Borderlands 6: The Anthology of Imaginative Fiction, edited by Thomas and Olivia Monteleone
Samhain Press, 2016
Available: Paperback, Kindle edition
In 1989, Thomas Monteleone, already a stellar author in several genres, decided to publish an anthology series that bucked the trends. He compiled a collection of unique stories that stretched the parameters of horror and weird fiction. There are no tired tropes or recycled plots here. Monteleone was interested in publishing great stories, not just big names, and many of the best tales came from the minds of previously unknown writers, many of whom became rising stars. After a 12 year hiatus, Borderlands 6 follows suit, and succeeds just as well as the previous five volumes. Some stories will leave readers with a sense of wonder, and others with the best sort of unsettling feeling.
There are some big names: Jack Ketchum, David Morrell, Steve Rasnic Tem, Gary Braunbeck, and new sensation Paul Tremblay all make an appearance, as does John McIlveen, whose novel Hannawhere was a Stoker nominee this year. Braunbeck’s satiric take on “mart-type-box stores” is chilling in its pure weirdness. However, the success of the Borderlands anthologies comes from sharing hidden gems, and this volume is no different. Many of the best stories are by relative newcomers. “Cocoa”, by Bob Pastorella, is the oddest tale here, and lingers in the memory; “The Dress”, by Peter Salomon, is similar in its strangeness, and has a twist that is both organic and perfect; “The Palace Garbage Man”, by Bradley Mitchell Zerbe, feels both medieval and modern in its unique take on evil; and “In God’s Image”, by Sean B. Davis, a story that feels like a warped episode of The Twilight Zone hung around in this reviewer’s darkened imagination for days.
Olivia and Tom have done a fine job here in continuing the Borderlands legacy. Highly recommended for all fans of short fiction looking for something new and different.
Reader’s advisory note: This anthology may be a good way to introduce new authors to horror readers looking for a change.
Reviewed by David Simms