Reviews of Short Stories

The ZoneOn “The Strong Will Survive”
from Space & Time, #99
Spring 2005

John Everson’s “The Strong Will Survive” is a deceptive little ditty that looks like a horror story but ends up being science fiction. In this tale, a group of people meet in an abandoned subway tunnel to pay their last respects to a man lying in a glass-covered coffin. Told in the first person, the story follows the man who has arranged this bizarre funeral as he tells in flashbacks how all the people came to be there. His wife has just died, and he finds a doctor’s card among her things. He tracks the doctor down to a decrepit office park, where the physician, Dr. Chavis, reveals that he was performing genetic research to create a race of immortals, and that the main character is his son. Not only that, but he has many offspring, and if they mate with someone who isn’t one of the doc’s special children, they cause their partners to die. His children will never get sick, and are marked by the same facial mole. When the doctor dies, our main character arranges this “funeral” and sends out letters to Chavis’ other “childen” letting them know what happened so they can come and weep, or blame, or mourn the cause of all their suffering, for they have all lost lovers too.

This is a wonderfully done story that deftly weaves elements of horror with science fiction. The writing is top-notch, and will hold up to successive re-readings. Everson is a good writer, and I hope to see more of his work in the future.

–Reviewed for TANGENT by James Palmer

On “The Tapping ”
from Spooks!
(Twilight Tales, Fall 2004)

I have been having the delightful pleasure of reading SPOOKS! over the weekend. Overall a solid, inventive and well concieved collection of horror stories. I will save from commenting on all the stories but one here, my favourite, John’s “The Tapping.”

From the opening paragraph I was intriqued and “grabbed.” I read it first quickly, excitedly allowing my eyes to devour the words greedily. Then, I breathed, stretched, and re-read it a second time at a more gentle pace, allowing careful examination of the word structure and phrasing. One can definitely get a sense of Poe here, yet, this is far from a mere copy of the master — This is clearly John Everson, an original.

In my opinion this is excellent stuff, and highly reccomended. I have been reading this genre of fiction for twenty-five years, most of what I read these days is oft uninspired, overly gorey and explicitly sexual, this is not always to my taste. If there is any justice in this world, John Everson should soon be joining the honoured ranks of the most respected (and indeed succesful) contemporary horror writers.

–Message Posted to John Everson Yahoo Group by Paul Gifford


The ZoneOn “Green, Green Glass”
from DAMNED: An Anthology of the Lost
(Necro Publications, Spring 2004)

It took ten years for Necro’s David Barnett to decide to assemble a horror anthology and here’s the product of his effort: Damned, a volume featuring all stories of hell and damnation…The book includes contributions both by big names in the field and by a couple of newcomers…Fortunately, Barnett has been smart enough to recruit a number of good, expert writers whose contributions definitely save the book from the risk of being a disaster. John Everson‘s “Green Green Grass” is a nice portrait of the spiritual and physical damnation facing a rock guitarist used to waste women and hurt other people’s feelings.

–Reviewed for THE ZONE by Mario Guslandi


Cemetery Dance 51When Necro Publications calls together writers such as Ed Lee, Jack Ketchum, Brian Hodge, Tom Piccirilli, Gary Braunbeck, Gerard Houarner, John Everson, Charlee Jacob, Jeffrey Thomas, Mehitobel Wilson, Patrick Lestewka, and Doc Salammen, there’s one prediction you can safely make: there will be carnage and it won’t be pretty. Okay, that’s two predictions. Challenged to write about hell, either classic or personal, none of these writers would ever be at a loss for words. The theme is loose enough to allow many approaches, but direct enough to herd in their grotesquely fertile imaginations.

John Everson‘s “Green Green Glass” is the book’s only rock-and-roll parable, and you may never drink Rolling Rock again after reading it….

–Reviewed for Cemetery Dance #51 (Winter 2005) by William D. Gagliani


Kansas City InfozineOn “Preserve”
reprinted in Black October magazine

Eight horror stories exist in this issue of Black October Magazine, and overall they are of high quality….”Preserve,” by John Everson, follows a man who approaches Arthur, the neighborhood taxidermist, about doing a job. The job, however, is to preserve the protagonist, who has lost his desire to live. The ending is sufficiently creepy to satisfy most any fan of horror, but it’s Arthur’s little “display” of creations that really serves to disturb the reader. Not long on words, but definitely long on horror. Great work by Everson.

–Reviewed for KANSAS CITY INFOZINE by Dennis Kriesel


Terror TalesOn “Sacrificing Virgins”
from The Dead Inn anthology
(Delirium Books, February 2000)

How do you comment on an anthology in which the quality of the stories is consistently high? What stories do you highlight as exceptional when virtually all of them meet the grade? The collection causing us such difficulty is of course The Dead Inn, edited by Shane Ryan Staley, 232 pages packed with quality fiction by a collection of authors boasting a mass of publishing credits between them….”Sacrificing Virgins” by John Everson leaves a horrific and lasting picture in the mind, perhaps more so than any other story in this collection.

–Reviewed for TERROR TALES by Lisa Negus & Robert D Rowntree


The Dead Inn fulfills Staley’s promise early on, as the guests on “the first floor,” those writing “gross oddities,” produce captivating and original tales of depravity, revenge, and dysfunctionality. Notable contributions can be found on the tour of this floor [including] John Everson’s “Sacrificing Virgins,” a tale of a rock star’s final hour, when he must pay for having sold his soul.

–Reviewed for NECROPSY


Standouts in the first section are Don D’Ammassa’s “Something in Common,” where killing your spouse becomes a repetitive chore, Charlee Jacob’s “Baby,” which continues her exploration of sex among the deformed, Michael Laimo’s “Snuff’s Enough,” in which a pornographer tries to win back business from a competitor, Fredrick Obermeyer’s “The Last Piece,” a frightening tale of a possessed piano, John Everson‘s “Sacrificing Virgins,” a truly nasty deal with the devil tale, Steve Beai’s amazing “Razor Wire,” about which the less said, the better, and Mark McLaughlin’s satire “The End of the World is Brought to You By–,” which puts a Cthulhu spin on old TV shows.

Reviewed for CEMETERY DANCE by Garret Peck


Most of the stories found in this anthology are really powerful and outstanding, some are sick and demented, yet perversely entertaining (“Magic Fingers” by Judith Tracy and “Sacrificing Virgins” by John Everson come to mind) and then there are a couple that left me shaking my head as to why they would be included in this volume or any other for that matter…

–Reviewed for BELLA ONLINE by Lisa Babick


On “Biological Imperative
from the Distant Journeys anthology

This story received a Third Place award in the Soft SF Writer’s Association’s 1995 Best of Soft SF Contest and an Honorable Mention in the L.Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest in 1994. The following is from the Writers of the Future judging letter:

“I liked this story quite a bit. It has some interesting conflicts, nice tone and fine pacing…I do hope to see more from you soon.”

–Dave Wolverton


John Everson‘s “Biological Imperative” is a story that could have probably used a different point of view. That said, it is another one that offers interesting, believable aliens, these with a physiological twist that the story rests on. The fact that Everson chose to tell the story in the manner he did means that much of the impact is lost, however. This would have done much better as a classic scientific mystery, just waiting to be unlocked.

–Reviewed for TANGENT by Derryl Murphy


On “Finding A Smile In A Lost City”
from Sirius Visions magazine
(Issue #5, 1995)

“Finding a Smile in a Lost City” by John Everson is a fun story about a boy who has an occasional brush with goblins. One goblin in particular, rather. Arrshgran, king of the once-grand but now sadly (?) dwindled Goblin City of Fairrundale. It seems humanity is doing its usual expansionist thing and the city is nigh to being overwhelmed and flooded out by the latest 100 or whatever unit housing project.

Enter Billy Knocker. Billy helped Arrshgran play the trick that won him the kingship, and Billy thinks Arrshgran owes him a favor. Arrshgran thinks not eating Billy or his family is favor enough, but he reluctantly lets Billy come to live in the failing Goblin city when the kids’ teasing at his new school becomes unbearable. Billy makes a wretched goblin, but Billy’s time in the city gives him a hint of how the goblins’ problem with developers might be solved. It involves another prank, of course.

I liked this story. I shouldn’t have. It was full of said-bookisms and accidental images. For example, “‘This is our home,’ he explained with flashing fangs.” Some sort of semaphore code? A visual aid? Sorry, but I hate accidental images especially. They tend to jar me out of anything I’m reading and make me giggle besides. The tone of this story lets Everson get away with it this time, the occasional giggle not being out of place. Everson can already tell a story. Once he refines his technique a little, he might be worth watching for.

–Reviewed for TANGENT by Richard Parks


On “Cage of Bones”
from Into The Darkness
issue #2, 1995

There are actually a pair of stories that I would consider for first place here. “Cage of Bones,” by John Everson is a twisted tale of sexual perversions, and a very well written one at that. Everson creates great characters, puts them in strange but seemingly real-feeling situations and then lets us watch them go at it. This is story telling at its best where we feel almost voyeuristic as we follow the action. Equally as well done, and also detailing a certain degree of sexual perversion, is Ron Dionne’s “Born Again.”… Either story would probably justify purchase of this magazine. Both together along with the strong showing of the other stories in this issue make me think that one would not only want to get this issue but subscribe so that you don’t miss any future goodies. Writing of this quality is a pretty rare thing and to find true horror in modern settings is even rarer. That Into the Darkness has managed to capture such high quality writers writing at their best is almost too hard to be believed. Believe it, buy it and enjoy.

–Reviewed for SCAVENGER’S NEWSLETTER by Steven Sawicki


Back to predictability, John Everson, with his “Cage of Bones” seemed to have forgotten that anyone who’s ever watched a scary movie knows that if the guy gets tied up for sex, he is going to die — and probably during the fun part.

Guess what.

–Reviewed for DEATHREALM by Andrea Locke


On “Tunnel”
a short-short punny tale from Next Phase
issue #14, 1995

John Everson‘s “Tunnel” is the sort of lame joke story that you’d expect if Reader’s Digest put out a science fiction magazine. Sadly, there is even a bit of hard SF in it that might have formed the basis for something in a real story — the idea of quantum effects at the viral level.

–Reviewed for TANGENT by Mark Kreighbaum


On “Hair of the Dog”
from Sirius Visions magazine
issue #2, 1994

“Hair of the Dog” by John Everson is something I thought I would never see in the pages of Sirius Visions. It is a black comedy involving a baby roasting, heir-apparent goblin king and a little boy. There are dark overtones in this work but it is played off for fun, which proves that editor Marybeth O’Halloran isn’t anal retentive as far as her “no-horror” guidelines go. Evidently as long as the overall theme is positive, it fits in with her “visionary fiction” slant.

The story follows Billy Knocker, a boy trying to punish his sadistic gym coach Mr. Gillis for being a jerk. When Billy teams up with Arrshgran, a goblin prince trying to earn the throne by playing a nasty trick, it’s a partnership guaranteed to cause Coach Gillis no end of trouble.

Arrshgran must complete the religctaud to insure his place as heir after his father’s death. A religctaud is a prank, and the more ironic and destructive it is, the better it is.

At first, Arrshgran tries to wreak havoc at a construction site, but no matter what he does it seems that all his wrongs turn out right. When he tries to throw an evil spell on Billy, it too screws up. To top it all off, Billy isn’t even scared of him.

All turns out right in the end. Billy gets his revenge and Arrshgran gets to pull off a religctaud of great mirth. So I guess this really is a story of hope and kindness and all that — except for poor Coach Gillis.

The editor notes that this is the first of Everson’s goblin stories that they have in their inventory, so we will see more of this black humor in future issues. I enjoyed the story and hope that we will continue to see such variety in the pages of Sirius Visions. My tastes tend to run more toward the darker end of fantasy, so this tale was right up my alley.

–Reviewed for TANGENT by Bill Allen

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