Mike’s Prattle

Miscellaneous

Tim Lebbon – Fears Unnamed

Posted by Mike on October 20, 2006

Fears Unnamed is a collection of four novellas by horror writer Tim Lebbon. It includes a new story, “Remnants,” a reprint from “White and Other Tales of Ruin” (“White” itself), a novella from “As the Sun Goes Down” called “The Unfortunate,” and a reprint of the PS Publishing novella “Naming of Parts.”

Was really taken with this collection, enough to start As the Sun Goes Down immediately after finishing the last novella. Lebbon has a very economical, character-based style that gets you right into the mind of his beleaguered protagonists. The first novella is probably the weakest, a novella that seems inspired by the Weird Tales writers like Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and others, as a man is called by his archaeologist friend to join him at the site to reveal a secret. After weathering a storm in a tent that destroys most of the site, the two find an entry into the underground. What’s down there is well-described, if somewhat familiar if you know the genre.

“White” won the British Fantasy Award and is being developed for a movie.  A group of people are surrounded by snow in an apocalyptic situation and soon become under siege by malevolent entities that start to pick the party off one by one. The situation degenerates at a nice pace and the denouement is particularly impressive, if a little on the Blair Witch side in its ambiguity.

My favorite novella in the book was “The Unforunate.” The protagonist is saved from a trans-Atlantic plane wreck by four mysterious entities that call themselves Amaranth, described as fairies, demons, angels or gods. These beings show him some strange visions before allowing him to resume his life with his wife and child, only for the man to find that his luck is inversely related to that of the people he loves. As the novella progresses, the Amaranth are always just out of sight and the protagonist is usually aware of their presence. It all climaxes in some very grisly violence as he attempts to take his life (not really a spoiler, this is revealed in the first couple pages).

The last novella also won an award (the BFA as well iirc) and is something of a classic apocalyptic zombie story, except seen through the eyes of a 12 year boy. Some bomb has gone off turning all life into flesh-eating monsters and killing off all the plant life as well. It’s very depressing, as the boy and his parents try to make for the closest town, where the boy’s sister has run away to. The fears of the boy are well-defined and written, and there’s a couple nice twists to keep one guessing. Apparently PS Publishing has released a sequel to this, which ought to be interesting.

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