Saturday, May 03, 2014

Review: "Strange World: A Biff Bam Pop Short Story Anthology"

After a short introduction by Jonathan Mayberry to Strange World: A Biff Bam Pop Short Story Anthology the book opens with “Sister Mine” by Annie Michaud. It is hard being the baby brother who is scared by his older sister's screams from nightmares and other odd events. But, when Jenny disappeared without a trace things got worse.

Taking a called strike three that results in the final out is brutal. Shane knows that all too well in “Dirt Man” by Jason Shayer. The ninth grader knows his local history and has a plan to seek revenge against his bullies. The small town of Atwood has had strange events before in its 75 year history and if Shane gets his way it will happen again.

Ms. Chagrin is perfectly willing for you to “Blame Me” in this stream of consciousness type tale by Rathan Krueger. You might think of her as a serial killer. She sees herself as a liberator of sorts helping those who need freedom from their oppressors.

“Medium Double Double” by Andrew Burns features a regular guy who has been driving eighteen wheelers for about twenty years now. About ten years back another driver told him he time he had to go check out a place called “The Coffee house.”  The coffee there was supposed to be something special and well worth going off at Exit 43-A and down the road 20 minutes. The long haul driver known as “Hammer Monkey” sent him and that serves as the best introduction he ever could have gotten.

40 year old Doctor Jane Shockrowski or “Doc Shock” to her peers lives the good life in Virginia. Being the only one with a PHD at the “Automobile Safety Institute of America” she takes her job and responsibility and very seriously Prudent and sensible she has everything firmly in control. Then there was the day when everything changed in “Crash” by Jim Morris.

“Kitty” by David Sandford Ward comes next in a disturbing tale of what it is like to be experimented on from the animal's point. Needless to say the animals are not happy and looking for their chance to settle the score a little bit.

50 year old Naomi just had some seriously lousy sex in “Live To Write, Write To Live” by Glen Walker. If she liked sex without pleasure she would have stayed with her husband of twenty-eight years. The writer's workshop that evening had been the only thing worth doing and quite an inspiration for all the participants. That might have led to her current situation where she is tapping out words on her cell phone in some guy’s bathroom in the middle of the night while the lousy lay sleeps. Everything is grist for the mill and this will be too once she figures out what that weird banging sound is that just started outside the locked bathroom door.

It has been 12 years of living in the house without a problem. Then, after a great date with Jessika as he is trying to sleep he hears a noise. Not a soft sound either. It is a “ka-thunk” type of deal in “Down In the Cellar Basement” by Kayla Tyson. After twelve years of being in the house, he has never once gone into the basement. Thanks to the noise tonight is the night to go down there assuming he can get the old door leading down into the basement open.

“The Face in the Well” by Andre Narbonne comes next where a girl apparently was right about the monster. The narrator was a young boy then living in a small village where his dad owned a small store. The girl came in the place looking to buy a drink and instead took him away from his toy cars to see a troll in nearby well. Or maybe it was a genie. Either way, the narrator has an 8mm camera and plans for a movie and whatever is in the well will be in it.

Susan has signed her contract and has been assigned locker 307 storage facility. “The Storage Locker” by JG Chayko is a tale of memories, secrets, and fate.

Eric had said the hiking trip in Schwartzwald would be great. He was wrong and not just because he backed out at the last minute. Now our unnamed narrator is “Lost In The Dark Woods” by Ken Haigh. Fortunately, he has somehow found an isolated castle like structure where he can take shelter from the weather and the night.

Lucas Mangum comes next with his tale titled “Occupy Babylon.” Michaela is one of many protesting what is happening while her boyfriend, Eddie thinks such actions are a waste of time. The world is at the brink of collapse according to some and Michaela knows that something is happening to her. She just has to have faith. The real question is what kind of faith and faith in what?

The last thing the young kid wants is the syringe in “I Hate Needles” by Ian Rogers. But, Dr. Peters has a job to do and is not going anywhere. His eight year old patient isn't coming out from under the table either so a negotiation is in order. This should be interesting.

A brief afterword and short author bios bring this read to a close.

Compiled by Andrew Burns, JP Fallavollita, David Sandford Ward and Corina Newby is an interesting anthology that uses the concept of “horror” with a very wide brush. Much of the works in this collection are more about strange events that may or may not have rational explanations when viewed by others. Things that may have appeared one way to those directly involved and far different to others. While zombies and dracula do make an appearance here, most of the stories are more about what is in your mind.

Strange World: A Biff Bam Pop Short Story Anthology is a good read featuring a well done mix of story types, writing styles, and plenty of interest characters.  Many of them take the everyday and twist it into something far more complicated as the story pushes the definition of reality. The collection comes across to this reviewer more as a dark fantasy type anthology than actual horror. No matter how you define the genre, the read is a good one.

Strange World: A Biff Bam Pop Short Story Anthology
Compiled by Andrew Burns, JP Fallavollita, David Sandford Ward and Corina Newby
Biff Bam Pop Press
November 2012
ISBN # 1230000031504
Kobo Exclusive

A PDF of the book was provided quite some time ago by Glen Walker in exchange for my objective review.

For more on the book at the time of release go to:

Kevin R. Tipple ©2014

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