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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Hanged Man - Orson Scott Card

The Hanged Man is a collection of eleven stories in the horror genre by Orson Scott Card.

I first began reading horror in elementary school when I read collections that contained stories like The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs and The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. From time to time I attempt a full-length horror novel without the same sense of satisfaction. There's just something about short stories that seem to express the dread in just the right way for me.

One of the neat things about anthologies, whether the stories contained within are from multiple authors or a single author, is that each person can normally find at least one that sticks out to them personally.

In "Fat Farm" a man goes to a medical facility after years of abusing his body to get cloned and live in a new one. The man thinks he's going to live comfortably in the facility, while his clone goes out to continue living his hedonistic life; however, he discovers that the bargain doesn't work out the way he expected. In the end, the man takes on a different perspective on his body than when he started. I think many people may relate to this tale and Card's commentary on the story in the author's afterward is enlightening to his own experience battling weight.

The "Sepulchre of Songs" is told from the point of view of a psychologist who goes to a home once a week to visit a parapalegic young woman. When the rain lasts for more than a week, she begins losing her mind. She tells him about a woman who is teaching her songs to pilot a ship in outer space. For me, this was a fascinating exploration of escapism, while for Card the story is much more personal.

There were only two I didn't particularly care for: "Closing the Timelid" and "Freeway Games". Listening to the author's explanation in the afterward gave me a different feel for each of them, though.

"Closing the Timelid" is about a group of people who decide to use time travel to experience death without actually dying. According to the author it's supposed to be about hedonism. "Freeway Games" is about a man who follows people on the highway, putting them into a panic and causing their deaths. Card states the original version was meant to be humorous, but his wife told him it was "horrible" and he ended up rewriting it with that tone. In both cases, I felt like I just didn't 'get it'.

Other stories in this anthology include: "Eumenides in the Fourth Floor Lavatory", "Quietus", "Deep Breathing Exercises", "Prior Restraint", "The Changed Man and the King of Words", "Memories of My Head", and "Lost Boys"

Recommended works by this author:
Ender's Game
Songmaster

Recommended Reads:
Ten Great Mysteries Edgar Allen Poe

Recommended Viewing:
The Twilight Zone

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