Book Review ~ Glory and Splendour: TALES OF THE WEIRD by Alex Miles
Let me start with this: Alex Miles is incredibly gifted and talented. He’s a wordsmith. A craftsman. A writer.
This entertaining compilation contains six stories that run the gamut of Gothic horror, science fiction, and dystopian society. An impressive debut, Miles’ voice is so strong it often rivals the early works of Clive Barker—he’s that good.
The first story, “Glory & Splendour,” is a disturbing tale of a world succumbing rapidly to decay. It is a deeply moving piece, of how we blind ourselves with distractions to the real dangers of our own crumbling world. Told in the first person, the protagonist has been forced into seclusion in his home, unable and unwilling to venture out into the chaos that envelops him. A mysterious stranger comes to the door, offering curious magic that can conceal the vileness of the outside world, and as civilization continues to decay, so too does the sanctuary of home, leading us to a gripping and telling conclusion.
“The Judge” is an instant classic. Society has been reduced to non-thinkers, putting law and discipline into the mechanical hands of a gigantic machine built a century before. The machine—a subterranean clockwork of cogs and wheels–rules without question; trials and punishment are meted out with nothing more than a printed receipt stating that judgment has been served. The story is rich and powerful, warning of the dangers of a technological society placing blind faith in its inventiveness—a wakeup call to us all.
“Deep Stitches” gives us insight into the human psyche, in particular, the black thoughts that at some level drive us all. Miles digs deep here, questioning our values and judgments we place upon one another. We are as a whole good and decent, and yet we wear masks, concealing our darker side. In a clever story of role reversal, “Deep Stitches” delivers a wonderful read.
Changing gears dramatically, Miles’ “Hitting Targets” strikes all the right notes with its cutting black humour. It tells the story a lot of us can relate to, featuring a life‑weary real estate agent overcome with the banality of the everyday—the drudgery of work and a loveless, unfulfilling marriage. Reminding us that there’s hope somewhere along the line, “Hitting Targets” will appeal to every soul who has wondered, Is this all there is?
The last two stories, “Life Beggar” and “The Lotus Device,” speak to our desire for happiness and how we should cherish what we have right now. They are dark and brooding and thought-provoking.
Glory and Splendour is a unique collection that is both chilling and fun to read. Highly recommended.