November 8, 2013 by Laird
I’ve been friends with John Langan for over a decade, so let that serve as full disclosure. The thing of it is, we became fast friends because we admire one another’s writing. John and I made our pro debuts in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction a month or two apart back in 2001. We began to correspond via email and pretty much just bonded.
I loved his first collection, Mr. Gaunt & Other Uneasy Encounters. It’s a great work that did its job in getting him on the map, especially that title novella that pours forth with overtones of MR James and HP Lovecraft. These days, his presence in horror anthologies–originals and year’s bests–is ubiquitous. He has become a must-have, go-to author for editors putting together cutting edge horror and dark fantasy.
The Wide Carnivorous Sky & Other Monstrous Geographies is the culmination of all that celebrated work he’s done the past four or five years. Much as I adored that debut collection, this latter book achieves what so few sophomore efforts ever do–it thoroughly surpasses its predecessor. John is an academic and there’s a demented, albeit surgical, preciseness to the fashion that he dissects classic horror tropes and then reassembles them into some gory jigsaw. In a Langan tale you’ll get vampires and ghouls, werewolves will hunt their prey to earth, and cosmic horrors will unfold origami-style in a cascade effect of stars blowing their fuses.
Satanic fertility cults and war-haunted criminals, crazed lit professors who want to give you the straight dope on Poe, paper balloons from hell…but all of it reimagined, distorted, welded like Scorsese, Lovecraft, and Bergman mutated from a test tube and unleashed upon a hapless world, a tri-headed, fire-breathing destroying angel, twenty stories high and lurching across the plain toward your city with hell in its eyes.
I endorse it heartily.