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Story Time Mickey Huyck Review by
Michael T. Huyck Jr.
by Norman Partridge
Subterranean Press


Cover Art by Alan M. Clark

I've said it before, but I'll repeat myself. Just in case you weren't listening the first time. I'm fond of the novella. The length is just perfect for the short time I'm able to dedicate to reading each night, and it balances perfectly the development of plot and character in the weaving of story. Given my druthers, I'd dedicate myself to reading chapbooks.

There's a reason not to, though. Many publishers treat their chappies like the proverbial red-headed stepchild. The art may or may not be adequate (they run the gamut there) but the printing is often second rate. And the fit and finish - man, don't even get me started. Even houses that truly give a shit about paper choice, binding, and trimming on all of their other products suddenly think it's irrelevant with the chappie. Bastards.

Not so with Subterranean Press. Partridge's THE HOUSE INSIDE is a first-rate example of how to do a chappie right. When you close it, all the page edges line up. No shit! But let's not gloss over the author and the work here. That's what I'm writing about. I just couldn't miss an opportunity to wax on about a publisher that seems to give the chappie its due.

The sun is bright in THE HOUSE INSIDE. Bright enough, it seems, to be killing nearly everything living. At the beginning, the monstrous corpse of Robert, a child, lies in the decimated lawn of some suburban home. He's dead, so don't worry about Robert. No need sweating any of his family, either. What does beg your attention, though, is Robert's toys. They're alive, they're moving, and they're suffering. This bright sun, obviously fatal to humans, is also tough on toy soldiers and plastic cowboy and Indians sets. The critters, scorpions and spiders alike, while tougher than the humans, don't care for the sun either. More importantly, the critters and the toys don't care for each other.

This story focuses on conflict and survival, not the mechanics of the backdrop apocalypse. It's about toys and their journey towards the perceived safety of the toy box. It's about cold-hearted creatures and melting wagon trains and little plastic flame-throwers that really work. In a nutshell, it's what you would have seen if Rod Serling, not John Lasseter, had written TOY STORY.

In this pretty package you get 11,000 words of weirdness and hope by Partridge and three stunning bits of artwork by Alan M. Clark all wrapped up in either the limited (250 copies) or lettered (26 copies) version. The former version is $12 and the latter $40 - well worth the bucks, if you ask me.

I give THE HOUSE INSIDE four bookwyrms.


This review copyright 2003 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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