CONE ZERO (NEMONYMOUS EIGHT)
The eighth installment of the Nemonymous anthology series, consisting of short fiction by various authors whose names are listed on the back cover, though not in same order as the stories. CONE ZERO’S contributors are Neil James Hudson, Colleen Anderson, Jeff Holland, John Grant, A.J. Kirby, Eric Schaller, Kek-W, S.D. Tullis, Stephen Bacon, Sean Parker, Dominy Clements, Bob Lock, Grant Wamack and David M. Fitzpatrick. As in the previous installments we won’t learn who wrote what until the succeeding volume (for the record, the final page of the present book reveals who penned the stories of the last one, 2007’s ZENCORE).
Not having read any of the other Nemonymous anthologies, I was unsure what to expect. That, it turns out, was an ideal state of mind in which to approach this book, as unexpected is the operative word: the stories range from horror to sci fi to who-knows-what. As in most anthologies the contents are fairly uneven, but overall I enjoyed CONE ZERO immensely.
Varied though the 14 stories are, all were conceived around the words Cone Zero, which can mean any number of things. In “Cone Zero, Sphere Zero” we enter a futuristic civilization structured as a giant cone, with sinister “Enforcers” stationed throughout to ensure that nobody tries to discover what’s beyond the cone’s summit. In “The Point of Oswald Masters” Cone Zone refers to a series of cone-like installations created by a cranky artist, including one of zero height, zero diameter and zero volume--which is somehow stolen! In “To Let” the concept is more obliquely addressed, via a suspicious vase that appears to have disquieting supernatural properties.
More than You Know” has a Hollywood stuntman discovering that his latest job
entails far more than merely standing in onscreen for a popular action star.
Another movie related tale is “Angel Zero,” a powerfully compelling mystery
involving an ancient piece of film depicting a street scene where a little girl
abruptly appears and then vanishes. It may be the most resonant tale of the
entire collection, a grabber that begins as an avant-garde ghost story and ends
up something else entirely.
Good anthology! I’d like to give the proper authors credit for their achievements, particularly “Angel Zero” and “Going Back for What Got Left Behind” (which, bad dream-like, has remained with me in the days since reading it). But that will have to wait until the next Nemonymous anthology, set to appear in 2009. Until then...