Book review: Lost Signals

Lost SignalsLost Signals by Max Booth III
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As with most anthologies, the quality of the individual stories varies in Lost Signals and while a few didn’t do much for me, the collection overall is well worth reading if you enjoy horror.

A lot of enjoyment comes from how the authors make use of the broad theme of the book, with the inevitable stories about weird radio transmissions, and others that get even weirder, darker or both. There are references to the Cthulhu mythos, Twilight Zone-ish dead people calling on phones, jovial electronic devices that seem to enjoy killing, time displacement and enough electrical discharges to put your hair permanently on end.

“All That You Leave Behind” is a haunting tale by Paul Michael Anderson in which a couple experiences the sorrow of a miscarriage and the surreal joy of birth simultaneously. Keeping with babies, Damien Angelica Walters’ “Little Girl Blue, Come Cry Your Way Home” will make you look twice at baby monitors.

David James Keaton’s “Sharks with Thumbs” (apparently you needed at least three names to get into this anthology) nearly lost me up front as it’s written from the second person perspective, but the off-kilter story of a man and a fly that acts as a supernatural transmitter is so daft the unusual choice of perspective ends up working.

While I normally don’t give much thought to the actual order of stories in a collection, I had expected the long “All That You Leave Behind” to be the concluding tale, but it’s followed by a rather glib tale presented as an epistolary of a video game that inspires many of the children in a small town to kill themselves. The quiet, powerful conclusion of “All That You Leave Behind” would have been a nice conclusion for the book, but “somethinginthecode” feels like an attempt to abruptly lighten things up (weird, I know, given the plot of the story). It’s a minor thing, and others may react differently (or indifferently).

Overall, the range of styles and subject in service of weird horror and the specific theme are strong and varied enough to warrant a recommendation. Just be advised that the tinfoil hate probably won’t help.

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