Tuesday 3 June 2014

Dark Review - Ominous Realities

Ominous Realities Review

By Casey Douglass


Ominous Realities

If you are a fan of happy endings, I wouldn’t pick up a copy of Grey Matter Press’ Ominous Realities. Some of the tales inside might not have a particularly bad ending, but even those don’t come anywhere near happy. If happy was an exclusive VIP bar where all of the drinks are free, these stories linger two blocks away huddled around burning tires fighting over who gets to swig the turpentine next.

Sixteen stories are contained within, each offering the authors’ own takes on speculative fiction and reality, from hellish beings to apocalyptic end of times survivalists struggling to keep humanity going.

The stories are:

“How to Make a Human” by Martin Rose is a tale of robots trying to recreate the extinct human race.

“Angie” by John F.D. Taff is the tasty survival tale of a bickering couple during a zombie-type apocalypse.

“On the Threshold” by William Meikle is a tale of boffins bringing dangerous things into our own reality.

“Doyoshota” by Ken Altabef is the story of a strange background hum that residents of Doyoshota begin to hear one day.

“Third Offense” by Gregory L. Norris follows an unhappy soul who just wants to express himself in a world of advertising and stifled creativity.

“Metamorphosis” by J. Daniel Stone follows a brother and sister on a subway ride that opens their eyes to a whole new aspect of the world.

“We Are Hale, We Are Whole” by Eric Del Carlo depicts a future where people are paid in health credits and the ones with the deadliest jobs gain the most whilst risking it all.

“Pure Blood and Evergreen” by Bracken MacLeod is set in an internment camp and tells the tribulations of two strangers who develop a painful friendship.

“John, Paul, Xavier, Ironside and George (But Not Vincent)” by Hugh A.D. Spencer tells the story of a world beset by dangerous clouds of nano-bots ripping everything asunder and one man’s job of caring for a disabled man in the final days of his life.

“And the Hunter, Home from the Hill” by Edward Morris is a quirky look at superhero tales and what they might really be based on.

“Born Bad” by Jonathan Balog delves into the topic of good and evil and nature against nurture. Which will prevail?

“The Last Bastion of Space” by Ewan C. Forbes shows a world where corporations pay people for the unused capacity in their brains.

“Every Soul is a Grimoire” by Allen Griffin is a story of the occult, madness and the perils of dabbling.

“From the East” by Alice Goldfuss follows a scientist lost in a jungle and desperately trying to work out what has brought about the end of humanity.

“Deciding Identity” by Paul Williams is the tale of two parallel worlds about to collide and a vote to decide which will be destroyed.

“The Last Elf” by T. Fox Dunham is a tale of the hunt for and extermination of the thing that brings man false hope.

I enjoyed reading all of the stories in Ominous Realities but the couple of stand-out ones for me were We Are Hale, We Are Whole and Deciding Identity. The former just intrigued me with its look at the question of taking the safe route through life or going all out and hoping for something great to come of it. The latter I enjoyed because it was written in a clever alternating paragraph way and gave the ending that I didn’t expect.

I would recommend Ominous Realities to anyone who enjoys dark and apocalyptic fiction, and who used to enjoy The Outer Limits kind of ending, where the best outcome you might hope for was somewhere between the poles of happy or sad.

Ominous Realities is bleak, in a cerebral and satisfying way.

Check out the Grey Matter Press page for Ominous Realities here.

Rating: 4/5

You might also like to check out my review of Grey Matter Press’ Splatterlands here. A compilation of splatterpunk stories that make you feel dirty for reading them.