Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Brink by Austin Bunn

Stories about people at a turning point

In the world of “The Brink,” diverse characters across history discover themselves embroiled in spectacular predicaments. From nuclear war to the sex lives of the disfigured to a conquistador’s ship at the edge of the world to a group of cultists preparing for their imminent exit on the Hale Bopp Comet, the main characters wrestle with a profoundly changed world. In every story, the prose was pyrotechnic and perfectly calibrated.

I have mixed feelings about this collection. The stories reminded me of Karen Russell’s: technically proficient, and yet, with a coldness at their core. My preference is for something hot. These stories were glib, about possibly tired subjects: The children of divorce. The video game world. Some of them I really enjoyed: The End of the Age is Upon Us: written in a sprightly compound sentences, about one of the residents in San Diego’s Hale Bopp cult. I also loved Ledge, about the explorers in their ship encountering the monstrous end of the world. The display of writerly“chops” was amazing. Also I was totally into “Griefer,” about the end of a virtual world. He breathed life into it.

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