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Book Review

Book Cover

The Sleep Corporation
The Collected Short Stories of Douglas Thompson


Author: Douglas Thompson
Publisher: The Exaggerated Press
ISBN: 978 1 326 44480 8
Publication Date: 14 October 2015

The Sleep Corporation: The Collected Short Stories of Douglas Thompson (2015. 288 pages) finally brings together Thompson’s short stories in one volume. They may have been previously published in disparate media, but now is your chance to find them all huddled together betwixt a book cover of Thompson’s own design.

I lay my critical bones upon the table, an admission that I have waxed lyrical about Thompson in the past and for good reason. Dive into any of the thirty-one stories and you’ll find the peculiar eye of Thompson staring back. It’s an eye that sees both magic and horror in everyday objects; whether it’s a book, a bicycle, a box or a pair of lovers and usually these two and many more elements are simultaneously present creating a cognitive dissonance. The stories are highly effective, even if the reader is unsure what they should feel above a general awareness of being unsettled and challenged.

It would not be fair to say that the collection defies singular genre definition. The subject matter ranges from whimsy to the macabre, but always with the noticeable touch of Thompson’s pen. I personally like to read stories from someone who has a good grasp of language and Thompson certainly demonstrates this with sentences which have a poetical quality to their construction. Whatever the subject matter the construction is always pure Thompson, the quality is universally high and his singular voice is always crystal clear.

The full list of the stories are:-

Raymond and Arlene
Fallen Woman
Moving Vehicle
Central Station
World War Three Remembered
On Garnet Hill
Moon Shot
The Topography of City Parks
The Bicycle
Alva's Island
Pandora's Box
The Flowers of Uncertainty
The Key to Harry
Sylvia, Dumped by Her Boyfriend
Sunday Relatives
Madame Mannequin
The Enlightened Heart
The Pleasures of Television
Stations Are How Towns Dream
The Mystical Wardrobe
Fugitive Dreams of the Enslaved
Death Trains of Durdensk
My Lost Sister
The Sleep Corporation

The subject matter ranges from doomed and decaying relationships to science fiction flights of fantasy and a lot of stories in-between which resist being pigeonholed.

Thompson has had a number of novels published and I can recommend them all, springing as they do from one of the most original voices in modern speculative fiction.


Charles Packer

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