Nemonymous 5, edited by D.F. Lewis

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"The Robot & The Octopus"
"Driving in Circles"
"Running Away to Join the Town"
"Solid Gold"
"George the Baker"
"The Hills Are Alive"
"Huntin’ Season"
"Well Tempered"
"The Scariest Story I Know"
"New Science"
"Soul Stains"
"Grandma’s Two Watches"
Here’s a somewhat belated review (sorry, Des.) The delay was due to the difficulty of reviewing such a novel publication, where all stories appear without the bylines, denying the reader comforting signposts of familiar names. This is truly something unique and special, and I am disappointed to hear that Nemonymous will cease publication.

"Robot and an Octopus" is a fun little tale, and a wonderful beginning for the anthology. Escaped nanotechnology, in the form of an ostentatious robot who for some reason drags about a tank with an octopus in it, wreaks havoc. Even though the ending is predictable, the story is no less enjoyable.

"Driving in Circles" is about exactly that—a quarreling couple gets lost during their drive, and as the darkness descends, they travel through increasingly strange landscape. The ambiguous ending struck me as a bit Sixth Sense, but the wonderful prose and painfully human protagonists more than make up for it.

"Running Away to Join the Town" is the absolute gem of this issue. A dark, brooding tale of a spoiled child who goes to see the circus and a little clown who is looking to abandon the nomadic life lingers for a long time. I especially enjoyed the combination of the very dark atmosphere with peculiar sweetness that reminded me a bit of "Black Static" by Paul Meloy.

"Solid Gold" was a bit less impressive than the previous three tales. It is a story of a woman who enjoys luxury, but then, for no visible reason, drags inside a dirty old engine. I can understand the urge to mar the perfect life she built for herself, but the protagonist appears so shallow that her actions seemed inconsistent.

"George the Baker" is a very strange story, but it is quite appealing, despite its lack of resolution. George (the baker) finds a strange creature—little more than a breathing, perspiring ball of flesh—and brings it to the bakery, where he attempts to figure out what it is. I quite enjoyed the style of this story, along with the loving description of the inscrutable creature.

"The Hills Are Alive" is a well-written story, but it didn’t quite work for me.  I could not connect with the protagonist, his frustrated wife, or the mysterious woman who he meets during a walk. The woman is an artist, and she paints the house of the protagonist. The story is told in a measured voice, which is quite well-done; however, it created a distance between the story and the reader, and I found this lack of connection difficult to overcome.

"Huntin’ Season" is a tale of two men who alternately escape from, and hunt, gangs of vicious babies. This story left me a bit puzzled—judging author’s intent is always risky, but I’ll venture a guess that it was written for shock value, simply because I don’t see any other purpose in it. As such, it fails.  It is not very shocking, although somewhat disgusting.
"Well Tempered" is a creepy little tale that plays on words, musical instruments, and children. It is understated and chilling. I don’t want to give any more away, but please read it—it is worth it.
"The Scariest Story I Know" provides an interesting twist on a ghost story. Three family members—a mother, a father, and a son—are separated by death. However, none of them is sure who is dead and who is pining in the empty house. A very well done, disturbing tale. The author did a wonderful job creating a sense of unreality that saturates this piece.

"New Science" is another disturbing but poignant story. Ben, the protagonist, visits Jayne (an old friend) who is dying. Ben meets Jayne to fulfill her last request, of sorts, and the climax of the story is moving. This piece is one of my favorites, because the relationship between Jayne and Ben is depicted without glossing over the terrible effects of cancer, and yet with sympathy. There is also a keychain with a genuinely creepy doll, who may or may not be responsible for Jayne’s illness.
"Soul Stains" is another well-written story that lacked an emotional punch. It is a fantasy tale, taking place in a rich, beautifully drawn semi-medieval milieu, and it deals with the fate of the tattoo artist whose enormous talent was mistaken for witchcraft. After his death at the hands of the townspeople, his creations start coming to life. This is an imaginative story, and the language is luxurious, at times bordering on overwritten.
"Grandma’s Two Watches" takes place in a kibbutz, and is told from the point of view of a young man whose grandmother always wears two watches, set to two different times. The mystery of the watches is soon eclipsed by the arrival of a UFO. Of course, the two events are connected. It is an enjoyable although predictable tale. The best part of it is the relationship between the grandmother and her grandson.

Overall, I found this issue of Nemo well worth a read. Compared to the earlier issues of the same publication, it seemed less wild and unpredictable, more settled into its voice—but still unique. I was pleased to see that Nemo’s editor keeps finding different and artful stories. All Nemo anthologies can be bought from Project Pulp, and I recommend getting all of them and reading them in sequence. And if you can, try not to look up the authors’ names n advance. Reading these stories blind is a novel and exhilarating experience.

Available through Project Pulp
Price: $5.49
Paperback: 78 pages

[Editor’s Note: As the authors of Nemonymous #5 will not be "denemonised" in a subsequent issue, the editor has revealed their identities in the Nemonymous topic of the Night Shade Books discussion forum.]