Cone Zero: Nemonymous 8 edited by D F Lewis
Megazanthus Press 2008
"The names of the authors who created the short fiction within this book are shown below but not in the same order as the titles in the contents list"
Neil James Hudson
A J Kirby
S D Tullis
David M Fitzpatrick
The Fathomless World: “They’d told him his head was in the clouds: that’s why he was taller than anyone else”.
The Gawkers are observers, and The Tall Man, an artist; this being so, one might have thought that their coexistence would be mutually rewarding. But the Gawkers might not have even noticed The Tall Man if he hadn’t cut a branch from the tree and begun carving it. By doing this, they told him, he had stopped something from forming into something else. And now he must pay for that crime.
He is banished to wander for all time in the Fathomless Building.
This story begins like a simple fantasy-SF tale or parable; and as The Tall Man lives out his punishment and somehow transcends it, the story takes on fairy tale qualities. It will probably remain in mind for a long time.
The Point of Oswald Masters: Oswald Masters’ latest art gallery ‘installation’ is a series of five cones of decreasing dimensions. But Oswald is furious when his work is first exhibited. It seems the exhibit is incomplete. There should be a sixth cone of zero height, zero diameter and zero volume…
Without this last cone, which Oswald considers the most perfect, the exhibit is meaningless; any attempt to review the work will entirely miss the point.
The search begins for this perfect cone of zero proportions, and an amusing idea is projected into realms of inspired lunacy and satire. Every unkind thought you’ve ever had about pretentious artists asking good money to look at heaps of bricks surface as Oswald and his long-suffering agent pursue the missing cone zero. A genuinely involving and funny story that actually had me laughing out loud.
Cone Zero: The first of four stories here to share its title with that of the anthology. The narrator visits his friends, the identical Ian and Steve, and begins a journey into a mind-bending drug-induced nightmare suggesting scenes from Withnail and I on a bad trip, the humour less forgiving.
Someone – or several people – leave identically misspelled, threatening messages on the door, the toilet resembles part of another much older building, and the stereo plays music from hell, while the girl with the green hair looks decidedly unwell. A look behind the curtains into someone’s private hell, this one is uncompromising and unrelenting.
Cone Zero: The second story to share the anthology’s title is one of the best Nemonymous stories that I’ve read yet; in fact I think it would grace any anthology it appeared in. Wise has had an accident and has sustained a head injury. This wouldn’t be good news at any time, but it’s particularly unfortunate here as this story is set in a grim alternate world where medicine and surgery have been outlawed, crimes punishable by death, and even the patients, the victims, are considered culpable.
Wise wakes up in what seems to be a secret hospital staffed by volunteers, aware that even if he recovers, there will be no return to his family and previous life.
As the story progresses, he begins to have doubts about the volunteers caring for him, and even about the other patients in the ward. Is it possible they’re watching him, waiting for him to make a move?
When he does move, the story takes a turn into even more bizarre regions, involving a ‘Slow War’ and the rewriting of history. The writing here is good, touched with brilliance, and there’s a brutal double-murder which will have any thriller-reader tightening his grip on the pages. If there’s satirical comment here, I’ll leave others to explore it; simply taken as a bizarre piece of SF, this one should repay most readers cost of admission.
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More to come...