The Inner City
By Karen Heuler
Karen Heuler’s short fiction doesn’t comfortably fit in any set genre categories like SF, fantasy, or magic realism, and so it seems appropriate that her theme in this collection is transformation. Species are crossbred, genetically spliced, and curiously evolve at high speed, giving us dog-people, fish that chase after birds on land, and people who turn into beetles and hyenas.
Perhaps the admittedly worn adjective “Kafkaesque” best sums these stories up: grotesque parables of modern life where good intentions frequently go awry, people break down into their component parts, and the air is thick with paranoia. A teenage Frankenstein’s vegetarianism creates a murderous sausage that stalks the suburbs, visitors to a strange planet forget the best traveler’s advice and drink the water, a latter-day Dr. Moreau breeds a new and dangerous kind of domestic servant, and beneath the city we all live in is a sinister inner city that controls our fate. For readers drawn toward the uncanny, you’ve arrived.