Short-form horror has always held a special place in my heart. Perhaps it's something about the way it needs to be economical and not fill in all the details, creating a greater sense of the unknown. Maybe it's just my short attention span. Here are 2 collections and 3 short stories/novellas that make my list of "most memorably enjoyable."
Grimscribe, His Lives and Works, by Thomas Ligotti
I'm going to be an annoying hipster and point out that I loved reading Ligotti long before he was cribbed by True Detective. I first came across this collection of short stories in the library, drawn by the kickass death's head on its cover. As a writer, I'm very plot and character driven, so perhaps it's envy of a skill that I don't have that always draws me to the mood and atmosphere of horror beautifully constructed from words. That's what Ligotti does to perfection.
Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer, by Tanith Lee
As with Ligotti, Tanith Lee has always won me over with style, even though the plots and characters from her stories are vividly drawn. This themed collection draws on age-old fairy tales, then warps them with unexpected and often horrific twists. There is a lyrical quality to Lee's writing that serves the subject matter well. Quite memorably, the title story retells the tale of Snow White where the Queen is protagonist with a wicked stepdaughter.
"Ro Erg," by Robert Weinberg
This was a short story I happened upon in the collection Dark Love. After reading tons of short fiction, they all have a tendency to blend together in my mind, even the good ones. Not "Ro Erg." The way it builds gradually mounting mayhem from an innocuous mistake by a credit card company is hilarious, brilliant and wicked.
"Sandkings," by George R.R. Martin
Hipster me here again. Before Sean Bean's decapitation was even a glint in his eye, Martin was an award winning sci-fi author. Sandkings, while sci-fi on its surface, hits all the same narrative and emotional beats as classic horror stories. Here, the horror stems not so much from the titular creatures, so much as what having godlike powers over these creatures can do to people.
"Than Curse the Darkness," by David Drake
There were many painful omissions to this list, many of them works that might be described as Lovecraftian. I remember this story more than most because of its turn on the very idea of Lovecraftian horror. Set in Congo during the Belgian colonial era, the story pointedly contrasts supernatural horror with all too real horror from history. It also serves as a meta-commentary on some of Lovecraft's own unsavoury views.
Darius Jung's story "Demon in Diapers" is featured in When Glints Collide: A Collection of Science Fiction, Horror, and Oddities.
Darius Jung lives in Toronto, Canada, but is lucky enough to spend regular amounts of time in New Zealand. During the days he works in IT consulting under a different name, and at night, he writes horror, fantasy and historical fiction. Over the years, he's dabbled in various careers as an industrial engineer, a script supervisor for movies, a woefully unqualified business wear model and a game show contestant. In between all of that, he's squeezed in time to get married and have two children, one of which may or may not be a demon baby.
"Demon in Diapers" is his first published work.
Darius's first novel, a YA historical fiction, Sparrow Squadron, is due to be released early next year. It follows the story of a female fighter pilot in the Soviet Union during World War II.
Darius is an avid student of history and loves to include aspects of history in his writing. He blogs about historical fiction and non-fiction and the impact of books through history.