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Predators and Other Stories
by Edward Bryant

Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted July 30, 2019

All six stories in this collection are copyright 1987, having originally appeared in a now out-of-print anthology titled Night Visions 4: Hardshell, edited and with an introduction by Clive Barker. It also included several stories each by Dean Koontz and Robert McCammon. I bought the e-book of Predators and Other Stories from ReAnimus Press in 2014. It includes Barker's introduction, along with story notes by Bryant, although I'm not sure if those notes were in the previous anthology. ReAnimus released nine of Bryant's collections, plus one novella and one novel, while he was still alive but suffering from complications with diabetes. Sadly, he passed away in 2017. I bought them all, and this is the seventh title I've reviewed, with two more to go. I have read two others but didn't review them because there were no speculative elements in any of the stories. One of those stories is repeated here, along with another mainstream one, but the other four definitely fall within the SF genres. Not science fiction, but at least fantasy and/or horror. I was thinking the title story would be another mainstream one, depicting a malicious stalker of a young woman new to the city, but the speculative twist came right at the end. It reminded me of similar stories from issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction, or episodes of The Twilight Zone, where everything seems mundane, until an other-worldly aspect that's just out of sight, just around a dark corner, is finally revealed. The second story is also SF, but also a repeat from two of the other collections, including as the title story in The Baku. The third story, "Frat Rat Bash," is mainstream so I won't discuss it. I also won't detail the final story, "Doing Colfax," a repeat from one of the non-reviewed titles.

That leaves two others, both examples of types that can be interpreted in two ways. Either the fantasy/horror element is real, or possibly just in a character's imagination. They work either way. "Haunted" features a character from a previous story, which I don't think I've read, it's not in any of the collections I have. Angela Black also recurs in a story I'll get to later. She is a witch, or at least claims to be, or maybe she just allows others to assume it without correcting them. It's not clear in this story. She gets a call from a potential client, whose voice sounds familiar but she can't place it. It turns out the woman who identified herself as "Clear Brook Eversoul" is actually Bonnie Keller, whom Angie hasn't seen in over ten years. Twenty years prior they had shared communal living space in an old house off campus in Boulder. Bonnie had always been into any and all things New Age, with her new assumed name one she acquired from the Menyata (I googled with no result). Angie at first thinks Bonnie needs to be deprogrammed from the latest cult, but no, Bonnie called for her witch services. She's been having dreams of a man she once thought she loved, before she married, someone who had lived for a time with her, and Angie, and Bonnie's future husband. Then he disappeared, with everyone assuming he had fled to Canada to avoid the draft. Angie is not sure why she doesn't get a vision of Danny, but through Bonnie's descriptions she thinks she's unraveled the mystery.

"Buggage" features a man lost in the desert in New Mexico, having wandered away from the highway while hitchhiking, confused by the heat and dehydration. He wanders till he reaches an old abandoned house, or at least he assumed it was abandoned. He may or may not have been infected, or infiltrated, by a mysterious entity. Whatever it was, if it's real and not just a hallucination, seems to have helped him through his ordeal. He eventually makes it back home, gets a good job, meets an attractive woman at work, with whom he begins a slow courtship. He's shy since he's a virgin, so she has to be the one to make the more agressive move. At first he thinks he's not ready, then when he decides he is, the entity inside him tells him he shouldn't go through with it. I'd tell you what that entity wants to be called, except it would be a major spoiler. So would telling you about what's inside the woman. Then again, maybe it's all a fever dream, and he's still wandering in the desert.

I didn't need the publisher's disclaimer at the end, stating that the author's notes were not to be taken seriously. They were more tongue-in-cheek, written as if by one of the characters, as if the stories were autobiographical. No matter how bleak some of them are, I'm pretty sure Bryant was not that macabre. I doubt he ever used the question "Have you ever killed anyone?" as party conversation. Plus in two of those notes he mentions his wife Nancy and his daughter, of how their deaths in an accident had affected him. As far as I've been able to determine, Bryant was never married and had no children. And I'm pretty sure he was never a serial killer cruising down Colfax Avenue looking for his next victim. I don't read a lot of horror, but even if I did I can disassociate the author from that type of behavior in real life. I'd venture a guess most of them are very humane, in tune with the wants, desires, and fears of average people, with the genre used to tell people they can face their fears, and possibly defeat them. That's what I take away from Bryant's stories at least. Again I have to say several of these collections disappoint only because of their brevity, as well as for the duplications. I'm only rating this one three stars, even though the last two stories might warrant a four. One novella to go, plus the longest of the collections, which is from earlier in his career.


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Edward Bryant

Stories: 1987
Collection: 2014

Available from ReAnimusPress