Big Dark Hole: And Other Stories

Small Beer. Jul. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9781618731845. pap. $17. SF
One can encounter a myriad of strange and otherworldly things in a big dark hole; sometimes, we discover these holes in the most unexpected places. This new short story collection explores the extraordinary that lurks just behind everyday life. Some of its subjects are truly otherworldly, like tiny fairies who risk their lives in a daring rescue (“The Bookcase Expedition”), an angel whom one must wrestle to secure a professorship (“The Match”), or spirits trapped in a never-ending circle of violence who suck others in with them (“The Jeweled Wren”). Others are about weird events or beings that mark our lives, like a monkey in the woods (“Monkey in the Woods”), or a drainage system that a young boy is compelled to explore (“Big Dark Hole”).
VERDICT In this collection, Ford (“The Well-Built City” trilogy) serves up a variety of staples from the sci-fi/horror buffet: monsters, ghosts, fairies, and even a creepy carnival. Exacting language and well-drawn characters give these stories enough depth to satisfy both sci-fi/fantasy fans and literary fiction readers. Seamlessly blending the surreal with the mundane, Ford gives readers an innocuous ride to places they never knew they wanted to go. Recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman and Ursula Le Guin.
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