Never Again, edited by Allyson Bird and Joel Lane, Gray Friar Press, RRP£10, 293 pages
A prefatory blast on the moral degradation of racism and its political stooge, fascism, anchors this collection of tales. Never Again gathers 23 stories “in the weird and speculative fiction genres” that are linked by a common outrage against bigotry and a horror of the human nature that allows prejudice to thrive.
A lack of household names and many first outings add some unevenness to the mix. Yet, from a sinister vitriol sparked by public breast-feeding to a paranoid nightmare with dead cats, these short fictions often share a hallucinatory quality appropriate to the genres.
The pulp treatment of a genocidal replacement of black people with androids has a nifty twist but little purchase on the imagination. Elsewhere, Joe Lansdale’s pulse-quickening slice of southern gothic and Nina Allen’s compelling tale of an inherited golem (and its macabre Auschwitz history) give substance to the ugly reality of racism.