Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies, John Langan (Word Horde 978-1-939-90560-4 $19.99, 388pp, tp) August 2020.
Stephen Graham Jones, in his introduction to Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies, briefly sums John Langan’s work up, as well as anyone can, as “both delivering us some compelling horror but at the same time interrogating the basic form of horror.” In his appealing story notes, Langan acknowledges the writers who inspired/influenced each story. The title story, a novella, is a prime example of Lovecraftian (albeit fairly obscure – the reptilian race of the Nameless City) inspiration and an old trope (discovery of family secrets locked away in the basement) reinvented as modern horror. “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly” is a found-manuscript story (with some wry pokes at horror writers and editors) of revenge. “With Max Berry in the Nearer Precincts”, written for an afterlife-themed anthology, offers a detailed and disturbing look at life after death. Stephen King is the muse for stories like “Inundation” (a breach between worlds floods everyday life), “Zombies in Marysville” (the title is explanation enough), and (along with David Lynch) “The Communion of Saints”, which features a detective investigating a series of kidnappings. Langan acknowledges the work of Peter Straub as a spur for one of the shorter but most engrossing pieces: “What You Do Not Bring Forth”. He ventures into science fiction (and the influence of William Gibson) with Noomi Baul, a hacker/programmer with unusual tattoos in “Irezumi”. Baul is called in to deal with a virus threatening a virtual afterlife network. The book’s sole previously unpublished story, the interesting and disconcerting “Vista” (inspired by Michael Cisco’s Unlanguage) is in Q-and-A format. The 21 tales of this collection are proof that, whatever the stimuli, Langan’s work is always original and unsettling.
Paula Guran has edited more than 40 science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies and more than 50 novels and collections featuring the same. She’s reviewed and written articles for dozens of publications. She lives in Akron, Ohio, near enough to her grandchildren to frequently be indulgent.
This review and more like it in the November 2020 issue of Locus.
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