Cody Goodfellow & Joseph S. Pulver Sr.’s New Maps of Dream is an anthology that also serves as a love letter to the Deamlands stories of H.P. Lovecraft and others. Filled with carefully chosen stories themed after dreams and a special reality in them, this is a collection in which even the most predictable elements are exquisitely crafted.
Damien Angelica Walters entry is “The Sweetest Little Girl in the World” and is composed of the transcripts and notes of a therapist speaking to a girl named Lissa after her sister disappears. The girl keeps speaking of an unusual place she goes when she falls asleep that is not, as such, a dream. The therapist believes this is some attempt to recover after the loss of her sister or possibly even seeing something happen to her.
This story is a fascinating example of the thin line between fantasy and horror storytelling. While there are a great many features allowing for either interpretation, the large and steady build-up paints an increasingly disturbing picture that nonetheless seems wonderous in its strangeness. There are fascinating reflections in this piece on the myrid ways that investigations into a dissapearance can affect a child, down to the fact that her comments are often taken for hints at what really happened in a few cases and the police run with them. It is a delicate but wonderful balance this story manages.
Philip Fracassi’s “Over 1,000,000 Copies in Print” is a fascinating bit of horrific storytelling related to a certain kind of dream, and a phenomena anyone familiar with the bookworld will recognize. Dan manages, part of a chain bookstore. His location is holding a signing with a boy who, like so many others, claims to have been dead and experienced something wondrous with religious overtones. Yet when the line builds up to multiple city blocks long before the signing begins, Dan finds himself ill equipped to handle the situation both in ways that he is familiar with and ways that he is not.
Another fascinating tale that deals with the oddity of visions during a peculiar state of unconsciousness, this story builds up the horror steadily and quickly, yet with a creeping dread worthy of a successor to Lovecraft. There is little to no noticeable bigotry in the story, save that the atheist protagnist is depicted as having a serious problem with religion in general. Even this is nuanced, as his hatred is focused through faith based books like the one described in the story, which are seen by him and many others as downright predatory.
New Maps of Dream is an excellent new collection looking at a well known topic with an eye to the particular mythology built by a single man. There are tales with subject matters ranging from cutting to fortune hunting, and many more. While not every tale will be to every taste, some absolute gems of dark fantasy and horror sit between the covers of this book. This one is easy to recommend to fans of the Dreamlands, but also to those who enjoy the surreal and strange.
(PS Publishing, 2021)