the Little Red Reviewer

Irredeemable, by Jason Sizemore

Posted on: June 17, 2014

 

This post is part of the Irredeemable blog tour!  Check out Tomorrow Comes Media to see other bloggers involved with this tour and learn more about other blog tours.

irredeemable coverIrredeemable, by Jason Sizemore

published April 2014

where I got in: purchased the e-book

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Advertised as a horror anthology, Irredeemable has plenty of awful people who get exactly what they deserve in horrific ways with no hope of escape. But it’s also peppered with Urban fantasy stories, straight up science fiction tales, and the most horrific stories in which yes, someone did something bad, but surely not so bad to deserve what they get. And this deep in the Appalachian hills, where fear, religion, suspicion, and xenophobia run rampant, there’s always someone available to get what they deserve.

If straight up, nail biting, edge of your seat horror is your thing, be sure to read “City Hall”, in which a human resources department employes a very unique method of saving taxpayer dollars; “Ice Cream At the Falls”, an open ended story in which you’ll probably be cheering when this particular asshole gets exactly what he deserves after learning the truth about a false conviction; “Sleeping Quartet”, in which “what could possibly go wrong?” is taken further than you’d expect, and  “The Dead & Metty Crawford”, which is the absolute creepiest most disturbing zombie story possibly ever written, among many others.

Quite a few of the stories have an urban fantasy and science fictional twist, and it didn’t surprise me in the least that those were the ones I was most drawn to.  Throw in aliens, or zombies, or voodoo, or robots, or space stations, and I am all over that. And Science Fiction horror? Now we are talking!  If this paragraph is sounding like more your cuppa tea, “Plug and Play”, a darkly humorous story about a drug mule; “Mr. Templar”, in which robots are all that’s left on Earth after an apocalypse; and “Sonic Scarring”, in which what’s left of humanity hides in the hills after an alien invasion were written just for you.

With everything from gothic horror to post apocalyptic science fiction, the connecting thread is that of characters trying to escape the consequences of their decisions, and nearly begging the reader to forgive them.

Let me tell you a bit more about my stand out favorites:

 

“Caspar” – This is the opener of the collection, and offers a feel for what you can expect in many of the other stories.  In search of guidance and salvation, Torrence has gotten this close to entering the Church, he just needs to take those last few steps. He’s lost everything – his family, his job, all hope in life. Maybe this is as far as he can go on his journey towards salvation. Torrence doesn’t really want to talk to anyone, but a fellow named Caspar sits down next to him, and starts talking all about the gifts the Three Wise Men brought to the baby Jesus. This isn’t a religious story, but let’s just say Torrence needs a little help taking those last few steps, and Caspar is there to provide that help.

 

“Little Digits” – Quick and vicious, this would make an excellent campfire story. But maybe not if there is an elementary school teacher in your camping group. In this teacher’s classroom, the students exact the punishment.

 

“Mr. Templar” – Much of humanity was able to escape the Earth before the apocalypse hit. Now, only robots roam the planet, and even these thinking machines are smart enough to realize their time too, is running out. They can repair their rusting and broken bodies, but only if fuel, lubricants and extra parts are found. Like desperate humans, the robots are not above killing each other for the petroleum and other bits and pieces they carry. Mr. Templar is one such robot, and he has killed to stay alive. When he finds a dying android, which answers to the name of Mr. Ruby, Mr. Templar decides to pity the pathetic machine and not destroy it. Especially since Mr. Ruby claims to know the location of a secret fuel and supply depot.  Thus, the two androids set off across the desolation. Mr. Templar might be hallucinating, or it might be a signal of his impending death when his human creator appears before him and talks to him.  A slower paced and surprisingly emotional story, the prose screamed emptiness and bleakness,  counter-intuitively making for an undeniably compelling read.

 

“Plug and Play” – On an orbital station above the Earth, Clayton hates his job. He hates his stupid android supervisor, Earl, who always says the same inane things, he hates the stupid android bartender who doesn’t want to give him another drink. Waking up at the medical station drunk tank, Clayton’s next life decision has already been made for him.  He’s going to be ejected from the orbital station anyways, so why not make some money on the side? Without his consent, he’s been packed full of baggies of drugs. One drug mule drop to Earth, coming right up! This is a zany, action-packed, darkly humorous story with an SFnal twist. Clayton may have insulted his supervisor, he may have said some mean things, but he doesn’t deserve what he gets in the hands of the gangsters who want what’s inside his body. But at least the reader will get a chuckle out of his naked drive across Jamaica with the elderly Esther who keeps introducing herself as his consort. Being a drug mule is a life changing experience, that’s for sure.

 

“Pranks” – Mason is constantly playing pranks on his little brother Jerry Wayne. After their uncle’s funeral, Mason gets a kick out of scaring the shit out of his brother by convincing him their property is haunted by their dead uncle’s very angry and corpulent ghost. One day, Mason is going to have to learn that it’s not fair to scare such a young child, and that the quickest way to anger the dead is to disrespect them.  Have a brother or sister you’ve played a prank on? You’ll feel guilty as hell after reading this story!

 

“Sonic Scarring” – After the K’tavi invasion, many of the surviving humans hid in the mountains. It’s not the K’tavi themselves that are so frightening, but their incessant, never ending drumming.  People dig deeper and deeper into the mountains, trying to escape that horrible sound. Via a writing style that takes advantage of repetition, the drumming gets into the reader’s head too, and there is no escape.  The story opens with a nightmare of a vision, and Jones isn’t sure if this a dream, or his future.  A future, that’s the one thing he wants. A future with Michelle, a future with the little boy they saved from that alien bio-machine in that church. This is a complex tale, one in which what’s left of humanity is trying to survive what their world has become. If the K’tavi offer a bargain for peace, is any price too high?

 

“The XX Agent” – Not an easy story to read, not at all.   Norman isn’t a good man. He’s a buyer for the Yakuza. And when I mean “buyer”, I mean he offers poor Chinese fathers a year’s wages for their daughters, who are then delivered to the Yakuza to be “comfort girls” if they behave, slaves if they don’t. You get the idea. Norman wasn’t always that guy, the guy who hunts, intimidates, buys and sells flesh. But he’s been doing it so long he doesn’t really know how to do anything else anymore. This latest girl he’s bought, Li Mei, is different from the other girls. She’s older, and she’s been sexually abused by her family. Is where she’s going an improvement on her life?  Maybe turning her life around will be the first step he takes in turning his own life around. Again, this not an easy story to read, and it just gets harder to continue the further you read. But you’ve got to keep reading, you need to know what Norman decides to do. It’s good that this one shows up near the end of the collection.

 

“The Dead and Metty Crawford” – What do you get when you mix zombies and hillbilly horror? something like this story, where two kids are running through the woods, running from the undead, and they find themselves at an old man’s cabin. Old Man Metty lets them in, but maybe they’d be safer if they’d stayed outside with the undead.  All those stories the local grannies tell the young’uns about Old Man Metty, they couldn’t possibly be true, could they?  This is one of the damned creepiest stories I have ever read.  I’m not going to tell you much more for fear of spoiling it, but this is definitely one of those stories that you want to read in broad daylight, with all the lights turned on, and not in a cabin out in the woods.

 

“Useless Creek” – After the disappearance of his T.V. celebrity wife, Professor Turner just wants to be left alone.  But that asshole Marsden keeps showing up, and keeps talking, and knows way too much about Turner’s private business. Turner is about to punch that jerk in the face, but when Marsden claims to know where his wife Cassie is, suddenly Turner is all ears. Part ghost story, part urban fantasy, part Tim Powers style voodoo horror,  the reader can’t help but hope Turner will do the right thing when the time comes. But what’s the right thing?

 

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4 Responses to "Irredeemable, by Jason Sizemore"

Horror is just not my thing. Glad you liked it.

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OFF TOPIC: that post is up.

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it’s funny with horror. I didn’t much care for Stephen King when I was younger, so thought that I just didn’t like horror. But scifi-horror? psyhological horror? I can’t get enough of it! So I’ve been dipping my toes into contemporary horror these last few years, and been doing pretty good. eh, still avoiding King.

also, what you posted on your blog today? GORGEOUS and I am jealous. Makes me wanna go spend all my money at Julie Dillon’s site.

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If you do that, set aside some for the framing, it’s expensive!

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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