Tachyon Publications has been making a name for itself over the past few years with the publication of award-nominated -- and award-winning -- novellas. Most recently, Nancy Kress's After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall (which I blogged about here) -- winner of the 2013 Nebula Award and a finalist for the Hugo Award; and Brandon Sanderson's The Emperor's Soul (which I blogged about here) -- winner of the 2013 Hugo Award. And forthcoming in June, The Madonna and the Starship by James Morrow, the master of the sardonic (here).
And, I suspect, my latest project for Tachyon Pubs -- novella We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory -- will be no exception, and we'll be seeing this sharp-edged story on many awards lists beginning in early 2015.
Gregory's troubling tale centers around a therapy group, all of whom have experienced EXTREME -- in bold and in caps extreme! -- trauma. Five "patients": three men and two women, plus their therapist, Dr. Jan Sayer (who is far more than she seems).
There's Harrison, the former Boy Hero of Dunnsmouth, the Monster Detective, who has survived the Scrimshander, and the Abysmal, and many another freak show, most of whom are barely even hinted at. Wheelchair-bound Stan -- no arms, no legs -- who barely survived the Weaver family (aka the Arkansas Cannibals, aka the Spiderfolk) and lives to constantly tell everyone about it. And Martin, who wouldn't be caught dead without his "frames": virtual-reality glasses, because they enable him to see the Dwellers (or so he believes), and if he can't see the Dwellers, well, he will, in fact, be caught dead. Barbara is the middle-aged, pantsuit-attired, married one -- and mother of two boys; the calm one, the rational one, the one whose body holds the secret of the Scrimshander's message. And last is the striking young blonde Greta, the quiet one, who Harrison believes just might be the craziest one of them all. Her body was a document, a calling card, as it were, to a Hidden One, from the other side.
We were a team of professional insomniacs. Once you know there are monsters under the bed, closing your eyes becomes a foolhardy act. So, we paced. We stared into the dark. We listened for the creak of the opening door.
Harrison had been right; this was no hero's journey they were on. [Joseph] Campbell didn't understand the other stories in the world. The group knew the truth:
A monster crosses over into the everyday world. The mortals struggle and show great courage, but it's no use. The monster kills first the guilty, then the innocent, until finally only one remains. The Last Boy, the Last Girl. There is a final battle. The Last One suffers great wounds, but in the final moment vanquishes the monster. Only later does he or she recognize that this is the monster's final trick; the scars run deep, and the awareness of the truth grows like an infection. The Last One knows that the monster isn't dead, only sent to the other side. There it waits until it can slip into the mundane world again. Perhaps next time it will be a knife-wielding madman, or a fanged beast, or nameless tentacled thing. It is the monster with a thousand faces. The details matter only to the next victims.
We Are All Completely Fine will be published in August, and is now available for preorder.
And don't be afraid to look under the bed...or open the closet door....
[If you've made it this far, a brief note: My apologies for the lack of content on this blog during the past month. A workout mishap ended up placing me at the sharp end of a surgeon's blade. I'm now in week two of recovery, and hope to be at full speed just in time to complete my taxes before the April 15 deadline.]