"Anyway, the drop-bears are carking it left and right. Stupid things are starving out girlie." - Gavin Purdie
Ticonderoga Publications present a collection of fourteen tales from the disturbed mind of South Australian author Jason Fischer. Rule of thumb folks, never trust a South Australian, they are all sociopaths down in that State. While the collection is definitely in the horror realm don't expect the normal dark genre tropes or anything approaching a ghostly presence in an old mansion on some forgotten moor. Fischer writes stories set in the Australia of kangaroos, meat pies, and Holden cars, he epitomises the new horror movement in this Country that seeks to keep it all down home and dripping in blood.
If there is a single idea floating through the collection then that idea would be the post apocalyptic world. I should emphasis this doesn't mean set in the apocalypse, this means set sometime after civilisation has passed into that dark night kicking and screaming. For sure I'm always up for something post apocalyptic and Jason Fischer delivers a fantastically unique view of the death notes of humanity while not delving into nihilistic literature, there is hope as the modern world decays into a more primitive time. Let's rip into it and see what Jason Fischer and Editor Russell B. Farr have cooked up for our benefit.
As mentioned Jason Fischer isn't sending traditional horror stories our way, in fact he's taking the apocalypse and having a lot of fun with it. While zombie Kangaroos have appeared in various stories and novels, Aussies seem to have a certain taste for the flesh eating roo idea; zombie camels were certainly a new addition to the undead fauna! Yes there's rampaging camels in one story Fischer sends our way, which sounds like a silly idea but actually works in the context of the tongue in cheek Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh. But the Author isn't finished there, we also have carnivorous Drop bears preying on the survivors of some undefined end of times event in the titular story of the collection, and the ongoing adventures of a Minotaur who far from being the villain of the piece is actually the protagonist. Expect the unexpected when going into this collection, Jason Fischer has more surprises happening than a magician on steroids.
So I might be giving the impression that the tales in this collection are firmly bedded down in the lighter side of the horror tarot pack, but nothing could be further from the truth. Fischer pulls some disturbing imagery out that will have the unwary running home screaming, but it's all pretty low key. Don't expect masked supernatural psychopaths chopping up the unwary, be ready for some ideas however that will send that chill down your spine when you realise what you are reading. The School Bus goes Texas Chainsaw Massacre without apology, if for the moment we focus on the menu rather than the deranged psychopaths. Similarly Gunning For A Tinkerman casually introduces the idea of meat being back on the menu without overly focusing on it, you are in for a shock there folks. One of the Author's strengths is being able to insert the grotesque without it seemingly being there to shock, it fits into the narrative naturally and lays in wait like a well camouflaged spring loaded trap.
But Jason Fischer isn't leaving off there, why hold back when you can really hit a home run with a notion that will have the mainstream up in arms. Horror has a tendency to shy away from putting children in harm's way, mainly due to the fact that if you get it wrong then you are likely to be the target of various groups ranging from Femnazis to the Christian Fundamentalists. Naturally this isn't fazing this Author who cheerfully puts a toddler on the menu in the award winning flash piece Goggy. Word to your mother, ensure you have read the excellent Hunting Rufus to get full impact there, Goggy operates as a sort of demented postscript to that story. What really works with Goggy, and just in passing highlights how good a horror author Jason Fischer can be, is the implication being far stronger than the description. Fischer doesn't need to bash the reader over the head with the blood and guts, he allows their imagination to do the damage for him, that's both mighty fine writing and respecting the readership. I did mention the collection contains stories about mutant flesh eating Roos, that may or may not have resulted from military testing, right?
For those that don't know Jason Fischer is the author of the thoroughly original episodic Quiver, a compilation of stories featuring archer Tamsyn Webb that builds into a novel set in the post apocalyptic world after the zombie outbreak has gone down. Well Fischer is back doing the same thing in Everything Is A Graveyard, but clearly on a more limited scale. We get two episodic series of stories that certainly have me wondering if there might not be new books on the horizon. The Stephen King inspired Jesusman goes where King fears to tread and definitely needs a whole novel dedicated to the concept. And as mentioned above there's a sort of surreal series of stories involving a Minotaur, of all things, as a leading character. I'm calling these series of stories bonuses; if you disagree with me then you are simply wrong. For those after more Fischer Quiver is available from Blackhouse Comics for $22.95 including shipping.
Which brings me to another aspect of Jason Fischer's writing style that underlines how good the author is, while he maintains the facade of a naturalistic approach. The Author has zero problems with writing from a female perspective, something even Stephen King has been accused of not being able to do, though Dolores Claiborne and Rose Madder should put pay to that fallacy. Fischer's previous release Quiver was told from the focal point of his young female character, and in this collection the story Everything Is A Graveyard presents yet another strong female lead in the form of Gretel, who doesn't take a backward step from either Drop bears or the sort of bloke that would have given The Humungus, Lord of the Wastelands, pause. So if after an Author travelling the dark country for your daughter to read then you are in the right place, at least someone is presenting decent female characters rather than the normal cardboard cut outs that seem to be the female role in modern horror stories.
About finished here but a final word on Jason Fischer's writing style then we'll pull stumps. The Author writes in an easily accessed style that combines the rudiments of camp fire tales, with modern fable telling, all wrapped up in a naturalistic story narrative. The prose flows naturally and at no stage will you be taken out of a story by any sort of disruption in the prose, Jason Fischer has his beat on and doesn't drop the shuffle. The obvious comparison is to Stephen King, as hinted at above, though that would be a Stephen King writing in a particularly Downunder rhythm.
Jason Fischer's first collection Everything Is A Graveyard is arguable the best release of tales to chill by this year. A very solid collection of post apocalyptic stories that have a uniqueness about them that will provide you with hours of entertainment while making you wonder why on earth this Author hasn't released a collection previously. As expected Ticonderoga Publication have produced a polished release that simply states professionalism. Excellent release that is one of the most have books of 2013. Do not miss this collection, it's destined for cult status, highest recommendation folks.
Jason Fischer maintains a website right about here. You can pick up a copy of Everything Is A Graveyard from Amazon for just over $13, hardcover also available for $28. And in case you have missed a Ticonderoga release, hit their website right here.