Midnight in the Sunken Cathedral by Harlan Ellison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Harlan Ellison's stories are always a treat for me. Mostly acerbic, always well-crafted, vibrant, exciting... and above all, full of depth. I've never read a collection I didn't at least feel like raving about. Not all stories are perfect or super-engaging, mind you, but like any music album, I tend to give high marks when four out of the bunch absolutely thrill me. :)
Here are the ones that made a big impression:
Midnight in the Sunken Cathedral. Let's turn regrets into an Atlantean multiple-dimensions What-If story that is both fascinating, uplifting, and a memento-mori all at once. :)
The Function of Dream Sleep. Easily my absolute favorite of the lot. I found myself impressed by the starting point and then fully engaged and then downright frightened. Yes. This story actually scared the bejesus out of me. THAT GENERALLY NEVER HAPPENS to me. I might have nightmares.
Jeffty is Five. At once totally scary with the seemingly innocuous implications, it moves the fear aside and heads right toward wonder, deep nostalgia, and right back to horror. Five-year-olds are SCARY when they're five for seventeen years. :)
Soft Monkey. I now have a new appreciation for the streets of NYC. I've never been so impressed or thrilled to have an action movie surrounding a homeless black woman. :) The image of the Draino will stick with me, I think.
These stories, and I assume, all of Harlan's stories, are the type that should never be missed by anyone who likes wildly entertaining and often sharp-enough-to-bleed stories. Mostly SF and F, but did I mention these are SHARP? :)
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