"The skeleton was wearing Sarah's pale blue nightgown, and what looked like dried-up pieces of tree bark—skin, he realized, yes...her skin—lay all around, on and between the white bones. The teeth grinned, and from the bed there was the bittersweet odor of a damp graveyard.
"Oh..." he whispered, and he stood staring down at what was left of his wife as his eyes bagan to bulge from their sockets...."
Robert R. McCammon's horror novels include such modern classics of the genre as Baal and Stinger. Blue World is his first short fiction collection, an outstanding showcase of his unique power to shock, terrify and disturb the reader. Containing thirteen varied pieces, some of which have not been previously published, Blue World is modern horror fiction at its compelling best. It demostrates superbly why critics have compared McCammon's work with that of such other giants of terror as Stephen King and Peter Straub.
Blue World contains the following stories:
- "Yellowjacket Summer"
- "Doom City"
- "Yellachile's Cage"
- "I Scream Man"
- "He'll Come Knocking at Your Door"
- "Night Calls the Green Falcon"
- "The Red House"
- "Something Passed By"
- "Blue World" (Novella)
- "Strange Candy" (Subterranean Press TPB)
- "White" (Subterranean Press TPB)
- "Children of the Bedtime Machine" (Subterranean Press TPB)
|Introduction to Blue World|
by Robert R. McCammon
Fast Cars, the sign said.
It was in front of a used-car lot in the neighborhood where I grew up. Fast Cars. My friends and I passed it every day on our way to school. Our bikes were the fast cars of our imagination, our Mustangs and Corvettes and Thunderbirds. We longed for four wheels, but we were confined to two and on them we hurtled into the future.
I've built my own fast cars. They're in this book, and they're eager for passengers. They're not made of metal, glass, nuts, and bolts, but rather of the fabric of wonder. All of them have a starting point, and all of them have a destination. You can sit behind the wheel, but I have to steer. Trust me.
We will travel, you and I, across a tortured land where hope struggles to grow like seed in a drought. In this land, a place with no boundaries, we'll run the freeways and back roads and we'll listen to the song of the wheels and peer into windows at lives that might be our own, if we lived in that land. Sometimes we'll have the wind at our backs, and sometimes in our faces. We'll see storms in the distance, whirling closer, and we'll smell the forest and the sea and the hot concrete of the city. Our road will lead us onward, deeper into the tortured land, and as the speedometer revs and the engine roars, we may find strange visions on that twisting highway.
A man who awakens one morning to find a skeleton in bed where his wife had been the night before.
A small-time thief who steals a makeup case, and learns a dead horror star's secret.
A roadside diner, where a Vietnam veteran comes seeking shelter from the storm.
A young man in prison, who finds beauty and hope on the wings of a yellow bird.
Halloween in a very special residential area, where trick-or-treating is deadly serious.
A red house on a street of gray houses, and a breath of sweet fire.
The adventures of a has-been serial hero, who dons his old costume and goes in search of a serial killer.
A priest obsessed by a porno star, and his realization that both of them are being stalked by a third shadow.
We will see worlds within worlds from the windows of our fast car. We might even see the end of the world, and we might sit on a front porch for a while and sip a glass of gasoline on a hot December day.
Some of these roads are tricky. Some of them have sudden curves that want to throw us off into space. Some of them bubble under the blinding sunlight, and some of them freeze beneath the cold white moon. But we have to take them all, if we want to get from here to there. And isn't journeying what life is all about? The question of what lies beyond the dark hills, beyond the steaming forests, beyond the locked door?
The key to a fast car can take you there.
Novels are limousines, stately and smooth. Some of them can ride like tanks, slow and heavy, well-armored. The fast cars of short stories: those are the vehicles that let us zoom close to the ground, with the wind in our hair and the speedometer's needle vibrating on the dangerous edge. Sometimes they're hard to handle; they have minds of their own, and they call for close attention. They can crash and burn so easily, but their sleek power yearns for speed. In such a fast car, we can go anywhere. No locked door can keep us out, and if we want to see what lies around the next bend, or the next hill, all we have to do is steer toward it. We'll be there, roaming through the tortured land, with the lights of other lives and different worlds passing on either side.
I'd like to thank a number of people who have encouraged me in my building of the fast cars in this book. Thank you to Frank Coffey, who published "Makeup," my first short story; to Dave Silva of The Horror Show, and Paul and Erin Olson of Horrorstruck, for their friendship and encouragement; to Stephen King and Peter Straub for setting the pace and leaving burning treadmarks on the pavement; to Charles L. Grant for his black-and-white visions; to Joe and Karen Lansdale for true grit; to Tappan King of Twilight Zone magazine; to J.N. Williamson and John Maclay for their first publication of "Nightcrawlers"; to Dean R. Koontz, and he knows why; to those good ol' boys Tom Monteleone and Al Sarrantonio; to Ray Bradbury, whose short story "The Lake" made me cry when I was a little boy; to Forrest J. Ackerman, my true father, who raised me on Famous Monsters of Filmland; to Tony Gardner; and to Sally, who always stands beside me.
The fast cars are waiting. Listen: their engines are starting up. We have a distance to travel, you and I. Buckle your seat belt. I'll have to steer, because I know the roads. Trust me.
Ready? Then let's go out, in our cocoon of speed, and see what finds us.
Robert R. McCammon
Copyright © 1990 by Robert R. McCammon. This introduction originally appeared in the Pocket Books paperback edition of Blue World, first printed in April 1990. Reprinted with permission of the author.
McCammon skillfully weaves elements of horror and adventure with a variety of writing styles to create 13 exceedingly readable pieces. Travel through his universe and meet such inhabitants as Chico, a special child who exacts subtle revenge on his mother's abusive boyfriend, or a Vietnam vet whose deadly nightmares become real. The piece de resistance, especially in terms of character development, is the novella "Blue World." Father John Lancaster discovers that he has put his faith and his life in peril when he falls in love with a porn star who is being stalked by a deranged serial killer. A powerful, well-written collection. --John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Rapid-fire action alternating with intense introspection, plus imagery that conjures visions of movie special effects, make McCammon's (The Wolf's Hour) multifaceted collection of new and reprinted tales worthwhile despite some uninspired story lines. In the title novella, Father John Lancaster battles temptations of the flesh and becomes a better priest as he saves the life of a cocaine-snorting porn queen. At the end of the world, described in "Something Passed By," the laws of nature go awry: water becomes combustible, concrete turns to quicksand, people move swiftly toward old age or infancy. A Vietnam veteran's nightmares materialize in "Nightcrawlers," yielding terror and death for his associates. "He'll Come Knocking at Your Door" trivializes the Faustian pact by having the devil arrive for trick-or-treat on Halloween to collect his due. An old-fashioned cliff-hanger concludes each segment of "Night Calls the Green Falcon," in which a retired cinema superhero takes up his cape again to stalk a real-life prostitute's murderer. (Apr.)