreams, and his disproportionate fear of this friendliest of demons turns his haunting into a joke. The light tale is given a darkwash by a parting reminder of the demons' glacial persistence. The succubi at least explain their motivation.
  • The Cleaning Machine shows none, much to the frustration of F. Paul Wilson's detectives. This locked boilerroom mystery is made even more tangled by the only witness, a woman who seems to have lost touch with reality, making her confessions a bit of a joke between two hard-boiled lawmen. Only a thin dusting of evidence mutes the laughter. A little glint of humor can make throw the hidden shadows into a frightening relief, and the wicked gleam of these stories leaves some of the more lingering nightmares.
  • Yvonne Navarro reveals a very Surprise Fall and promptly hides the view, leading the reader still gaping.
  • Poppy Z. Brite never explains the origins of those who make Optional Music for Voice and Piano, and the alien nature of the music makes its power more haunting.
  • The porous wall between reality, magic and madness wavers and disappears under Amymone's Footsteps, and Gary A. Braumbeck feels no need to rebuild it for his desperate heroine or any lost readers.
  • Henry Kuttner's Graveyard Rats takes a leisurely jaunt to doom with a thoroughly unlikable gravedigger. Given enough time to know the nasty fellow, his gory death is rather satisfying, but sinister enough to grant him some uneasy sympathy.
  • Elizabeth Hand in Prince of Flowers gives the lovely toy to her kleptomaniac archivist, along with the strangest fate a cheap apartment can contain. A deal with the devil may not be the most original plot, but the slow agony of waiting for the punishment makes Colt .24 a delight of anxiety.
  • Agony in the Garden walks with a dying god through a world where faith lives only in the mad. Thomas K. Montleone helps the deity along, and leaves its dystopian technocracy with an abiding sense of unease, but no real fear.
  • Kathe Koja shows off her science fiction skills in Distances. The fight of the altered needleheads and their trainers to explore the wider universe is tense and packs a novel's depth into a deceptively short space, but the forgiving, optimistic ending takes it far away from the bleak realms of horror. Koja's writing in Distance is noticeably rougher than her later work, but well suited to the cyberpunk aesthetics of her story.


Book Reviews

The following review is from the Amazon.com book listing in the External Links below:

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • More for the die-hard horror guru
  • Reviewed On: March 8, 2003
  • Reviewed By: Harriet Klausner

This horror anthology provides fans with the introductory story that seventeen reader favorites started their illustrious respective career. The contributions are fun to read if only to compare the opening gamut of a renowned author with their most recent work. Each tale provides an introduction that brings further focus on the writer. The collection is well done with delightful selections from a virtual who's who of the genre, but the quality varies though none are horrible. As with Horrible Beginnings is more for the die-hard horror guru than the occasional horror reader.

External Links