18 WHEELS OF HORROR edited by Eric Miller (2015 Big Time Books / 258 pp / trade paperback & eBook)
I was a kid in the era of trucker and road movies … Convoy, Cannonball Run … I remember Burt Reynolds and his ‘stache, BJ and his Bear … I remember wishing we could have a CB radio and be all cool … I remember making wild air-honk gestures at passing big-rigs on long road trips, and the glee with which we’d greet each successful blast.
The cover alone is everything it should be, doing what Maximum Overdrive aimed for (and missed by a mile). Gorgeous work, says exactly what it needs to, lets you know exactly what you’re in for. And the stories inside do a great job holding up their end of the bargain.
The book opens with Ray Garton’s taunting, spooky, vengeful “A Dark Road.” If Garton’s ever written a dud, I’ve yet to find it.
Other of my personal faves and stand-outs include:
R.B. Payne’s “Big Water,” in which a weird secret delivery gets weirder and more secret.
“Pursuit,” by Hal Bodner, a deep-skin-crawly piece of paranoia.
The reality-bending sly fun of Tim Chizmar’s “Cargo.”
“Siren,” by Eric Miller, updating an ancient seafaring myth for the land-bound highways.
Meghan Arcuri’s craving-inducing, nicely satisfying “Beyond the Best Seasoning.”
And last but not least, the closing story, the tense and gruesome “Roadkill” by Jeff Seeman, finishing things off with a nice gory splat.
This anthology took me right back. And for those who weren’t around in that era, it’ll take you right there too. Truck stops and CB lingo, the endless rumble of engines and wheels, the perceived romance and wearying lonely truths of the open road, the aspect of unique Americana, it’s all here.
- Christine Morgan