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They Do the Same Things Different There Paperback – Sep 16 2014
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About the Author
Robert Shearman has written four previous collections of short stories, and they have collectively won the World Fantasy Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and three British Fantasy Awards. He is probably best known as a writer on the BBC TV series DOCTOR WHO, and his work on the show gave him a Hugo Award nomination. His last book, REMEMBER WHY YOU FEAR ME, is also published by ChiZine Publications.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I think these fall into the Surreal genre, though I hesitate to label it that way because the Surrealists were an artistic movement that I know little about. Let me put it this way, this book is filled with stories where weird things are just given. Like A Grand Day Out, where everyone who dies gets one more day of youth, that's just the way things are.
My favorites were; A Joke in Four Panels, Taboo, Static, The Sixteenth Step, A Grand Day Out and Brand New Shiny Shiny
I think that the stories in this collection will please many fans of weird stories, because they contain plenty of weirdness and strange happenings. If you're like me and love well written quirky, imaginative and twisted stories, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the contents of this collection.
This collection contains the following stories:
- A Joke in Four Panels
- That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love
- Sounding Brass Tinkling Cymbal
- Page Turner
- Dumb Lucy
- 72 Virgins
- The Constantinople Archives
- Your Long, Loving Arms
- Brand New Shiny Shiny
- The Sixteenth Step
- Our Fallen Sons
- The All-New Adventures of Robin Hood
- Memories of Craving Long Gone
- It Flows From the Mouth
- A Grand Day Out
- History Becomes You
- One Last Love Song
Robert Shearman seems to have an endless imagination, because his stories contain many kind of happenings and fascinating weirdness. His stories are wonderfully literary and fantastical with a pinch of poignancy and a dash of irresistible quirkiness on top of them.
These stories are definitely "something different" and that's why it's a bit difficult to categorize them, but it's possible to categorize them as weird fantasy and new weirdish speculative fiction. Readers can find traces of fantasy, science fiction, horror and even bizarro fiction in them.
Robert Shearman explores and examines the world and the characters through a skewed lens and lets surreal and unexpected happenings take place in his stories. One of the best things about this collection is that when you begin to read a story, you don't at first know what's going to happen in it, because the author has a nice way of surprising his readers.
There's something for almost everybody in this collection, but it's possible that some of the stories may not be to everybody's liking, because the author writes about all kinds of things from love and cannibalism to family life and bestiality. I think it's great that the author doesn't try to please everybody with his stories, but writes all kinds of new weirdish stories. (I have lots of respect for authors who have courage to write extraordinary stories and are willing to add unsettling and unpleasant elements to them, because there are too many authors who try too hard to please everybody with their stories and end up writing mediocre speculative fiction.)
Before I write more about the contents of this collection, I think it's good to mention that the unsettling elements in these stories are a bit different kind of unsettling elements than what you normally find in collections that contain weird stories and dark fiction, because Robert Shearman has his own kind of unsettling writing style. When talking about his writing style, it's appropriate to talk about new weirdish kind of unsettling writing style.
Here's a bit of information about some of the stories:
- The Sixteenth Step is a well written and atmospheric horror story. In this short story the author tells about a bed-and-breakfast house that has a bit of weirdness to it. He also writes interestingly about love.
- Peckish is a fantastic story about the Von Zieten family and a scandal concerning the whole family. It's an interesting story about family life and cannibalism, and it's a fascinating take on the well-known fairy tale called Hansel and Gretel.
- Taboo is one of the weirdest stories in this collection, because it's a story about a woman who's getting married to a camel. In this story the author explores what is considered to be acceptable by the society and its laws.
- A Grand Day Out is one of the best stories in this collection. It's a beautifully written, nostalgic and also slightly bittersweet story.
- That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love is a disturbingly brilliant and emotional horror story about a brother and a sister who sacrifice and execute dolls. The author writes perfectly about Karen's feelings and what kind of an effect the childhood happenings have on her later life. This story is one of the best modern horror stories I've read this year.
- Sounding Brass Tinkling Cymbal is a brilliant piece of strange fiction. It tells of a boy who gets to choose his own tongue.
- A Joke in Four Panels is an interesting short story. I'm not going to write what it is about, but I'll mention that readers who are familiar with The Peanuts comics will probably get the most out of it.
Although I like all the stories in this collection, I have to mention that I consider That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love to be the best of them. I've always liked this kind of weird and unsettling horror stories, so I was very impressed by it. It was so disturbing and well written a story that it truly stood out among the other stories. Based on this story alone I can say that Robert Shearman is an exceptionally good writer of dark fiction and I intend to read more of his dark fiction in the near future.
Peckish is another impressive story, because it was an interesting take on the old Hansel & Gretel fairy tale. It's something a bit different, because the author successfully combines fantasy and horror elements in it. It's a satisfyingly macabre, delightfully twisted and well written fairy tale for adults.
I've been fascinated by speculative fiction for a long time, because in my opinion it gives authors much more freedom to explore different - and especially difficult - themes and issues than mainstream fiction. They Do the Same Things Different There is an excellent example of how speculative fiction is a good tool to explore different themes, because the author explores several different themes and he does it well. No matter how odd the story is, he writes about the happenings in a bold and fluent way.
Robert Shearman writes surprisingly well and fluently about families, family members, children, wives, husbands and relationships between siblings etc. He has an ability to evoke emotional responses in the reader by writing about what happens to the characters, what they do to each other and how they interact with each other.
Some of the things that happen in these stories aren't pretty, but there's no need for the author to sugarcoat the happenings, because a bit of roughness makes the stories interesting and enhances the atmosphere in a wonderful way. I liked it very much that the author wasn't afraid of writing about unsettling things when necessary. That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love is a perfect example of the author's ability to create an unsettling and unforgettable atmosphere (I think that it will quite difficult for readers to forget this story).
I recently read Helen Marshall's Gifts for the One Who Comes After, which was also published by ChiZine Publications. The stories in this collection reminded me a bit of Helen Marshall's stories, because there were similar kind of elements in them. I think that readers who have read Helen Marshall and like her stories will be delighted to read this collection. These stories also reminded me a bit of the stories written by J. R. Hamantaschen.
After reading this collection I can say that Robert Shearman is an author who clearly deserves more attention and should gain a larger readership. His stories are a unique combination of good prose, fantastical happenings and imaginative storytelling, so all who enjoy reading this kind of fiction should take a look at this collection. If you've never read anything like this before, don't be afraid to give this collection a chance to impress you, because you may find yourself fascinated by these quirky new weirdish stories.
If you enjoy reading weird and well written stories, I can highly recommend Robert Shearman's They Do the Same Things Different There, because it's a unique and mesmerizing collection of new weirdish speculative fiction.
Highly recommended to readers who want to read something out of the ordinary!
This book is not for someone looking for an ordinary, run of the mill read. These stories will shock you and then make you think. They are intellectually provocative because of the surrealistic treatment of institutions such as family and marriage. Very well done, with an occasional whiff of ironic humor
Vivid descriptions help place characters and settings into rather surreal worlds and/or situations.
Characters vary from likeable to despicable, realistic to bizarre.
Overall, an interesting read.