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Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed [Hardcover]

Scott Nicolay , David Verba
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Fedogan & Bremer (15 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1878252089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1878252081
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 3.3 x 15.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 96,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Hardcover
Scott Nicolay's Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed was published in April, but unfortunately I didn't have a chance to read it earlier. Well, better late than never, because this collection is an excellent and outstanding collection. I would've been very sorry to have missed it, because it contains fantastic and original horror stories.

Many critics have already praised Ana Kai Tangata and a lot has been written about it and its contents, so I'll write a short review about it. Before I write more about the contents of this collection, I'll mention briefly that I agree with the other critics and their opinions about the superior quality of this collection. This collection truly is something unique, because all the stories in it are excellent and worth reading (the publisher, Fedogan & Bremer, must be congratulated for publishing Ana Kai Tangata, because collections like this one are rare gems).

It's a bit difficult to believe that Ana Kai Tangata is Scott Nicolay's debut collection, because he writes good prose and knows how to shock his readers with weird and fascinating horror stories that have both depth and plenty of style in them (normally this kind of quality can only be expected from already established authors who have published many stories). There are no flaws or weaknesses in this collection, because everything's perfect.

It's easy for me to say that Ana Kai Tangata is one of the best weird fiction collections of the year and it's a serious contestant for the best debut weird fiction collection of the year. The only other debut weird fiction collection that has truly impressed me this year is Clint Smith's Ghouljaw and Other Stories, but it differs greatly from this collection.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest weird fiction collections. 25 April 2014
By Justin Steele - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Only too often do debut collections or novels read as such, and while more than a few display promise they still bear the hallmarks of being the author's first foray into the publishing realm. Rarely, a debut work transcends the trappings, and reads as if penned by a master well into his prime. These are the sorts of debuts that readers should take note of, as they herald the arrival of talents that are titanic in scale, talents that will leave their mark for many generations to come. This year marks the appearance of one such debut: Scott Nicolay's Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed.

Scott Nicolay came to my attention with his story "Eyes Exchange Bank" from The Grimscribe's Puppets, although he had a couple stories printed before that (one in the ill-fated magazine Phantasmagorium and one in the equally ill-fated Aklonomicon). In my review for The Grimscribe's Puppets I said the following about Scott's story: "Nicolay excels at creating the decrepit setting, which is an oppressive part of the narrative. The characters are realistic, and when the protagonist goes to visit his old friend in the run-down Pennsylvania town in order to find succor from his bad breakup, he finds a town that seems to be a black hole that sucks the life out of it's inhabitants."

"Eyes Exchange Bank" was one of the standout stories in the Ligotti tribute anthology. It managed to capture the theme and spirit of Ligotti's work while using a voice that was fresh and new.

In Ana Kai Tangata readers are served eight stories, every one of which is excellent. Nicolay is obviously very comfortable with the long form, with many of the stories measuring novella length. He takes advantage of the length, taking the time to build upon his characters in layers, resulting in protagonists who bleed off the page. Some are more likable than others, but all are real. The majority of stories focus on men who are struggling with personal issues, with loss and guilt taking the forefront. These broken men are often focusing their energies on certain obsessions. For some it's the loved one they lost, for others it's work related opportunities, and often it's a mixture of the two. These men often struggle with dark desires, and find themselves treading paths in which the light at the end of the tunnel is nonexistent. Almost every story is infused with a noirish inflection, a certain jaded and neurotic look at the world.

The fiction also benefits from authenticity. Caves feature in a few of the stories, and Nicolay's experience as a caver himself serves to anchor the fiction in a believable sense. Nicolay, born and raised in Jersey where some of the stories are set, has an eye for luminous, haunting locales, and many of the settings so perfectly described in the stories are weird, unsettling places that actually exist.

Of the eight stories present, four have been previously published, and four are original. "alligators" serves as an excellent opener, and shows that sometimes confronting one's fears does not have the therapeutic impact it's supposed to. Caves figure a large part in "Ana Kai Tangata" and "Phragmites" although the stories couldn't be more different from one another. "The Bad Outer Space" stands out for it's choice of narrator: a young child. It's not easy to write in the voice of a child, but Nicolay manages and makes the story all the more chilling because of the cold, matter-of-fact voice of the boy. The young Jaycee of "The Soft Frogs" is a perfect example of a Nicolay protagonist: jaded and getting himself in trouble all for the pleasures of the fairer sex. "Geschäfte" may be my favorite story in the book. The guilt ridden protagonist with the dark voyeuristic side paired with the one of the creepiest apartment settings make for a perfect weird tale. The collection ends with the extra long "Tuckahoe." Elements from Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" are present, and what starts out as a police procedural quickly descends into some freaky, backwoods territory.

It's very rare that a short fiction collection contains no weak stories, and it's practically unheard of that a debut collection manages to be all around excellent. Nicolay's debut is proof that it can happen. Eight of the best weird fiction stories that I have ever had the pleasure of reading, all paired perfectly with shudder-inducing art from David Verba, make this a landmark collection. Publisher Fedogan & Bremer have struck gold with Nicolay, and further refined the presentation with the amazing artwork from David Verba, and introduction from Laird Barron, and an afterword from John Pelan. As a bonus, the slipcased deluxe version (coming later this year) also features a new chapbook novella that doesn't come with the trade edition. Although it is only April, I have a feeling that this is not only going to be hailed as the debut of the year, but possibly even the best fiction collection of the year.

First appeared on my blog, The Arkham Digest.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Indispensable Addition to Weird Lit' 25 April 2014
By christopher slatsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you want to avoid any potential spoilers please skip the bulk of the review and just read the first two paragraphs (including this one), and the last three paragraphs. These should give an indication of just how enthusiastically I reviewed this phenomenal collection. Long story short, just pick up a copy immediately.

Full disclosure: Not only had I already read a couple of Mr. Nicolay’s tales before I opened Ana Kai Tanaga, I’m also passionate about paleo/cultural anthropology and archaeology. I knew from the get go that I was diving head first into the works of a major talent who not only dealt with subjects that interested me, but someone who’d ignored the arbitrary semipermeable barriers between horror, the weird, and literature. But little did I know just how magnificent this debut release would be. Ana Kai Tangata is rich with lush narratives that emphasize characters and atmosphere- no tableau vivant, the people here move about in real life which accentuates the strangeness of the, well, the strange, when it locks its gaze onto the reader’s awed stare.

In “alligators” a recurring nightmare heralds the approach of something profoundly ominous. Emergence tales permeate the entire volume, but in “alligators” specifically we’re offered glimpses of Navajo origin tales, Biblical fundamentalism, and urban legends concerning a local graffiti decorated Pit- anthropology of the indigenous, the fundamentalist, and the urbanite. Russell’s nightmare that opens the story bobs to the scummy surface throughout but is never quite fully explained, though enough information is given to form an ambiguous interpretation while retaining a tantalizingly evasive disclosure. A great opener.

I’ll admit up front that I find it difficult to suspend belief when it comes to first person stories whose voice is radically different from the author’s- not everyone can succeed as well as Faulkner. But “The Bad Outer Space” works spectacularly well despite my initial bias. Here the reader is like a passenger in a car crash who sees everything in slo-mo as the inevitable hurtles through the windshield. The methodical, patient accumulation of brief glimpses of mystery that flit by while the naïve child protagonist remains ignorant of the impending uncanny elements reminds me of T.E.D. Klein’s masterpiece “Petey”. Don’t get me wrong though, Nicolay is his own self here, and I make the comparison only as an example of how skillfully he manages to whip up anxiety through subtle clues. And with its wonderfully macabre conclusion “The Bad Outer Space” refuses to cease wriggling in my brain.

Anthropological, archaeological, biological- hell, even ontological- maybe I’m overreaching, but I’d argue that all of the stories here deal with interpreting existence and what it means for beings to be. “Ana Kai Tangata” and “Phragmites” both attest to Mr. Nicolay’s experience with caves and a real world knowledge of archaeology that allows the events to unfold into something that much more breathtaking given its authenticity. “Ana Kai Tangata” takes place on the well-known island pocked with mysterious caves where a less than reliable researcher is plunged into a hallucinatory terror of swirling patterns of insects, a joystick guided romp that’s both humorous and nightmarish, and a litany of disturbing encounters that bring to my mind the surreal violence in Thompson’s Savage Night (I know, I know, comparing authors again). This is a strong one with compelling characters and passages that evoke the hat trick of tension, disgust, and gape-jawed reverence.

And since I’m on the subject of anthropology (and defying chronological order), “Phragmites” resonates particularly deep with me. All the meticulous research and forensic osteology detail- from taphonomy to the sagittal suture talk to rez life culture(s), to the ritual(s) and complexities of kinship, well, it all conspires to make “Phragmites” a favorite amongst favorites. Fiction as a whole may be all about liminal passages, but Nicolay consistently exemplifies such transitions with a dizzyingly beautiful skill. I could ramble on but let’s just say that “Phragmites” won’t soon leave me.

While “Eyes Exchange Bank” first appeared in Grimscribe’s Puppets, Nicolay avoids the Thomas Ligotti pastiches I find some contemporary stabs at weird lit' tend to hang their hats on. While he does drive into similar neighborhoods where the ambiguous nature of reality intersects with the runoff to the cesspools of existence (just a block or two from Campbell’s stompin’ grounds), he confidently maintains his own voice. It just so happens it’s a unique voice tainted by gray fog and greasy shadows and encroaching hopelessness. And am I way off base in thinking there may be a tissue thin slice of Malpertuis growing underneath this story's skin? Perfect from beginning to end.

“The Soft Frogs” is an oozing, dripping tale about contamination, mutations, Lyellian transformation from ostracized teen to popular punk. Reptiles lurk within the murky depths of many of Nicolay’s stories and here batrachians join the tetrapod club- or a repulsive transitional example of said such. Here is yet another example of the author’s talent in portraying the fumbling, awkward, selfish passions of human relationships. Morphogenesis that just happens to include a repugnant psychoplasmic climax that would make Samantha Eggar shudder. I blared Black Flag’s “I Don’t Care” on repeat when I read this one. Believe me, it works.

“Geschafte” boasts one of the most compellingly creepy locations I’ve ever read. A down and out young man drifts through life crashing at various acquaintances’ pads only to end up at a severely baufällig building. “Geshafte” is infused with a heady melancholy as Cal’s guilt over his girlfriend's death distorts his perceptions, his memories, his existence (“….his personal little Bali Ha’i.”). Stunning.

“Tuckahoe” is the longest piece. Its ragged, cynical, pulpy, gallows humor opening would make an executioner wince. The boundary between horror and noir fiction is a malleable one and the author proves just how effective both can be when delivered so masterfully. His characters deliver dialogue that actually reflects they way people speak, not noir clichés or tired witticisms. The Fortean weirdness that throws a wrench in the form of a mysterious synthetic appendage into what was a simple traffic accident leads to a rural investigation that reveals just what that superfluous limb portends. What a fantastic conclusion to an exceptional book.

And what can I say about David Verba’s art that already hasn’t been said by those with far greater insight than I? He deserves a far lengthier review than I’m capable here so suffice it to say his art not only complements Nicolay’s stories the misty, amorphous, hauntingly gorgeous images also suggests how the illimitable and malefic might appear to human eyes if our brains were capable of interpretation. Pretentious? Maybe, but his grasp of the grotesque, his ability to capture fantastic, unnerving scenes that feel as if I’m staring into unlit chasms as I contemplate exploring hidden places is undeniable. This is all the more troubling given Nicolay’s predilection for caves...

Ana Kai Tangata is filled with stories where the venal bumps up against the unfathomable; greedy, gorgeous, miserable, clever, petty, magnificent people are allowed brief glimpses beyond the veneer. Here is horror that hasn't forgotten that, anthropocentrism aside, cosmic dread still requires humanity for it to have much impact. Misanthropy is all well and good and you can despair all you want about the universe’s heat death, the apathy of infinity, or callous entities propagating between the stars, but at its bare bones we still need to follow the rites of real people struggling with real problems before we can become invested in the tale. Scott Nicolay masters all this and more.

Scott Nicolay's work is a testament to the power of the enigmatic, the inexplicable, to rough-hewn poetry and heartache. He isn’t interested in spoon feeding the reader; he’s concerned with punching holes in your chest and poking needle-digits into the basal ganglia of your reeling head jelly and wriggling said fingers like a kid teasing tadpoles in a mud puddle. Face down in the musk of sex and sweat and blood. Herein reside 8 riveting tales that are sure to be held up as exemplary models of what weird fiction is capable of in truly gifted hands. This one is a game changer.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential collection for fans of weird horror fiction 14 Aug 2014
By "Seregil of Rhiminee" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Scott Nicolay's Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed was published in April, but unfortunately I didn't have a chance to read it earlier. Well, better late than never, because this collection is an excellent and outstanding collection. I would've been very sorry to have missed it, because it contains fantastic and original horror stories.

Many critics have already praised Ana Kai Tangata and a lot has been written about it and its contents, so I'll write a short review about it. Before I write more about the contents of this collection, I'll mention briefly that I agree with the other critics and their opinions about the superior quality of this collection. This collection truly is something unique, because all the stories in it are excellent and worth reading (the publisher, Fedogan & Bremer, must be congratulated for publishing Ana Kai Tangata, because collections like this one are rare gems).

It's a bit difficult to believe that Ana Kai Tangata is Scott Nicolay's debut collection, because he writes good prose and knows how to shock his readers with weird and fascinating horror stories that have both depth and plenty of style in them (normally this kind of quality can only be expected from already established authors who have published many stories). There are no flaws or weaknesses in this collection, because everything's perfect.

It's easy for me to say that Ana Kai Tangata is one of the best weird fiction collections of the year and it's a serious contestant for the best debut weird fiction collection of the year. The only other debut weird fiction collection that has truly impressed me this year is Clint Smith's Ghouljaw and Other Stories, but it differs greatly from this collection. Ana Kai Tangata is something different and experienced weird fiction readers will be able to notice how subtly and nuancedly the author has written his stories from start to finish and how easily he has added explicitness and raw emotions to them.

This collection is a totally satisfying and mesmerizing combination of unsettling weirdness, explicit scenes, three-dimensional characters, powerful imagery and beautifully written prose. I think it's good to mention that the stories in this collection contain sexually explicit material and brutality (the author uses explicit elements in a good and satisfying way).

Ana Kai Tangata contains the following eight stories:

- alligators
- The Bad Outer Space
- Ana Kai Tangata
- Eyes Exchange Bank
- Phragmites
- The Soft Frogs
- Geschäfte
- Tuckahoe

I've heard that the deluxe edition of this collection contains an extra story, but I haven't had a chance to read it, so I can't mention anything about it. If it's as good as the other stories, it'll be worth reading.

Most of these stories are of novella-length, so they're long stories. Scott Nicolay writes excellent novellas, because he carefully develops the protagonists and explores many things. I liked the way the author wrote about the characters and their lives, because they felt realistic and had their own feelings and traits. The author writes surprisingly complex stories and takes his time to build a strange atmosphere that almost leaps of the pages and grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go until you've finished reading the stories.

Although I loved the novellas, the shorter stories were also good. They were interesting and differed from the longer stories in terms of storytelling, because the author had less space to develop the story and had to create tension in a short time. In my opinion the short stories demonstrate how versatile an author Scott Nicolay is, because he's one of the few speculative authors who are as adept at writing short stories as they are at writing novellas.

This collection opens with "alligators" which is a strong short story about a man who sees a recurring nightmare, but the next story, "The Bad Outer Space" really sets the mood for what's to come, because it's an unforgettable and frightening story that has been told from a child's point of view. It's rare that Scott Nicolay has had courage to write this story in the first person from a child's point of view, because not many authors are capable of writing this kind of stories in a successful way.

"Ana Kai Tangata" is an especially interesting story, because the events take place on Easter Island. This novella is one of the best weird fiction stories I've ever read, because the author manages to create a strange atmosphere that both chills and thrills the reader.

"Eyes Exchange Bank" is an excellent Ligottian story. It was originally published in The Grimscribe's Puppets (edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.), which was an anthology that paid homage to Thomas Ligotti. This story will also be found in Year's Best Weird Fiction: Volume One (edited by Laird Barron). I'm sure that everybody who has read Thomas Ligotti's stories will be impressed by this story.

Here's a few words about the rest of the stories: "Phragmites", just like "Ana Kai Tangata", is a story in which a cave is mentioned. "The Soft Frogs" is a wonderfully unsettling and creepy weird fiction story that is partly a tale of a transformation from a nature nerd to a punk. The apartment featured in "Geschäfte" is creepy and unforgettable, and the protagonists memories about his girlfriend are nuanced and vivid. The horror and noir elements blend perfectly and effortlessly in "Tuckahoe", which can almost be called a short novel due to its length.

Such authors as Thomas Ligotti, Robert Aickmann, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen and T.E.D. Klein have been mentioned by readers and critics who have read this collection. I agree with them on what they wrote about the resemblances to these authors, because there's something in these stories that remind the reader of their complex stories. I want mention separately such authors as Clive Barker and Laird Barron when talking about the contents of this collection, because in my opinion Scott Nicolay has the same kind of tendency to avoid easy solutions and worn-out elements and storylines as Barker and Barron.

The protagonists in these stories are fully three-dimensional. The author takes his time to develop the characters and adds quite a lot of depth to them, which is very nice, because the more you know about the characters, the more powerful and personal is the effect on the reader when something unexpected happens to the characters or they experience something strange that shakes their lives.

The locales featured in these stories feel wonderfully realistic and also threatening. Scott Nicolay has chosen effectively haunting locales for his stories. He writes deftly about them. I respect him for using this kind of locales, because it demonstrates that he has creativity and vision.

There's quite a lot of originality in this collection, because the author has an original and modern way of approaching many themes and things. It was a real pleasure to read stories that were genuinely original and differed from other new horror stories. It was especially interesting for me to read about the caves, because caves are seldom featured in modern horror stories. There are - of course - a few other stories out there on the market in which feature caves, but only a couple of them have been as good and frightening as the stories in this collection.

According to the information found on the inside of the dust cover, Scott Nicolay has had an interesting life and has experienced quite a lot. For example, he has explored caves and knows about archaeology etc. I think that many of his experiences have been an important source of inspiration to him, because he writes fluently about cave exploration, the Navajo people and many other things.

I have to admit that I was positively surprised to find out that all the stories in this collection were excellent, because normally debut collections seem to have at least one or two mediocre stories in them. I liked "The Bad Outer Space", "Ana Kai Tangata", "The Soft Frogs", "Geschäfte" and "Tuckahoe" very much and consider them to be perfect examples of well written weird horror stories. I especially want to mention that "Geschäfte" is an exceptionally good and memorable piece of modern weird fiction, because it features a protagonist that suffers from guilt and the author has created a creepy yet melancholy atmosphere that can almost be touched by hands.

The artwork by David Verba looks beautifully weird and fits the collection perfectly. The artwork emphasizes the unsettling nature of the stories in an excellent way.

As you may have already guessed by my glowing praise of this collection, I love it very much. I sincerely hope that Scott Nicolay will write more short stories and novellas and continues to grace us with his dark imagination.

If you like enjoy reading stories by such modern horror masters as Laird Barron, Richard Gavin, Clive Barker, Clint Smith, Thomas Ligotti, Nathan Ballingrud and Simon Strantzas, you're in a for treat when you begin to read Ana Kai Tangata, because it's every bit as good as the stories written by these authors. Scott Nicolay uses the same elements as these authors, but writes wholly original fiction that resonates among readers who are fond of powerful images, well created protagonists and weird storylines.

If you love the weirder side of horror and aren't squeamish, you should read this collection as soon as possible. It's an excellent collection full of fascinating stories and well written prose. In my opinion Ana Kai Tangata is essential reading material for fans of weird fiction and weird horror stories. It's a superb collection for quality-oriented horror readers.

Highly recommended!
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A canonical work of weird literature 25 April 2014
By C.M. Muller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Cosmic, chthonic, horrific, ouroboric, erotic….These are just a few of the adjectives I would select to describe Scott Nicolay’s debut collection, "Ana Kai Tangata". For this is the tome of a powerhouse, of a writer who has read widely both in and out of his chosen field, culling language and modes of storytelling and molding them into smart and compelling narratives. Whether it be the pulpy noir madness of “Tuckahoe”; the poignant tale of cosmic horror, “The Bad Outer Space” (which is one of the finest examples of this class of fiction I have ever read); or the supreme Easter Island tale, “Ana Kai Tangata” (which brings to mind, and in fact rivals, Donald Wandrei’s classic The Web of Easter Island), the reader is dealt some seriously intoxicating narrative cocktails. These tales read as though the author has experienced every last aspect of them and has only now been given a lighted sanctuary in which to share his dark marvels. This perhaps sounds cliched, but in this instance I encourage the potential reader to prove me wrong. Two authors who readily came to mind during my reading were Terry Lamsley and David J. Schow. Readers familiar with either of these scriveners know how powerful each can be in their own realm of storytelling. So, am I suggesting a cross between “strange story” and “splatterpunk”? Well, in a sense. Let’s just put it this way: Nicolay likes to have fun with his lengthy narratives, and he’s not afraid to tackle subject matter which others might shy away from (intense erotica, if you must know; indeed, the author even warns his own mother from proceeding any further than the acknowledgements page). There is a delectable mix of classicism and over-the-top pulp horror to be found in the pages "Ana Kai Tangata", and I for one have been altered by the text. This is a tremendous and important debut, and one which firmly places Scott Nicolay into the upper echelon of writers currently operating in the field of weird fiction.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning collection 25 Aug 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
'Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and Doomed' by Scott Nicolay.
There are 8 stories included along with moody art by David Verba.

Warning: I don't get into detail in my reviews. It is too easy to give away important aspects of the story by talking too much.

I was mesmerized by this anthology and read it twice through back to back.

Scott writes a different kind of horror in my opinion. He forces you to think, to use your imagination, to fill in the frightening blanks. This makes for a more horrific experience and I absolutely love stories like this.

I must mention 2 of the stories as being especially well written and most horrific.

'Geschafte' is true urban horror at it's best and will make you look at your renovated apartment building in a new way.

'Tuckahoe'.....a blend of True Detective and Cthulhu Mythos as interpreted by Scott Nicolay. A masterful tale to finish the book with and one that will leave you in stunned silence.

I really can't recommend 'Ana Kai Tangata' enough. If you enjoy horror, well written and strnage horror, you will love this anthology.
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