June 20, 2013

Early Birds Beware: a review of Tim Curran's "Worm"

by Tim Curran
DarkFuse (2013)
ISBN 9781937771799

When I was a little kid, bugs grossed me out. I was so squeamish that I can remember my dad having to put the worm on my hook when he'd take me fishing, because I refused to touch the wriggly little s.o.b. (the worm, not my dad). A few years later and I grew out of that, and at twelve saw Tremors for the first time, and thought it was one of the coolest movies ever. Giant, man-eating worms? Oh yeah. Sign me up. So when I got a chance to check out Tim Curran's latest novella, Worm, and the cool cover featuring a giant worm chasing all those puny humans, I was hoping for some good old fashioned giant monster action. But did it deliver?

In a word: yes ... and no.

Pine Street finds itself cut off from the rest of the city when an earthquake strikes, followed quickly by black viscous goo bubbling up through the ground. The odor is foul and it just keeps rising out of the ground until the street is impassable. The residents of Pine Street soon find out that they're not dealing with so much an earthquake as an unholy uprising of some of the foulest and ferocious worms you've ever imagined. They're not gigantic like those Sarlac's or whatever they're called from Return of the Jedi, but they've got teeth--lots of 'em.

The characters aren't terribly memorable, but when so many of them are being killed by the carnivorous worms, and in such increasingly grotesque ways, why bother with character development. Frankly, the most memorable character in the book is Stevie, a half-Pomeranian/half-poodle, which--spoiler alert!--winds up not being much of a foe against the infernal invertebrates. If you're a reader with squeamish tendencies, I'm left to wonder why you would seek out a story about giant worms. Still, if you're one of those thin-skinned readers who detests any animal violence in your reading material, save yourself the time it'll take to write Tim Curran an angry letter about letting the worms kill poor Stevie so early in the book, and just pick up Marley & Me. I'm sure no dogs die in that one.

Anyway, the action in Worm is as unrelenting as it is unapologetic. If you enjoy B-movie fare in all its pulpy goodness, you're gonna like this. If you want something the least bit subtle or contemplative, you're in the wrong neighborhood, pal. And that neighborhood probably has a Pine Street.

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