Tim Lebbon,
Fears Unnamed
(Leisure, 2004)

Fears Unnamed is a collection of four longer stories by Tim Lebbon, one of which appears here for the first time.

In "Remnants," the new story, an archaeologist is convinced he has located a lost city of the dead beneath the Ethiopian desert. He's not simply interested in finding ruins and artifacts, however. This story ends without a satisfying resolution, and it was my least favorite of the lot.

"White," the first of two end-of-the-world stories in this volume, concerns a handful of people stranded in a remote manor on the coast of Britain. The Earth has suffered a threefold apocalypse -- plague is rampant, human society has all but collapsed and it won't stop snowing. And now there's something out there in the blizzard that is picking them off one by one.

"The Unfortunate" is the sole survivor of an airplane disaster who finds that his luck is not a gift but a terrible curse. I had already read this in a different anthology, but I didn't mind reading it again. It is one of the more frightening stories that I have read anywhere.

In "Naming of Parts," a family desperately makes its way across the English countryside to be reunited with an estranged daughter after most everyone else has succumbed to a disease that has turned them into zombies.

In at least two of the stories, Lebbon turns what might be the stuff of B-movies into something much more by making it about the characters as much as (if not more than) their situation. When one of the protagonists is forced to take the only escape available to her, you really feel it. This is a worthwhile collection overall, but in my opinion only the second and third stories are exceptional. If you're able to spend a bit more, I'd suggest picking up White & Other Tales of Ruin and As the Sun Goes Down, both published by NightShade Books, and which contain "White" and "The Unfortunate," respectively.

review by
Scott Promish

29 March 2008

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