Many things have conspired to keep me too busy to read more than one book in the last two weeks, and that book was an epic fantasy, which I don't review here. But I've some good news! At times, I go on binges of reading short story compilations. In 2011 I came across one written by indie author +J. Allen Fielder, and reviewed it on my fantasy review blog, Best in Fantasy, because I loved the book and only had the one venue for reviewing books. In fact, this was why we created The Dark Side Book Review and began reviewing the many fine books NOT in the fantasy genre here.
I met the author in January 2011 through ABNA and was immediately struck by his wry wit and crazy sense of humor. Based on my impressions of him I bought his book as soon as he published it.
I loved 'Voices in the Field' because Fielder went back to the roots of science-fiction. I felt then and I still feel that this book is a thinking-person's sort of book. There are morality tales, and tales that are simply meant to make you go "hmm...."
"Voices in the Field" is a collection of short stories by J. Allen Fielder. Titles include previously published and unpublished short stories, from the eponymous "Voices in the Field," to the humorously creepy "Mom's Eye View," these stories were written to thrill, chill, and make the reader wonder "What the hell is wrong with this guy?" Other titles include "Liquid," "Truck Stop Love," and "Homemade Pie." Stories range from horror, to mystery, to children's . . . and various points in between
I must say, Fielder delivered on his promises!
In the first tale, which the book takes its title from, Fielder introduces us to a man whose car has broken down along a rural stretch of highway. This tale is both homey, and frightening, with a sort of Stephen King intensity. Harold is a 71 year old academic who has taken a less traveled route from Kansas State college on his back home to Corinthian College. Alas, this road is exceedingly less well traveled, and Harold's car breaks down. Being a naturally cheerful sort, he settles in to wait for a passing car to get help. To while away the time, he records his thoughts on the machine that he uses to record his notes on. He is a bit old fashioned, and doesn't have a mobile phone. He soon regrets having taken the back road. This is an unsettling story and it sets the tone for the rest of the book very well.
For those of us who are fans of horror, the fourth tale, 'Liquid' is one of the creepiest tales I have ever read. A doctor at the top of his craft is the victim of an attack that completely changes his life. It is a terrible case of 'There but for the grace of God go I', taken to an appalling extreme.
I must say, that I may never eat a pot pie again, having read 'Homemade Pie'. The twist at the end of this tale is a real surprise, and gruesome though the tale is, it is one of my favorites.
'Cowboy Up' is the tale of an urban cowboy with an identity crisis, and a marriage proposal gone awry.
'The Party Pooper' is an extremely graphic tale of two buddies who make porn films in their spare time. These are men whom I wouldn't want to know, but hey - it's all in good fun. (NOT!)
The book ends with 'Weight' a tale of a young man who has suffered a lifetime of abuse for being obese. It is not a long tale, but it is the sort of tale that would have found its way onto 'The Twilight Zone' back in the heyday of morality tales.
I could practically hear Rod Serling 's voice introducing each of these well crafted and deliciously thought-provoking tales!
All in all, J. Allen Fielder has written a wonderfully creepy series of short stories. This book is firmly on my list of keepers, and you can find it at amazon.com for the reasonable price of .99.