Outsiders: 22 All-New Stories From the Edge By Nancy Holder

    Read Outsiders: 22 All-New Stories From the Edge


    In this knockout anthology, today's most important writers of speculative fiction cruise the abnormal elements of society and find a new wave of underground disorder, poignant horror, dirty kisses, and necessary anarchy.

    Including never-before published stories by:

    Neil Gaiman, Steve Rasnic Tem, Kathe Koja, David J. Schow, Bentley Little, Poppy Z. Brite, Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, Melanie Tem, Tanith Lee, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Lea Silhol, Freda Warrington, Elizabeth Massie, Brett Alexander Savory, Katherine Ramsland, Yvonne Navarro, Thomas S. Roche, Michael Marano, John Shirley, Brian Hodge, and Elizabeth Engstrom

    ...all at their most brilliant and most outrageous.

    Here are dangerous games between lovers, howls from the dark, voyeurs and their victims, disturbed wishes and bitter dreams. Unflinching, uncommon, and underground, these tales vibrate with new life. Outsiders: 22 All-New Stories From the Edge

    What the hell was I just reading ?.... When I got this book it seemed it would be dark , creepy , maybe a little scifi maybe a little dark fantasy ... I mean the catch phrase on top of the title states ... 22 all new stories from the edge ... and the picture has a woman with scales seem to be appearing and her eye looking lizard like....okay Im down .

    WTH did I read , nothing was creepy nothing was scary nothing was good , each story left me asking why? It felt just like a bunch of excerpts of wierd bland stories ... each story didnt feel like a whole story , it felt like they closed their eyes , opened the book at a random book and said okay these two pages put in this anthology ....next book


    I would read each page half hoping beyond hope ... that the next one would be good ... NOPE... I even kept going after reading one where a girl and an animal got down and dirty and the climax of said animal and girl was described WTH!!!

    Nope this was atrocious really ... no words just no no nooooooo 352 I was in a very dark mood, so I picked a very dark book. On reflection, most of the stories weren't very good. Well, a few of them were okay. Tanith Lee's story was artfully decadent, and Expanding Your Capabilities Using Frame/Shift Mode' by David J. Schow was unsettling. The rest swing from subtly creepy to all-out gory and violent but like a lot of theme collections they have a hard time getting past simple wish-fulfillment. However, the book was exactly what I needed at the time, so I enjoyed it. 352 This is a sort of hit-or-miss anthology of twenty-one stories by various dark fiction notables and a nice poem by Neil Gaiman. There's a nice character study (that's not a story) of restaurant workers by Poppy Z. Brite that doesn't much fit with the Gothic Others theme of the majority of the other pieces, a very dark and twisted short nasty by Bentley Little, and a story by Michael Marano from which I didn't get a thing. On the plus side is an excellent story by Tanith Lee, a very good Caitlin Kiernan, and an amusing little piece by Jack Ketchum that I loved for being so true and politically incorrect. Most of the other stories fall pretty close to the middle of the line between okay and pretty good, to my mind. My favorite story was a trippy, happy little science fiction fable about suicide and singularities featuring a perky Goth by John Shirley. It's not a book for the squeamish, as there are several somewhat graphic scenes of violence and rape and drug use and sex that many may find offensive. 352 I came here for Tanith Lee, this review is for her story only. I do plan on reading Neil Gaiman, Kathe Koja, and Caitlin Kiernan's short stories, eventually. Tanith Lee has a 30 page chapter in this book. It would have been put in the 4th Blood Opera Sequence book had she lived long enough. It's titled SCARABESQUE: THE GIRL WHO BROKE DRACULA (A chapter from the as-yet-uncompleted fourth novel of The Scarabae Blood Opera). This is a difficult book to find, I read it on archive.org.

    As usual, the writing was descriptive, mysterious, and otherworldly:

    But the girl carried midnight with her. It made up her long hair, her long dress, the long boots she wore. It filled and surrounded her eyes, and sprinkled from her ears in tiny shiny drops. At one shoulder only was a silken scarlet slash, left by some descending sun much older than the orb recently fallen behind the high street. That ancient sunset had also splashed her lips and nails. And a bone white moonlight her skin.

    She moved in her own darkness, personal to her as all fantasy, yet externalized into armour and a mask.

    Ruby Sin moved into the space, and the sound and the light undid the lid of her brain, so her spirit could fly right up, and look about, clear-sighted as a hawk, from the tower-top of her body...She was all part of it now, the night. Safely locked in, yet her soul flying free, connected to her only by a hair-fine silver chain.

    Her soul perched there on the rail, and that was when Ruby Sin, at the bar, felt something--someone-- touch her...
    The most intimate of touches.
    Not to breast or groin, but stroking over the fiber of her psychic life.

    There are plenty of 'wtf did I just read' moments too.
    Ruby Sin had to kill Sue Wyatt every Friday evening. First in a bath with salts of cedar, frankincense and myrrh. Then with black clothing and red and black costume jewels, and a long black wig. Next smothering her in a black and white and red makeup and nail polish. All through the murder, poor Sue Wyatt stared in horror and fear--but at the end her eyes were shut behind jet-black contacts. Dead, dead, left behind on the floor like a shed toenail clipping.

    There are so many quotes from Tanith Lee I like. I feel like I'm reading poetry when I read something by her...her ability to use words to express events and feelings is unparalleled.

    This was, nearly, a Cinderella dream, of going out into the night disguised as Ruby Sin...Sue Wyatt then saw behind her closed eyes and all over the inside of her body a dark male Being who walked between the crowds as a full fed black leopard sometimes walks between the restless passivity of feeding deer.

    Sue read the book first. She found it dense and almost difficult, to begin with. Then the vampiric sequences of Stoker's rogue masterpiece of transmogrified sex, began to quicken her. Why had she wanted to read it in the first place?

    Real life, always less lovely, less wanted, more terrible than fantasy, had hunted for and found her, Unforgivably here.

    I believe there were references to Camillo:
    'My father, Andruin said, once he had passed her the wine and she had drunk some, rides with a gang of bikers. He looks younger than he did. Or perhaps he's older again, or he's doing something else. He has always refused to credit that I exist, as if that could unmake me. My mother was Spanish-Hungarian. Where she is I've no idea either. But I'm hardly alone. There is the Family. My Family, he added, is very old.

    Coppola's Dracula is my favorite Dracula movie, and when Tanith was describing how much Ruby Sin loved the Dracula movie, I kept on thinking, 'Oh, I imagine it's Coppola's remake.' I was thrilled when she revealed it was in fact Coppola's Dracula that Ruby Sin watched.

    Discovering Tanith Lee and the Blood Opera Sequence series has been something special, it's a distinct and unique series. I highly recommend this to fans. It's short, but still lovely. 352 The Empty Chambers by Neil Gaiman: The first piece in this collection is a poem, and it is a must. One of the five reasons I bought this book. A ghost story. 4/5

    The Company You Keep by Steve Resnic Tem: This is a kind of a predictable episode of someone's insanity and gradual suicide. You can almost hear the violins as he remarks on his lack of a social life. 2/5

    Under the Needle by Lea Silhol: This kind of story has been done before, but the writing is what gives it its staying power. Partner breaks up with you? Hit the demonic intervention hotline! 3/5

    Expanding Your Capabilities Using Frame/Shift(TM) Mode by David J. Schow: An original plot, with a twist. What if with the touch of a button and the adjustment of a few settings, a person could see an actor on TV naked? What if you push the button again, and the actor's skin disappears? How far would you go? 3/5

    Cat and the Cold Prince by Freda Warrington: This plot has been done before, but again, the writing stands out with a nice wrap-up ending. Lovers of science fiction and furries will enjoy this little story, although I'm really not into that community. 3/5

    Faces in Revolving Souls by Caitlin R. Kiernan: The dark side of the science fiction and furries theory we just delved into last time. Great plot twist at the end that makes the reader think twice about the main character. 3/5

    Lighten Up by Jack Ketchum: The second reason I bought this collection. Ketchum's writing is always as tight as clockwork, although this is far from my favorite. The point of this story is nicotine addiction: it will make you happy if you do smoke, and completely unnerved if you don't. 3/5

    Pit Boy by Elizabeth Massie: Oh, my God. This is by far the stupidest, cruelest story in this collection. If it had some sense of style I might have understood the violence, but it only succeeds in finishing up completely disgusting. The birth flashback was the worst: I WAS BORRRRRRRRN ON THE BACKSIIIIIIDE OF A SHITHEAP IN TEXAAAAAAAS! 1/5

    The Country of the Blind by Melanie Tem: Absolutely disgusting in some scenes, I don't understand why everyone has to have their eyes gouged out. If there were a few pages of strong reasoning and argument, then I would get the message. The scene with the dog really pisses me off. 1/5

    Ruby Tuesday by Kathe Koja: Finally a story I can relate to, but why is this here? This is a YA story about a girl dealing with her mother dying of cancer. Unable to cope with reality, she creates a fantasy world of her own movie. 4/5

    Running Beneath the Skin by Brett Alexander Savory: A well-thought out tragedy of science fiction. Two men with superhero-like powers believe they will live forever, despite social ostracizing. But is there a true death...? 4/5

    Grim Peeper by Katherine Ramsland: Third reason I bought this collection. A story of whatever turns you on better be legal. The first gets off on voyeurism of corpses, the other gets off on watching the corpse-oglers unobserved, her sexual undercurrent to infiltrate and blow the lid off their little party. 4/5

    Craving by Yvonne Navarro: Here we go again with turning people on. This time a couple gets off on witnessing horrific accidents and tragedies, but when there's not enough naturally happening of course, they start creating them. 4/5

    Violent Angel by Thomas S. Roche: An assassination attempt goes wrong. Although this has been done before, this keeps the reader interested and has a nice plot twist. Disgusting at times. 3/5

    ...And the Damage Done by Michael Marano: Fourth reason I bought this collection. A tragedy shaped by the habits we have and the choices we make, in the wake of the death of an artist. Very poetic and well-written, though vague in some parts and not my favorite. 3/5

    Pop Star in the Ugly Bar by Bentley Little: Death by snu-snu, and just basically disgusting. 1/5

    Miss Singularity by John Shirley: Oh, my God. It was so hard to get through the first half of this story. I cannot STAND depressed teenage bullshit. That aside, the ending scene was interesting. Thank God an LSD trip come to life basically saved the day. 1/5

    The Working Slob's Prayer by Poppy Z. Brite: Fifth and final reason I decided to buy this collection. Why is this story here? Basically this is about people in the LGBT community, working to fulfill their dream of running a restaurant. All that really does happen is a false alarm of a food critics alert. 4/5 Very well written.

    If I Should Wake Before I Die by Brian Hodge: Theories on whether or not fetuses have dream-memory or experience REM sleep are examined in this story. In a world where nearly all women are miscarrying, one woman writes a letter to her soon-to-be-born. 4/5

    Honing Sebastian by Elizabeth Engstrom: Mind-control and being a cog in the machine of a huge complex system are examined. What if the God you worship behind the curtain is nothing but a sham who's using you? Do you resist or comply? 4/5

    The Shadows, Kith and Kin by Joe R. Landsale: The Charles Whitman murders are reexamined and adapted, with a supernatural twist. I didn't see anything really special about this that made it stand out. 2/5 352

    Will add reviews of each story as I move through it, picking it up from time to time, not necessarily in order.

    POP STAR IN THE UGLY BAR, by Bentley Little: Short and ferociously nasty, this story has no plot, instead heads straight to depravity. One of the sicker things I've read in a while. Can't recommend for the squeamish or offendable. I'm staying away from The Ugly Bar! 352 I can say that I enjoyed maybe two stories in this entire book. The rest ranged from weird to just disgusting. Pop Star in the Ugly Bar by Bentley Little was just gross, a rape fantasy with no hint of a plot and I'm really surprised they added it. The story about the cigarette activists was just dumb. And yes there have been studies about the dangers of second-hand smoke. 352 Didn't read the whole book. Bought this for the Tanith Lee story, the Caitlin R. Kiernan and the Neil Gaimen. 352
    Inside the “Outsiders” — An Anthology with stories by Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Joe Landsale, & Poppy Brite

    Below, I mention how I liked each story and include a favorite quote:

    The Empty Chambers by Neil Gaiman

    A poem. Very creepy but I’d rather have read a Gaiman story.

    The Company You Keep by Steve Resnic Tem

    Walking among us are the members of a secret company. I don’t know what I took away from this story if anything.

    Scarabesque: The Girl Who Broke Dracula by Tanith Lee

    This was actually an excerpt from one of Tanith Lee’s novels. It was also the first time I read anything by her. I liked the imagery that her words created. For instance:

    Under the Needle by Lea Silhol

    You’d appreciate this story more if you focused on how it was written rather than the plot. I did and I ended up liking it!

    Expanding Your Capabilities Using Frame/Shift(TM) Mode by David J. Schow

    A literally visceral story about a man who discovers his remote can do much more than change channels!

    Cat and the Cold Prince by Freda Warrington

    A story that brings to mind dictatorships and restrictive regimes, such as the Prohibition in the Cromwell era. Oh, and a girl falls in love with a tiger!

    Faces in Revolving Souls by Caitlin R. Kiernan

    This one was about a splinter group of people who left their human status behind by choice fighting for their rights.

    Lighten Up by Jack Ketchum

    Smoking is banned. Smokers decided to retaliate.

    Pit Boy by Elizabeth Massie

    The beginning of the story is set up to deceive the reader. The end is one of the saddest endings I have ever read!

    The Country of the Blind by Melanie Tem

    A blind girl will accept you into her family but she needs a sacrifice first.

    Ruby Tuesday by Kathe Koja

    A hidden cult in the midst of the society and a boy with a dying mother looking for a place to fit in.

    Running Beneath the Skin by Brett Alexander Savory

    Can you even said to be alive, if your insides have been replaced with metal? No, this isn’t about Wolverine!

    Grim Peeper by Katherine Ramsland

    There’s necrophilia and there are grim peepers. Read this story, if you love being grossed out.

    Craving by Yvonne Navarro

    This story is based on a certain type of “outsiders” who like to watch accidents.

    Violent Angel by Thomas S. Roche

    A planned hit where the hitman isn’t on the complete plan.

    …And the Damage Done by Michael Marano

    Beautiful imagery is one of the characteristics of this story. The other is heartbreak!

    Pop Star in the Ugly Bar by Bentley Little

    Simply gross but a fitting addition to this collection. A wannabe pop star ends up in a gore-hardcore bar. She doesn’t make it out.

    Miss Singularity by John Shirley

    A teenager’s depression comes out to play!

    The Working Slob’s Prayer by Poppy Z. Brite

    The going ons in a restaurant with some very interesting characters thrown in!

    If I Should Wake Before I Die by Brian Hodge

    Expectant mothers miscarry all around the world. No one knows why until we reach the end of the story…*shudder*

    Honing Sebastian by Elizabeth Engstrom

    A sad story about the dreams of those below being crushed by the powers that be. This line from the story says it all:

    Another favorite quote:

    The Shadows, Kith and Kin by Joe R. Landsale

    A broken man tired of being put down by the whole world makes friends…with shadows…who talk to him…

    My Favourites

    Lighten Up by Jack Ketchum
    Pit Boy by Elizabeth Massie
    Miss Singularity by John Shirley
    The Working Slob’s Prayer by Poppy Z. Brite

    Have you read this anthology? Which ones are your favorites?


    Also reviewed at:

    Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on September 13, 2017.
    352 I bought this book thinking I'd read some fun, gothic YA fiction (found it in the Teen spot in Hastings), and walked away feeling ill. This is NOT a teen/YA book. This is the creepy-beyond-creepy adult horror.

    I will say this though: the writers included definitely know their craft, and for that, it was an educational read.

    But don't look here unless you want to be sleeping with all the lights on for a week! 352