Paul M. Sammon (ed.), Splatterpunks II: Over the Edge (Tor, 1995)
The first Splatterpunks anthology was, for me, one of those life-changing books that points a person in an entirely new direction; given that, I have no idea why it took me twelve years to pick up the second in the series. But I did, finally, and once again Paul Sammon has collected a bunch of truly nasty pieces of work. Not quite as nasty now, in the age of Charlee Jacob and her ilk, as they likely were in 1995, but they still pack quite a punch.
As with most anthologies, there's some variance in quality, but not as much as one might expect from a book this thick. The best of the bunch, by my count, is Wayne Allen Sallee's novella "For You, the Living," an account of a Chicago whose population has, in the majority, been turned into sex-crazed zombies. (Shades of David Cronenberg are always a welcome addition to the bookshelves of Goat Central) Other highlights can be found from the names you recognize already: Clive Barker's "Scape-goats" is wonderfully, unmistakably Barker; Kathe Koja's "Impermanent Mercies" is typical of the brilliant stuff she turns out; Steve Rasnic Tem's "Boxer" is, in Sammon's words, "just so weird". It should also be noted that this volume contains the first published work of Christa Faust (Hoodtown), and a fine little piece it is. The book is also shot through with nonfiction pieces, which I found kind of surprising; Jim and Debbie Goad's interview with the late Anton LaVey is the best of the bunch, just as interesting as any of the fiction to be found here. Good stuff, all this, with a slip now and again, but that shouldn't stop you from checking this one out. *** ½