By Arlene F. Marks
It’s always a treat to open a debut collection of short stories from an author who has been publishing them for years. That’s the case again here with Imaginary Friends, where the contents are a mix of old and new, and range from fantasy to horror to science fiction, and from quick sketches to a novella about pioneers on another planet.
Underlying all of it is Marks’s fascination with storytelling itself. Without becoming overly meta she presents characters who feel aware in different ways of the genre they find themselves performing in, conscious of being a part of stories that they both shape and are shaped by. Examples include a vampire, a neighbourhood witch, a superhero, and even the devil himself, all transposed to new surroundings (Old Scratch is at a computer store looking to update his office networking system). The results take us on unexpected diversions into new fictional territory, but with some familiar characters as our guides.