This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
Regular readers of the site will be aware that Ferretbrain is a pretty happening site these days; we’ve got more people commenting on more articles, we have two whole podcasts up, we have snazzy business cards. I suppose it was inevitable that sooner or later someone would recognise us for the bigshots we clearly are – we’ve already had slightly dubious e-mails offering us silly money in return for a few links on the Friends page, which we courageously turned down because it was a blatant scam.
But now, at last, our international fame and prestige has won us that most precious resource that all Internet Critics dream of: freebies. You see, author Jim Bernheimer has a new short story collection out, entitled Horror, Humor, and Heroes, and he’s sent us a PDF copy to review for the site. Score!
We actually had a moment of confused panic when we got Jim’s request: is he serious about this? Has he read our reviews? If he has, does he simply have balls of steel or is he so confident in the quality of his work that he doesn’t expect us to pan it? And most importantly, who gets first crack at the pinata?
Eventually our editor offered me the job on the basis that I’ve got as much claim as anyone to being the resident horror expert. Amusingly enough, title aside this volume has only the most tenuous of connections to the horror genre. Granted, it wheels out zombies and werewolves and vampires, but it invariably either treats them in a comedic manner or takes a more fantasy/SF-based approach to them: the zombie stories, for example, are more about the implications of mankind surviving a zombie apocalypse than they are about scaring the reader; they’re “what if” stories that happen to feature the undead.
Horror, Humor, and Heroes is available in any format you could possibly want, from paperback to PDF to Kindle; the full range of places you can purchase it are avaiable at Jim’s site. My PDF copy is a reasonably nicely put-together package, despite lacking the cover art (though that might be down to it being a review copy), although I did notice typos and grammatical errors unfortunately frequently. This is not the only aspect of Jim’s writing where he really needs an editor to help him out, but it’s the most obvious one; there’s even typos in the opening dedication. Another oddity is that every single story in the collection has “by Jim Bernheimer” written prominently underneath the title, which in a multi-author compilation is obviously the normal state of affairs but is utterly pointless when you have a collection of short stories that are all by the same author and don’t involve any collaborations.
Normally, with short story collections, I’d tend to focus on the generalities and pick out perhaps one or two stories for special comment, but I am going to take a different approach here and discuss each story in turn. This case merits such an approach, because each story is notable and inspires comment. (It’s just that, ah, most of the time that isn’t a good thing.) First off I’ll discuss the various shorter tales, then I’ll dive into Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, the novella that takes up about half the book, and I’ll conclude with a look at the two-chapter preview of Bernheimer’s upcoming fantasy novel series Battle Maidens.