Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Splatterpunks edited by Paul M. Sammon

I think we get hung up on labels, and the term “splatterpunk” is really an unnecessary tag. I agree, however, that it helps in marketing certain styles of writing. I am in agreement with writer Mel Odom who states there are seven genres of fiction – mystery, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, romance, western and horror. Everything else is a sub-genre of those primary labels. Depending on the story elements, “splatterpunk” could be a sub-genre of several other genres. Just as “steampunk” and “cyberpunk” are sub-genres of science-fiction, and “weird western” is a fusion of westerns and often fantasy and horror. All of these fusions and morphing genres can be a bit overwhelming. Splatterpunks edited by Paul M. Sammon, was published in 1990 and collects and documents the trendy splatterpunk literary movement that was all the rage. The problem I had with this trend is that it resulted in a lot of stories where the focus was on bloody scenes, and whatever story might have been told was lost in gratuitous pools of blood. Fortunately, this anthology avoids most (but not all) of that nonsense. The first tale is Joe R. Lansdale’s “Night They Missed the Horror Show” which is a masterpiece. This is the scariest story published, because it can be real. There are no supernatural elements, no Lovecraftian monsters. This is an unflinching slice (no pun intended) of Americana, and when you read it you’ll never be the same again. Everything else in this anthology is secondary to Lansdale’s frightening tale. Other tasty tales are Clive Barker’s “The Midnight Meat Train” and “Rapid Transit” by Wayne Allen Sallee. Editor Paul M. Sammon includes his own essay tracing the origins of the splatterpunk movement, and there’s an essay by Chas. Balun about splatterpunk films. Both essays struck me as pedantic. For you George R.R. Martin fans his story, “Meathouse Man,” is included, too. In general, this is an entertaining anthology, and most of the stories will keep you awake at night. That’s what they’re for, so lock the doors and start reading.

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