Edited by Daniel Lewis, Lev Parikian and Tom Singleton
302 pages, YouWriteOn
Review by Melissa Conway
I was intrigued but nervous about reading this anthology (free review copy). I know one of the contributing writers (Booksquawk’s very own Marc Nash), but I’m no expert on Pop Fiction—not by a long shot. And although I like music at least as much as the next person, I’m one of those people who prefer silence when reading or driving or walking (and especially when writing). Music tends to get under my skin and provoke emotions and memories that cloud my thinking or send it off in a direction not of my choosing.
The introduction by editor Daniel Lewis explains that each contributor to Pop Fiction: Stories Inspired by Songs has written two tales, one inspired by David Bowie’s ‘Heroes,’ and another of their own choosing. I couldn’t recall having heard Heroes, so I looked it up. Come to realize I had never heard it, which put a damper on things until I Googled the lyrics so I’d have some frame of reference. (To reiterate: I did admit to being a Pop Fiction ignoramus.)
I began reading without having seen the table of contents, which lists the song that inspired it. At the end of the first story, I exclaimed to my husband, ‘I Shot the Sheriff!’ He gave me a strange look, but after that, I thought it would be fun to read all the stories without peeking at their inspiration to see if I could figure it out myself. Turns out that first story was the only one I figured out, aside from a few that were obviously Heroes stories.
The stories within are of mixed genres, from literary to horror to science fiction. Some are dark, some humorous, some twisted. I liked them all, but the ones that stuck with me are listed below:
Cut and Run by Karen Snape-Williams
A lawless drifter dreams of redemption just as the sheriff doesn’t quite catch up to him, but rather stumbles upon him.
The Canadian also by Karen Snape-Williams
In war-torn England a young woman trapped in a loveless marriage finds solace in her beloved country home, and in the arms of a Canadian bomber pilot.
Watanabe’s Honor by Tom Singleton
Touching tale of a Japanese fighter pilot striving to regain his honor after a botched mission illustrates the age-old adage ‘two sides to every coin.’
Interception also by Tom Singleton
A thriller reminiscent of Tom Clancy about a commercial flight passenger so controversial that one government risks everything attempting to down the plane.
The Other Side by Lee Williams
After saving a boy from a gang and suffering their retribution, a security guard on an old estate reads a turn-of-the-century journal and begins to see ghosts.
Hotel C.N.S. by Marc Nash
Haunting stream-of-consciousness narrative from the crumbling mind of a blindfolded hostage.
I should mention that not only is this an eminently readable anthology, but a portion of the sales proceeds will go to the Blue Lamp Foundation, which raises money to aid British emergency services personnel criminally injured while on duty.