Pandemonium: Lost Souls Edited by Jared Shurin and Anne C. Perry. Book review

PANDEMONIUM: LOST SOULS

Edited by Jared Shurin and Anne C. Perry,

Jurassic London, h/b £14.99, ebook £2.99

http://www.pandemonium-fiction.com

Reviewed by Glen Mehn

Jared Shurin and Anne C. Perry have made something of a name for themselves with their first two short story collections: Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse and Pandemonium: Stories of the SMOKE. Both collections brought together an international collection of new and established writers and artists to build strong collections that garnered excellent reviews. The editors are well known in the British SFF community as the managers of Pornokitsch and the Kitschies awards.

Pandemonium: Lost Souls is their latest collection in their mission to promote genre literature – and it’s something very special – a collection of 21 stories of loss and redemption. Rather than commissioning stories from contemporary writers, the editors have dug deep to find overlooked and  under-appreciated stories, mostly from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Pandemonium have, as they always do, chosen a charity to support with this collection: a share of the proceeds will go to Samaritans.

The collection is split into a range of sections – themed “Lost”, “Power”, “Stories”, “War”, and “Found” – these demonstrate the art of curation of a story collection which Perry and Shurin have mastered. You’ll recognise some names, and not others – Stephen Crane starts the collection, and O. Henry winds it up, while the most famous story here is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Ghost of Goresthorpe Grange”, which you may recall if you studied Victorian literature – but the others can either serve as a solid diversion or an introduction to some lost but deserving authors.

Each story is introduced with a bit of biographical information about the author and the time in which it is written – explaining to some extent how the stories were chosen, and providing essential context. While a few stories that don’t work on their own – like Calista Halsey Patchin’s “The Professor”, which relies a rather abrupt twist ending – each of these stories provides something else: the collection as a whole reveals a chart, a portrait of the development of horror, fantasy, and the weird that we all know and love.

The collection includes two edits – David Bryher retells a Basque fairytale, and Osgood Vance re-edits to make legible the non-fictional accounts of John Reynolds’ redeemed fellow prisoners. Some of the standout stories for me include Bret Harte’s “Poker Flat”, May Wentworth’s “Emperor Norton”, and Robert W. Chambers’ “Marooned”.

South African artist Vincent Sammy provides lush, gorgeous, enchanting illustrations.