In Douglas Thompson’s latest short story collection, the writer explores a surreal and hypnotic territory in a series of 31 stories. A recurring theme weaves through his tales from whence the collection derives both its strength and its title – the hazy subconscious realms of sleep. It is as though Thompson has appealed to the ancient god Neptune directly for inspiration, and indeed, he plumbs the depths, bringing back impressions of every day life which dove tail into alternate universes – such as “The Bicycle”, “Underpass”, and “Sunday Relatives” among others, and sentient landscapes as detailed in “Stations Are How Towns Dream”, “On Garnet Hill”, and the fascinating “The Topography of City Parks,” (co-written with Allen Ashley) in which a man charts the patterns of autumn leaves.
Thompson has no small gift of elevating those mundane moments into disorienting and hyper-real snapshots, such as the whirling narrative of “Central Station,” and a suicide attempt reeled back at the last minute in “Fallen Woman”, related in the second person voice to great affect. Thompson experiments with style and aims for the literary, roundly smacking it on the nose when the mood takes him, as it does in “The Flowers of Uncertainty,” which details the side-slipping narrative of a writer entangled with an assistant/lover who sabotages his life’s work, or the smartly bizarre “The Pleasures of Television” in which people no longer satisfy themselves with merely watching the tube — they embody it, broadcasting images from their bellies.
In addition to these particular highlighted selections, one begins to understand the overarching theme in stories like that of the collection’s title, “The Sleep Corporation” and in particular, the sinister and riveting “Hypnostra”, which does double duty as dark fiction and as near satirical commentary on the maniacal optimism of the self-help industry via a convention whose attendees discover that not only can they take their human potential to new, superhuman levels, but need not be weighed down by the same pesky morals as anyone else, either. Through it, Thompson gives definition to the modern day insecurities that plague the west in its quest for self-improvement. But the Sleep Corporation running the show is slippery – just when you think you have them figured out, reality itself seems up for contention.
Themes of water – and the fluidity of reality – make their appearances so often its hard not to see it everywhere within the collection as one starts looking. The Sleep Corporation makes for a fascinating and riveting read of intelligent and deeply layered fiction, and will most likely be enjoyed by readers who appreciate their fantastic crossed with darkness.
The Sleep Corporation by Douglas Thompson is published by The Exaggerated Press.
That’s right, I’m asking you to go back in time and fund this kickstarter for the time travel anthology, “Singular Irregularity” which, if funded, will feature my story “True Mileage Unknown” and give your standard capacitor-flux fueled DeLorean a run for its money.
The incentives are going like hot-cakes, but if they haven’t been sold already, I’ve contributed books, plus, I’ll edit your story. Yep, you heard it, I’ll whip your prose into shape and give you a critique on the content, and probably be unable to stop myself from restructuring your sentences. It’ll be almost as though . . . you’ve gone back in time and wrote an improved story!
There’s quite a few impressive talents already in the line-up; never fear, if this kickstarter remains unfunded, we shall be marched back from the respective timelines from whence we’ve come, without harm.
The line-up so far (in alphabetical order by first name, apparently):
Alex Shvartsman – The Hourglass Brigade
Brian K. Lowe – Foundering Fathers
D.F. Shultz – Arbiters
Emma Tonkin – The Neverending Patch Day
Ewan R. Chapman – A Time To Change The Present
G.D. Penman – Equinox
Holly Schofield – Alfie’s Choice
J.A. Inglis – Martin The Guinea Pig
James Dorr – The Master of Time
John Shade – Liminal House
John Taloni – The Long Haul
Julie Frost – Serendi-Bunny
Time’s Up – Kimber Grey
Liam Hogan – Fixed Point & Repeat Performance
Martin Rose – True Mileage Unknown
Michael Haynes – The Mistakes of the Past
Michael Milne – Destinations
Sarah Hans – The Light of Tomorrow
Shannon Fay – Sunny Days
Siera July – Gesundheit
Tais Teng – For The Greater Good of All
Thea Hutcheson – Postcards From Home
Tim Jeffreys & Martin Greaves – <500
Wendy Nikel – The Tea-Space Continuum
Grey Matter Press has asked fans to pick out their favorite stories from the Grey Matter Press catalog, and so Dread: A Head Full of Bad Dreams is on its way to you, featuring yours truly with a reprint of “How To Make A Human” originally published in Ominous Realities. It’s a great line up with amazing writers. I’m still rubbing my eyes to see names like “Zelazny” and “Maberry”, along with my talented wordsmith peers like Dunham, Stone, and so many other inimitable writers.
I think any writer whose story is picked by an editor who thinks highly enough of it to publish it in a ‘zine or an anthology, is always thrilled by the prospect. But there’s something special about having fans and dedicated readers who make their voices heard. In the words of Sally Field, “You like me! You really like me!”
I also hear Grey Matter is putting out a limited 100 print run of a special hard cover edition. Looks beautiful, created by the fine sensibilities of Victor Slepushkin and you can see it here.
Table of Contents:
(Alphabetical by Story Title)
AMNION – John Everson (Equilibrium Overturned)
ANGIE – John F.D. Taff (Ominous Realities)
CITY SONG – Trent Zelazny and Edward Morris (Dark Visions Two)
HEIRLOOM – Michael Laimo (Splatterlands)
HOUSESITTING – Ray Garton (Splatterlands)
HOW TO MAKE A HUMAN – Martin Rose (Ominous Realities)
MARTIAL LAW – JG Faherty (Equilibrium Overturned)
MISTER POCKETS – Jonathan Maberry (Dark Visions One)
MISTER WHITE – John C. Foster (Dark Visions Two)
MOONLIGHTING – Chad McKee (Dark Visions Two)
ON THE THRESHOLD – William Meikle (Ominous Realities)
PURE BLOOD AND EVERGREEN – Bracken MacLeod (Ominous Realities)
RELEASE – Jane Brooks and Peter Whitley (Dark Visions Two)
SECOND OPINION – Ray Garton (Dark Visions One)
SHOW ME – John F.D. Taff (Dark Visions One)
THE LAST ELF – T. Fox Dunham (Ominous Realities)
THE TROLL – Jonathan Balog (Dark Visions One)
THIS IS NOT A HORROR STORY – Tim Waggoner (Equilibrium Overturned)
THROUGH THE GHOSTLANDS – Rose Blackthorn (Equilibrium Overturned)
WORMHOLE by J. Daniel Stone (Dark Visions Two)
I’ve been remiss keeping updates lately.
The latest however, is good news, and it’s that Audible.com has released the audio version of My Loaded Gun, My Lonely Heart. The smooth talker Christian Rummel does an excellent job of bringing Vitus to life, everyone should be so lucky to have their work narrated thusly.
Anyone interested in getting ahold of a few copies of this for review purposes should get in touch with me at Mr.MartinRose@gmail.com. I’ve a limited number but anyone with a liking for audiobooks should feel welcome to drop me a line.
I wax rhapsodic on vultures today on Mary Robinette Kowal’s Blog for that book-type thing I’m calling My Loaded Gun, My Lonely Heart that came out on November 3 to book retailers everywhere. See what all the fuss is about, why don’t you.
Joe Mynhardt over at Crystal Lake was kind enough to feature me over at “The Deep End” blog where I talk about psychopaths with hearts of gold and human monsters in support of My Loaded Gun, My Lonely Heart, released this November 3. Stop by and give it a read and check out all the other entries where authors discuss facets of their stories and their writing process.