By Steve Rasnic Tem
If you divide science fiction authors into optimists and pessimists, Steve Rasnic Tem falls in with the prophets of dystopia and decline. In his latest collection the veteran author gives us twenty-two stories owing a large debt to Kafka and J. G. Ballard, two famously sour visionaries. Tem’s imagery is thick with damage and entropy, his pages littered with aging and diseased bodies, wrecked cars, disintegrating cities, houses falling into ruin, and society generally breaking down into grotesque, anonymous parts.
Of course just because his outlook is bleak doesn’t mean Tem is dull and depressing. Shuttling among different genres, mixing voices and styles, writing on several different levels ranging from moral fable and allegory to domestic drama, the sheer breadth of invention on display makes this a memorable interpretation of the postmodern apocalypse.