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07 June 2012 @ 01:08 pm
Body Enhancements Gone Bad!  

So I just finished reading Zippered Flesh: Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad!, edited by Weldon Burge of Smart Rhino Publications.

Weldon is my friend, critique partner, and fellow member of the Written Remains Writers Guild. He's nice, too - but all of these things are totally irrelevant. You need to check out this book.

Anthologies by small presses can be iffy, but I knew going in that this one would be a high-quality collection. Weldon is a born storyteller; his writing is always compelling and inventive, rendered with equal parts humor and horror. He’s also a fine critic, with an eye for what moves a story.

So I was not surprised to find that all of the writers included in this anthology are good writers, including some award winners and industry favorites. The prose is professional, the stories well-crafted. Each author proves adept at drawing the reader through their particular tale of biotechnological terror.

Overall, Zippered Flesh is an entertaining read. The stories are just long enough to consume one or two in a sitting, in between the demands of normal life. Or, if you’re looking to curl up in bed for an evening of good, old-fashioned macabre pleasure, you could devour the book in one bite. All told it took me a few days.

The selection of stories is well-considered. When you think “body enhancements”, you likely think science fiction, but Zippered Flesh doesn't stop there - the anthology offers everything from steampunk to noir to pulp horror to, yes, sci-fi. There’s even a rowdy pirate story (one of my favorites).

I also appreciate the diversity of tone - some dark and disturbing, some funny, some bizarre - so that the reader is not left in an emotional rut. There’s something for everyone.

That said, I should note that most of the stories in this anthology are not necessarily to my taste. While there is a candy box of styles to choose from, all of the stories do (by design) revolve around a common theme which is, at its heart, horrific. I cut my teeth on horror novels as a young girl (hello Stephen King, I still love you so); however, I am much more into character studies and emotional depth these days than I am into concept and gore.

The stories I liked best in Zippered Flesh are, shall we say, gentler, than the others. I’m thinking of “Comfort” by Charles Colyott, in which an emotionally unstable man deals with the decline of his beloved mother, “Paraphilia” by Lisa Mannetti, in which an amputee balances (no pun intended) the need to make a living and her love for her child, and bizarre and strangely logical “Equilibrium” by John Shirley – though the latter did leave me with a WTF feeling I still can’t shake.

I also adored the sensuality and artistry of Scott Nicholson's story, "The Shaping," even though this one was one of the goriest of them all.

But by and large, the majority of the stories in Zippered Flesh begin with a setup and end with a punch-line – a quick character sketch, a concept, an ironic ending. There are a lot of repeats, too - the mad scientist and his hapless victim, the self-centered client meets amoral surgeon, the bloodthirsty criminal who gets his come-uppins. There’s also a lot of sex. And gore. And gore. And sex. Did I mention sex? Much of this anthology is, in no uncertain terms, gratuitous.

But, hey. There are fans for that, even if I’m not necessarily one. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to any genre addict, so long as I include that caveat. There’s sex. And gore. And body enhancements! LOL. You have been warned.

Listen to a full review of Zippered Flesh by Meli Hooker and Jason Darrick of Dreadful Tales Here

Zippered Flesh can be purchased through Amazon.com Here
Weldon Burgeweldonburge on June 8th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
ZIppered Flesh: Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad!
Thanks for the fair and gracious review! Hope you'll enjoy the next Smart Rhino book, Uncommon Assassins, even more--I think it may be more to your liking.
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"ladytairngire on June 9th, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
Re: ZIppered Flesh: Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad!
My pleasure, Weldon! It was a thrill to read it and review it for you.
Elliott CaponElliott Capon on June 9th, 2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
One of your favorite stories in ZF
I wrote the rowdy pirate story in ZF that you liked so much. Let me say how absolutely gratified I am--it's always wonderful to craft a tale and have someone who is not relected in your mirror think that it's a good piece of writing! And of course, I cannot fail to tip my hat to Weldon (hmm, remind me to get a hat) who's delicate editorial touches made a good story better.
Thanks for liking what I do!

---elliott capon
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"ladytairngire on June 9th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
Re: One of your favorite stories in ZF
Hi Elliot!

I have to admit, when I started reading it I thought, "Really? Pirates?" but it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable. I think you did a fantastic job developing your Captain's character. Also, the violence in your story was almost... giddy... fun, really, so I did feel assaulted with it so much as entertained.

Though - tsk - that poor slave woman.

Weldon is sharp. He's made many excellent points regarding my own writing.
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"ladytairngire on June 9th, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
Re: One of your favorite stories in ZF
* did NOT feel assaulted, rather.