When Nothing Stares Back is a collection of sci-fi and horror short stories, ranging from bite-sized flash-fiction, to slightly longer, short stories.
Seeing as this is a collection of different things, it’s difficult to say anything about the plot really. Most, if not all of the pieces are ambiguous and speculative in nature (which always works really well in short form), and I think my favorite was the sci-fi piece “Terror of the Lost Tribe”. Other than that one, I think I like the horror section best, simply because it works so well when you cut the word count really short. But many of the sci-fi works were also in a sense horror.
Vance’s writing is often poetic and lavish, but with the added benefit of not becoming pompous and purple. I can’t stand fancy writing for fancy writing’s sake, and this is right on the edge of that. Hat off to Vance.
I don’t read many of these types of collections of shorter works, but I think I’m going to start, because there’s something peaceful about picking up a book and being able to read for only 10-15 minutes, and still get to the end. It’s a nice change of pace, and this was a lovely collection to start with.
Some of the shorter pieces were a bit hit and miss for me. Most are clever and intriguing, but I felt that some maybe missed their mark. Often I felt like I didn’t get a clever point the author was trying to make, and I re-read the piece a few more times before moving on, thinking that either I didn’t get it, or I was trying too hard to look for something that wasn’t there. I suppose there’s some meaning to be found if that’s the case as well: sometimes a story is just a story. It definitely made me think.
If you’re looking for some cool, creepy, and fascinating shorter stories, you best check this out. Marcus Vance and When Nothing Stares Back delivers, and I’m hoping there will be a second volume.