Weird Tales Review

BLACK POCKETS AND OTHER DARK THOUGHTS by George Zebrowski (Golden Gryphon Press, $24.95)

Turning to more contemporary writers, let us examine George Zebrowski's Black Pockets and Other Dark Thoughts. Like Eric Frank Russell, Zebrowski is not usually thought of as a writer of horror stories, but his first collection in the genre should serve to shatter that preconception. Zebrowski di­vides his tales into three categories: the Personal, the Political, and the Metaphysical, working outward from the specific to the general, although one wonders how he came to classify each story into their final cate­gories. For instance, "Earth Around His Bones" strikes me as being an expression both of a per­sonal phobia as well as an existential angst about the final state of the human condition. One won­ders if "Jumper" is not perhaps a metaphor on man's lack of insight for where his abilities may ultimately lead. The Political Terrors are more pensive studies in magical realism, in which an Undead Fidel Castro continues to linger on long after his relevance has died. The Metaphysical Terrors provide the juiciest tales, as is good and proper after all. Jesus returns as both a victim­ized derelict and as a supernatural prankster who reveals that we are just part of a science experiment. "Black Pockets" is a study of two souls locked hopelessly in hate so intense that even their own destruction is acceptable as long as their enemy also perishes. "The Lords of Imagination" strikes me as more manifesto than story, with its melancholy recognition that fanta­sy and horror were truer representations of "our black, anarchic souls, for all that we had leashed, chained, and imprisoned within ourselves" than the bland, sterile optimism of Roddenberry SF. While I would not go as far as Howard Waldrop does in his introduction and equate Zebrowski's achievement with that of Fritz Leiber in "Smoke Ghost," this is nonetheless an impressive collection that will repay repeated readings.

— Scott Connors, "The Den," Weird Tales, October 2006


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