Week 234 – Weekly Horror Short Story Reviews: Navarro, Butler, Kornbluth, and Lebbon

Welcome to Week 234 of my horror short fiction review project! Some decent stories this week, but my two favorites were both science fiction stories, which I don’t read much of these days: “The Mindworm” by C. M. Kornbluth and the especially excellent “Bloodchild” by Octavia E. Butler. Butler is an author who’s new to me, though I know she has been beloved for a very long time–I just don’t read much science fiction any more.

Hellbound Hearts, edited by Paul Kane and Marie O’Regan (Pocket Books, 2009)

“Only the Blind Survive” by Yvonne Navarro

Wikvaya and his fiancée Cha’kwaina are Native Americans living in the Southwest; exact time frame or tribe are left unspecified. Wikvaya sees a mysterious sand painting that seems to herald the return of a demonic entity and the opening of a gateway, perhaps to Hell. He, his two brothers, and their father are spirit warriors who set out to fight the beast while everyone else in the tribe must be blindfolded, lest the beast kill them. Of course Cha’kwaina doesn’t believe in this bit of folklore and takes off her blindfold, which makes her a target for the creature. The beast is eventually put down at great cost. Okay story, but there wasn’t really a clear Hellraiser theme here.

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer (Tor, 2012)

“Bloodchild” by Octavia E. Butler

Gan is a teenage boy living with his family on a preserve for humans on an alien world. The planet is primarily inhabited by the Tlic, large, powerful, advanced wormlike (with many claws and a stinger) aliens who use human bodies to incubate their young. Nominally, this is done with the cooperation with humans, but because there is a one-sided and deeply hierarchical relationship between the Tlic and humans, things are complicated. Gan is onboard with it until he sees a sick human incubator have to have the young removed from his body via an improvised and crude surgery. It’s a fascinating relationship between both the aliens and humans as well as the member of the Tlic species that Gan and his family are bonded with. I’m surprised that Butler never did more with this setting. Really good.

Weird Vampire Tales, edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, and Martin H. Greenberg, (Gramercy Books, 1992)

“The Mindworm” by C. M. Kornbluth

An utterly amoral man is a powerful telepath who can also kill with a thought. He feeds on emotions, the more powerful the better. He travels around draining and killing victims until he arrives at a small West Virginia mining town populated mostly by Eastern European immigrants. As it turns out, these Slavs know how to deal with vampires. Really good one about a powerful evil psychic.

The Children of Cthulhu, edited by John Pelan and Benjamin Adams (Del Rey/Ballantine, 2002)

“The Stuff of the Stars, Leaking” by Tim Lebbon

Brynn is mourning his wife’s death after she drove her car into the sea; her body was never recovered. He has traveled to a beach where some titanic and betentacled beast of unknown origins has washed up on shore, though no one but Brynn seems interested in examining the beat’s corpse. The decaying creature seems to commune with Brynn, bringing knowledge of Brynn’s wife’s last moments. Interesting and evocative, but it’s a very passive story in which nothing much happens.

Buy the book on Amazon

Buy the book on Amazon

Buy the book on Amazon

Buy the book on Amazon

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