Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"Hallucigenia," by Laird Barron

I just finished this story in the June issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It's absolutely terrific. I've enjoyed most of Barron's stories (you can read Bulldozer, and Parallax online, and you should) but the concluding pages of this story knocked me out.

When I started the story, I didn't have such high hopes for it. The story is told from the perspective of a tough guy rich boy who has travelled the world, mastered hunting and faced down many a problem. He is surrounded by other tough guys. This is so much like Barron's other stories -- all of them feature some kind of hard boiled protagonist -- that I figured I was in for a repeat. And to some extent, I was. The story includes many of the same horrific and pulp ideas as his others, and even includes some references to his last F&SF story, "The Imago Sequence."

But this one tops the others.

I'm not sure I can explain why, either. There's a wealth of detail about the horrific background of the story, but you never quite see the whole picture. There's terrific scenes of horror -- including the one illustrated on the magazine's front cover. And in the climax, Barron brings it all together in one spectacular fright scene. Then, he goes one step better with a coda that adds just a touch of humor.

I'm just rambling on here, but I really enjoyed this story and wanted to share that with others. If you aren't already subscribed to F&SF, go out and pick up this issue. This one novella is easily worth the $3.99 cover price.

You can read a review of the issue at Tangent Online. And you can discuss the story at the magazine's message board.


Paul Jessup said...

Your just trying to get a free copy of the magazine, heh.

Not that I blame you. If I didn't already have a subscription, I'd be doing the same thing.

Brian said...

No I'm not, I have a subscription. Though, I'm always open to presents.

But seriously, this story was great. I really loved it. Check it out!

Paul Jessup said...

I will. You didn't know there's a thing gonig on at F-S/F magazine? If you post about it in your blog, you get a free issue. A nice idea. I might rip it off for GrendelSong.

awolverton said...

It is a great story. I'm embarrassed to admit this is my first contact with Baird, but I'll certainly seek out the rest of his work. Based just on "Hallucigenia," I'd buy a collection of his stories. Hopefully one is in the works.