Seances with the Living . . .

                                            Seances with the Living . . .  

                                           Book Review by A. R. Braun

Seances with the Living . . .  is a short story book by award-winning horror author Johnny S. Geddes. I’m impressed with his intelligence, as a lot of his stories go over my head. The bad news? He only hits it about 1/3rd of the time. I prefer to be entertained, not outsmarted. There are some winners here, so it’s worth checking out, if you can get past all the grammar and spelling mistakes. There’s also a lot of author voice intrusion. I don’t want a writer to say, “Now this is the part that will really get you.” Just get me and blow me away.

The opening descriptions are written beautifully, the author saying, “Just stories?” and then going on to setting up the landscape of not only the shorts contained within but also descriptions of his other books, which looked like very tempting purchases indeed. The introduction, “Infamous First Words,” by the author himself, compares reading the book to picking the author up as a hitchhiker, dangerous but not too threatening, knowing how to drive you to strange worlds that will keep you up later than you know you should stay up, seeing as you have to report to work in the morning–something all good writers do.

The stories I feel deserve honorable mention:

“And You Get Three Wishes,” is about a young man dealing with the kidnapping of his parents by a shopping catalogue distributor who offers a horror of horrors; “A Friendly Bet,” about Delta and Omega inside a computer ruining people’s lives; and “Old Flame,” about a Catholic father having to exorcise a demon in the future to disastrous results. The first story mentioned won him his first award and, as you read it, you’ll understand why. “Old Flame” leans on sci-fi/horror, a true classic.

“Forever Bound,” is about a sailor stranded at sea who has to sell his soul to an Egyptian goddess if he ever wants to see dry land again and the tragedy that befalls him as he takes part in the curse; “The Gate Glass,” brilliantly provides the atmosphere of a life of hopeless poverty (which is scary enough in itself) and the “hope” that comes from a magic mirror he finds; “And Janus Jumped,” features a guilt-ridden programmer forced by the government to insert a computer chip into babies to insure they don’t live a life of crime–but which causes nasty side effects. Of all the pieces, “The Gate Glass” scared me the most. The man has lost his woman and is living in a poverty-ridden shack with Clockwork Orange-like characters chasing him. “And Janus Jumped” again leans on sci-fi, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

“Torquemada Town,” includes a village that had taken part in the inquisition that faces its comeuppance; “One Enchanted School Day,” shows a girl who’s Daddy has been taken from her after having a nervous breakdown. She plans revenge on the whole world by releasing bombs by hacking into a school computer; “The Overnaught,” casts a rich, selfish game designer enjoying a virtual vacation on Mars, only to happen upon an Egyptian god and the curse that follows; and “The Cherry Room,” is about the murder of a person of a different race by a very guilty white man, and the victim’s revenge . . .  

Of all the stories, I think “The Overnaught” is my favorite, for the moral and the resolution, the payback coming to a money-hoarding jerk. I don’t mind the protagonist being the antagonist, as long as he gets what’s coming to him in the end!

I can see why Mr. Geddes won so many awards, but he’s hit-and-miss. I could’ve done without the fifty page unoriginal vampire story, “Chronophobes.” Still, there are tales here worth reading, stories you’ll want to add to your library of horror.

A. R.  Braun

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