Among the Dead, and Other Events Leading Up to the Apocalypse
by Edward Bryant
Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted December 19, 2019
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The seventeen stories in this collection were written between 1970-73, two of them original to the first book publication of Among the Dead (and Other Stories Leading Up to the Apocalypse). The reprint from ReAnimus came in 2013. It's possible they may come out with another title in the future, but for now it's the last of Ed's for me to review. I saved it for last because it's the longest, but since it features his early work it is an uneven collection. In spite of the title, not all of them deal with death, but almost all focus on despair and/or anxiety. Two of the better stories were also in later collections; the Nebula finalist "Shark" was in the previously reviewed Particle Theory, and "Jody After the War" appeared in The Baku. "Their Thousandth Season" was in Cinnabar under the title "Grey Matters," but it is not as good as another story that featured the same character, Tourmaline Hayes.
Only two other stories worth mentioning. "The Poet in the Hologram in the Middle of Prime Time" concerns a man who would rather be writing poetry, but he's in high demand with the networks for his innovative hologram dramas. The latest twist is to immerse the viewer in the experience as a participant in the action. The collection ends with "Dune's Edge," which is a well-written story, at the same time being derivative. It reminded me of the play "Six Characters In Search of an Author," as well as the original Twilight Zone episode, "Five Characters In Search of an Exit." Unlike the latter, the story ends without a resolution of the dilemma. The rest are weak, representative of a writer still in search of his craft, with several attempting a stream-of-consciousness style that fall short of the goal. It surprises me that many appeared in prestigious original anthologies like Damon Knight's Orbit, Terry Carr's Universe, and Silverberg's New Dimensions, although I suppose it was appropriate that the story on bestiality was from National Lampoon.
I'm still an Ed Bryant fan, although I can't recommend this one. The three other collections mentioned above, along with his novel Phoenix Without Ashes, are well worth your time. I have several other sites bookmarked that list a lot of his stories that have never been collected beyond their original printing, and one of these days I hope to track down as many as possible.
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