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Review by
Kristy Dark
EXTREMES 2: Fantasy & Horror from the Ends of the Earth
edited by Brian A. Hopkins
Lone Wolf Publications
Signed, numbered limited edition CD-ROM

Artwork by Marge Simon

One of the delightful things about this book is that you get to enjoy horror and armchair (or computer-side) travel simultaneously. Just pop this puppy…er, I mean wolflet in the CD-ROM drive and let the journey begin.

Appropriately, the first thing you'll see is a world map, with the location of each story marked. Choose your adventures in any order; you control your own itinerary. Select Michael T. Huyck Jr.'s "El Cura" and you'll find yourself on a tropical island with a lustful naked priest, surrounded by pissed-off natives and water roiling with something terrifying. Pick d.g.k. goldberg's "Lamed Vov" and you'll follow mystical signs through centuries-old Jerusalem, then dance at a wedding for a dead bride.

In "The Colonel's Jeep" by Daniel Pearlman you'll ride with Nazis through the Russian countryside, survive machine gun fire and bursting bombs, see demons raised - and their extortionate prices paid. Or step into the ring for a Thai snake handler's lethal encounter in Jim Algie's "The Death Kiss of a King Cobra Show."

Gunsmoke, bloodthirsty livestock, Yeeeehah! ride 'em cowboy…have a weird, weird west experience in the Australian outback in Scott Nicholson's "The Meek." Or make love, slither through the jungle, fall under a priestess' spell…in Julie Anne Parks' seductive tale "Symbissa."

OK, a few travel tips… For "Frostbite" by Shawn James, dress warmly and carry extra flares. After the Cessna crashes, you'll be spending the night on the Arctic tundra, alone except for…hey, what's that scraping sound? And when you get to Romania, hate to tell you but you're not going to find five-star accommodations. In Paul Finch's "Dark and Shady Places" all you're going to get is a foldaway bed in the shadow-filled, drafty Knights' Hall at Corvin Castle. Hard to get much shut-eye in a place surrounded by Ceausescu's bloody history…especially when a few blood-seekers penetrate the castle walls.

So what have we got here? 20 eerie, haunting stories in exotic locales with nary a traditional monster in sight…well all right, there is one vampire and one extremely unusual ghost (shall we say hamstrung by circumstances?). But beyond that, you're going to find things with sharp icicle teeth, a jaguar-headed Eater of Souls, goat-like hounds with wings, and a variety of other monstrosities. Scary? Yes…but sometimes the people in these stories are scarier than the monsters. The entertainment value's high, but these brilliantly crafted tales will also make you think - and feel.

In addition to those I've singled out, you'll find terrifying look-ma-no-tour-guide stories by Karen Jordan Allen, Michael Caron, Don D'Ammassa, Joseph C. Daniel, Steve Eller, Liz Holliday, Charlee Jacob, Michael Kelly, Patricia Matthews, Simon Morden, A.E. Roberts, Steve and Melanie Tem.

As you hack your way through jungles, explore legendary castles, get lost in crooked byways, and gallop across the windswept plains, you'll also discover tantalizing multimedia gems: splendid full-color artwork by Marge Simon, film and audio clips, music, photos, links to author websites. At the end of your journey, hang out with Brian A. Hopkins for a special treat - video and photos offering rare insights into the editorial process.

The CD-ROM can be used on Mac or PC. Stories are beautifully formatted in Adobe Acrobat so they can be read on screen comfortably, or you can use the printer-friendly formats to print them out. (If you don't already have the Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer, there's a copy on the CD-ROM that you can load easily.)

No, you can't use your frequent flyer miles to go on this trip - but after you read EXTREMES 2, you're gonna be flyin' high!

5 BookWyrms

This review copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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