The Hotwells Horror and Other Stories by Pete Sutton (ed)
Ebook, 180 pages, Far Horizons
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David J Rodger, Bristol gadabout, photographer, writer, gamer, coffee lover, fond of all things squishy and tentacular and undead, much missed…
This is a tribute anthology put together by David’s friends in his memory, and including several posthumous stories from the man himself, with all profits going to MIND (and for that reason alone you should buy three copies). And, in a reflection of David’s delight in the above squishy tentacular squamousness (because Lovecraftian speak makes my spellchecker explode), there’s definitely more than a hint of the eldritch and disturbed in this collection.
It opens with David’s own “The Hotwells Horror”, a story of the Elder Gods breaking through in a neglected Bristol landmark, and the futile struggle to contain them. (The Clifton Rocks Railway also features in Nick Walters story “Trespassers” in Future Bristol, edited by the equally-missed Colin Harvey.) And it closes thousands of miles away, in California, with another of David’s stories, the twisty, time-looping “Fast Love Die”.
Highlights – although every story is a highlight because they have been brought together out of deep and lasting affection for David – but I always like to pick a few personal favourites when reviewing short story collections and anthologies. Ken Shinn’s “Hillraiser” provides some comic relief and some truly dreadful puns, and if you like truly dreadful puns you will love it.
Dave Bradley’s “Salvation” takes us off-earth to an asteroid mining colony on the brink of disaster, and explores what happens when the people coming to save you have a very different concept of what salvation means. It’s a poignant story that leaves you thoughtful.
Several stories here are set in David’s own post-apocalyptic Yellow Dawn World, including “Dead Reckoning” by John Houlihan, and “The Lost Brother” by Simon Brake, a bitter story of innocence buried, things that stalk dark forests, and a killer twist at the end, while Cheryl Morgan goes full Lovecraft in one of her rare-but-excellent short stories with “A Piece of the Puzzle”, set in prohibition New York.
If you like dark, Lovecraftian stories, or cyberpunk, or isolated spacefarers, or you just want to do a good thing and donate some money to charity in exchange for a cracking set of stories that will chill you and thrill you and in one case make you groan out loud (Ken!) then you should get hold of a copy of The Hotwells Horror. And if you like this sort of thing then David’s work is still available at his website :
We can only wonder at the stories David would have gone on to create if he’d stayed with us. As a friend said at his funeral, while David’s own story had a really crap ending and we all would have liked it to go on for many more pages, there’s still a wealth of his fiction waiting for new readers to discover, and in that way, he’s still with us…
And this isn’t the greatest photo of DJR but the t-shirt is appropriate :