Unwelcome Space & Other Stories: A.S. MacKenzie
Reviewed By Steve Stred
First and foremost – right out of the gate – MacKenzie is a member of the Kendall Reviews team here. I initially wasn’t going to review this to prevent any consideration of conflict of interest, but decided to snag it as I truly believe Dean, Adrian and Demain deserve to have all of their work reviewed and celebrated, regardless of who the author is and their community ties.
Demain Publishing continues time and time again to release high quality, short blasts of horror from a wide range of authors. It really is a commendable undertaking.
A.S. MacKenzie’s was of interest to me because of the science-fiction aspect. I love sci-fi horror and was keen to see what he’s conjured.
What I liked: ‘Unwelcome Space and Other Stories’ is a very short trio of stories. The highlight for me was the second story, ‘Unwelcome Space.’ This was a novel-length story stuffed into a floating space station and two dozen pages. MacKenzie filled this piece of fiction to the brim with dread and I found I was completely unnerved the entire time. Loved this. The characters were familiar but not in a bad way and the decisions that were made fit well within the expectations of their roles.
The third story was ‘Run Till You Can’t.’ This was a fantastic burst of anxiety following a woman fleeing an unseen attacker in a swampy bog. I loved when we’d get a hint of the attacker drawing closer and the ending was spot on.
What I didn’t like: Of the three, I found the first story to be the weakest offering. ‘A Lot of Things Wrong’ had a great idea and I did enjoy the plot that unfolded, but I wasn’t a fan of the way it was told. The first person point of view and the necessity for me to fill in most of the ‘other’ half of the narrative didn’t flow.
Why you should buy this: Overall, this was a great mini-collection and as I mentioned, the last two stories were superb. The first story didn’t work for me, but it may very well be your favorite of the three. MacKenzie writes with an easy writing voice which made each story easily accessible and I think this would be a fine place for people to dive in and experience his work for the first time.
Darkness Calls & Other Stories
The crew of the small space research station in orbit were expecting a routine day and maybe a little Halloween fun until one of their astronauts started having trouble outside the station during some routine maintenance.
Their communications with each other, and to command on Earth, broke down through interference. Then, the astronaut’s voice came back through the comms, but it wasn’t their voice. Then something beat against the hatch.
Crew started to panic.
Commander Davis tries to hold their small, international team together while something outside wants in. Something that doesn’t want them out there. Something that will send them back. When in space, the stars are invisible due to the sun shining directly on you. Nothing but featureless black in all directions.
Black, but not empty.
(this collection also includes the stories A Lot Of Things Wrong and Run Till You Can’t; cover by Adrian Baldwin)
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
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