I read the nine stories that comprise Mike Duran’s Subterranea and I stepped into the Twilight Zone. Nine times.
Duran blogs at deCompose, and is a regular contributor to Novel Rocket, a site for fiction writers (of all genres, but mostly Christian). He also regularly challenges the sacred cattle of the Christian writing and publishing world.
He writes what’s called speculative fiction. His writing reminds me of T.L. Hines, who wrote in a genre dubbed “noir bizarre.” (Hines published five remarkable novels between 2007 and 2010 and nothing since then.) Duran isn’t “noir bizarre,” but he’s occasionally noir with a dash of bizarre (or perhaps vice versa).
Nine gripping stories, all dealing with underground themes.
A man is interrogated about what happened during a subway dig, during which several men were killed in an explosion. Without explanation, a man leaves his front porch and is later found floating in a pool. A group of college students set out to Mexico to disprove the existence of a mythological story. A bar scene that seems straight out the intergalactic Cantina in the first Star Wars movie (1977). Six men die because of a woman. A man recovers, or maybe not, from a horrific automobile accident. Demons chase muses to stop the creative impulse. An overweight man has to be removed from an apartment building. A priest projects compatibility of couples seeking to get married, usually ending with the couples deciding to go their separate ways.
What Duran plumbs here is the “subterranea” of the human mind and heart. He’s using a speculative, almost Twilight Zone approach in much the same way the old Rod Serling television program did. The stories force you, through odd and unexpected circumstances, to consider motives and actions. The people see familiar; their surroundings do not. And it’s that juxtaposition of familiar and strange that provide glimpses into the human soul.
It’s not a pretty sight. But it’s a true one.
That’s what strikes me most about these stories – they read true. Duran knows his subject, and knows it well.
My review of Mike Duran’s The Resurrection.
Photograph by Marina Shemesh via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.
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