Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: Eternal Frankenstein Edited by Ross E.Lockhart

Eternal Frankenstein Edited by Ross E.Lockhart

Hardcover, 320 pages

Expected publication: October 9th 2016 by Word Horde


Amber-Rose Reed – Torso Heart Head

Siobhan Carroll – Thermidor

Autumn Christian – Sewn Into Her Fingers

Rios de la Luz – Orchids by the Sea

Edward Morris – Frankenstein Triptych

Michael Griffin – The Human Alchemy

Betty Rocksteady – Postpartum

Scott R Jones – Living

Tiffany Scandal – They Call Me Monster

Damien Angelica Walters – Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Orrin Grey – Baron von Werewolf Presents: Frankenstein Against the Phantom Planet

Nathan Carson – Wither on the Vine; or Strickfaden’s Monster

Anya Martin – The Un-Bride, or No Gods and Marxists

G. D. Falksen – The New Soviet Man

Kristi DeMeester – The Beautiful Thing We Will Become

David Templeton – Mary Shelley’s Body

If you are a long time genre reader you know there are hundreds upon hundreds of anthologies that come out every year. Some good, some bad and a few that are just amazing. There are few names that you can see on the edited by line that promise really good work. Some that come to mind for me include Ellen Datlow, Paula Guran, John Skipp and Douglas Winter. In the past names like Martin Greenberg, Charles Grant and Harlan Ellison were the best in the business. I think it is safe to assume we have a new contender putting his hat in the ring.

Ross Lockhart had done enough to garner that consideration with a trilogy of Lovecraftian collections that include Book of Cthulu book one and two. His Tales of Jack the Ripper and Giallo Fantastique are rich examples of his skill. These collections don't just happen for no reason Lockhart released the Ripper anthology on the 125th Quasquicentennial of the murders. So we have this collection in 2016 the 200th anniversary of the year without summer, the year she first conceived of the story which made her famous. Although she didn't write Frankenstein until two years later.

Frankenstein's monster and the novel itself has had 200 years to build up a mythology that has expanded beyond just sequels but original films like the Bride or novels like The Brian Aldiss classic Frankenstein Unbound. The idea of a Lockhart edited collection of Frankenstein stories is just almost too good to be true. I know that Lockhart has a keen eye for fresh takes on classic stories. Shelley's Modern Promethus was a story that had many angles and paths the authors could take.

There are many authors in the table of contents I am already a fan of such as Edward Morris, Orrin Grey and Tiffany Scandal. There were several I have met but never read like Mike Griffin, Anya Martin and Autumn Christian. Several I had never heard of before. This collection does something I am not sure I have seen before - perfect gender balance.

No anthology is going to be perfect, when I read one there will often be stories I don't enjoy as much as others, for me a collection is good when I enjoy more stories than not. 50% is a good average for many but Lockhart anthologies rarely have flat-out stinkers. They are often collected in order to build off each others themes. My two favorite stories include science fiction takes from Autumn Christian's Sewn Into Her Fingers and Edward Morris's Frankenstein Triptych. Two other stand outs were Tiffany Scandal and Damian Angelica Walters tales which explored childhood and the horrors of school. Nathan Carson and Anya Martin explored connections to the Hollywood film. Those six were my favorites of the collection.

The only weakness I could find was that the first two stories while setting a traditional gothic tone were the flattest of the book for me. The second part of Frankenstein Triptych by Edward Morris is one of the stronger short pieces he has written in a long career of anthology appearances and as a friend I was really proud of him. Autumn Christian displayed a skill that had me itching to read more. Since those came early found myself thinking they were a better hook for readers.

There are essential anthologies like Dark Forces, Dangerous Visions and Prime evil that must be read. I think Lockhart is making a case for his ability to deliver that kind of quality. I don't think this is essential unless you really love all things Frankenstein, that being said this is state of the art horror fiction. If you respect great writing and want to see what some powerful young writers are doing with a classic tale then you will be pleased. I for one loved it. Word Horde doesn't again!

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