I really loved this collection of short stories: they're original, varied and well-written. All manage to hook you in a matter of seconds, for there's always a sense of mystery, a sense of unease that you feel the need to go on reading. Science-fiction, horror, suspense: you'll find it all here, as in the best tradition of what Ray Bradbury could do in his own short stories. A few words about each of them, without spoiling the plot of any:
"The Gatekeeper": a very mystical story about finding one's way, even involuntarily. It is linked with Fate, being the chosen one, and containing, in every sense of the word, all worlds inside yourself, yet being trapped, secluded in one cramped space in the process. In that light, it can be read as a metaphor of what it's like to be a writer, and seems a very logical choice as the first story of the collection.
"Sullivan Street" is about childhood's end and the corruption of the adults' world, filled with lies and deceit. Very suspenseful and intriguing, with one foot in reality and the other in something different, as in Duperre's novel Silas.
"The container of sorrows" (Mercedes M. Yardley): a short metaphorical tale on ungratefulness.
"Sins of our fathers" contains themes such as becoming oneself, finding a second chance or a meaning in life, metaphorically kill the father to gain self-respect...
"Blight" (Daniel Pyle): Hallucinations / visions tricking people into doing terrible things because of a curse dating from the 18th century. Linked with Historical guilt.
"Feeding the passion" offers a twisted, perverted vision of the special relationship between fan and artist, each one "feeding" on the other...
"Dispatch #337" would deserve its place in The Rift series, though the narration is different. Frightening like Dracula because it's "live" (not through letters here: a woman recorded a vocal message, that's what the reader has in his hands).
"Exhibit A" (David McAfee) is another recorded message, but here the narrator is the killer, and he is staging his own show. Metafictional mise en abyme. Great style, scary.
"The Emancipation of Po Po": High Noon meets Ghostbusters. Far-fetched yet funny and possible to understand, even if everything feels outlandish.
"I Spy": funny, humbling short tale that reminded me of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End.
"Kitty in the cellar" (David Dalglish) is about revenge and the power of imagination, of storytelling: children telling each other and themselves stories.
"Perfect blue buildings" deals with sacrifice and choice between the people you love.
"Empty spaces": as in "Kitty in the corner", the power of imagination can trigger a chain of reactions...
When I reached "Dispatch #337", I felt like there was one word which could define or unite all these short stories: TRANSMISSION. "Dispatch #337" is a story (transmission n°1) in which a woman recorded a radio message (transmission n°2) during a chaos caused by a virus turning everyone into zombies (transmission n°3) and she wished to leave a reminder of herself and the world after her death (transmission n°4). All the other stories are transmissions containing transmissions, and now it's up to you to receive them. As far as I'm concerned, I'm off to reading The Gate Vol. 2!