Picking The Bones

“Dying is easy. Living is hard.”

Step back, back into the world of 1996…

“Dark fiction so numbing cold and cutting edge you better hold onto your ass with your free hand … There are no simple ‘entertainments’ or cheap grabs for the throat to be found here. Hodge is deadly serious about presenting a world where the worst punishment is the mere fact that you are aware you will probably live to see another day.”

So wrote critic Stanley Wiater about Brian Hodge’s renowned first short fiction collection, The Convulsion Factory. Three collections later, nothing has changed.

Well … maybe one or two trifling entertainments. A couple of cheap grabs for some body part or another. But that’s about it. There are still plenty of fates worse than death.

And the time has now come to advance to the fourth circle of Hell, whose 17 stations include: A hardened photojournalist’s glimpses the face behind the atrocities of war. A report on the arcane origins and tragic premier of the flipside version of Mel Gibson’s most infamous movie. The seeding of Lovecraftian terrors in the unlikely realms of vintage psychedelia and cinematic sound design. The chapter in the life of Dracula’s Van Helsing that reunited Hodge with editor Jeanne Cavelos, mastermind of the Dell/Abyss series. A trip inside one of the Middle Ages’ seven towers of darkest iniquity, now thriving in modern-day Los Angeles.

Dying is easy. Living is hard. And forces beyond your control have a bone to pick with you.

Stories

  • “With Acknowledgments To Sun Tzu”
  • “If I Should Wake Before I Die”
  • “The Passion of the Beast”
  • “De Fortuna”
  • “The Firebrand Symphony”
  • “Brushed In Blackest Silence”
  • “Pull”
  • “An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Flesh”
  • “And They Will Come In The Hour of Our Greatest Need”
  • “Re: Your Application of 5/5″
  • “Where the Black Stars Fall”
  • “When the Silence Gets Too Loud”
  • “Guardian”
  • “Hate the Sinner, Love the Sin”
  • “A Good Dead Man Is Hard To Find”
  • “Our Turn Too Will One Day Come”
  • “When the Bough Doesn’t Break”

Endnotes

For this collection, the Endnotes are available as an illustrated PDF booklet. Grab it here.

Reviews

“Hodge explores the nature of humankind’s deepest fears and worst failings in his eclectic fourth dark fiction collection (after 2002’s Lies & Ugliness). Eloquent, intensely intimate, and infused with existential angst, each of the 17 stories packs a powerful thematic punch … The diversity and quality of stories will more than satisfy longtime horror and dark fantasy fans, and will have new readers hastily seeking out Hodge’s earlier works.” — Publishers Weekly starred review

“In the vein of early Greek philosophers, Hodge exposes the flesh and sinews of our hidden recesses of mind and challenges our utmost internal drives … This is not a work of collective short stories providing the reader with mere escapism — it cuts deeper to the core of humanity.” — The Crow’s Caw