December 12, 2023

Review: Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror

Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror by Jordan Peele
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I generally like John Joseph Adams' editing work (he's also listed as an editor for this book, in tiny print under Jordan Peele's name), but this anthology is rather uneven. I understand that the intent was not only to present horror stories, but as the title says: Black horror stories, which may focus on a version of horror (i.e. the fallout of slavery and this country's ongoing racism and white supremacy) that is different than the usual. I have no quibble with that, and indeed, that is a major reason I wanted to read this. Unfortunately, many of the stories with these themes are just so-so. A couple of them are downright depressing, ending with death, destruction, and no hope. Which is to be expected in a horror anthology, but it doesn't make those particular stories any more pleasant to read.

However, there is one story--the very last one in the anthology--which is worth the price of admission all by itself. This is "Origin Story," by Tochi Onyebuchi. This story will hit you like a gut punch. It's written as a short play (and I would love to see it staged as such) with four speaking characters, White Boys #1-4, going through a whole litany of appalling white entitlement and the raw emotions accompanying it. It's scary and disgusting and so, so applicable to the USA, especially giving this country's growing racism and anti-semitism. This story will go on my list of the best stories of the year.

Otherwise, I think this anthology is worth reading just to get the perspectives of many of today's Black speculative fiction writers. But do not miss "Origin Story."

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