The Autopsy: Best Weird Stories of Michael Shea by S.T. Joshi

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From as early as the 1970s, Michael Shea (1946–2014) distinguished himself as one of the most compelling writers of weird fiction of his generation. Now that his classic story “The Autopsy” has been adapted for television for Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, the time is right for a full-scale assessment of Shea’s work as a writer of tales of terror and the supernatural.

“The Autopsy” is one of several tales that mingles gruesomeness and science fiction. Others include “Polyphemus,” where the members of a spaceship encounter the titanic eye of some unthinkably vast and hostile entity. “The Angel of Death” exhibits the battle of two alien entities as they successively inhabit hapless human beings in their quest for supremacy.

Shea’s sensitivity to the downtrodden is exhibited in such tales as “The Horror on the #33,” “Water of Life,” and “Tollbooth,” populated by homeless people, prostitutes, drug dealers, and other disdained members of society. Shea’s affinity for California is shown in “Fill it with Regular,” “Upscale,” and other tales that bring his native state to life. As a bonus, two unpublished stories are included: “Feeding Spiders,” evoking the work of a writer who adopted California as his home—Ray Bradbury; and “Ghost,” where a vengeful ghost stalks the tough streets of South Boston.

Michael Shea was the author of dozens of novels and tales of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. This volume shows why his vibrant work deserves to live in the hearts and minds of weird fiction devotees.

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