July 23, 2013

This Future Is Not Yet Rated: a review of Jodi Lee's "Into a Long Ago Future"

Into a Long Ago Future
self-published (2012)
120 pages
ISBN: 978-1-926912-69-1

My familiarity with Jodi Lee's work stems primarily from her editing and toiling away in the trenches of the indy publisher, Belfire Press. I've read a couple of her stories in anthologies here and there, but this was my first chance to read a book that was entirely hers.

Into a Long Ago Future is a relatively compact collection of stories, clocking in around 120 pages, featuring several short stories, as well as bits of poetry and flash fiction. Even a piece of super short fiction that must not be any more than a hundred words. It's a pastiche of Jodi's work from 2006 to 2010, including her passion project, New Bedlam, a sleepy little town that would make Twink Peaks look like Disneyland.

Things kick off with a glimpse of New Bedlam in a flash piece called "Down the Street," beautifully written, but too brief to my liking. A change in tone comes next from "Trip 'Em," a story that reads more like a tutorial on how to survive the zombie apocalypse with a less than altruistic approach. "Jogger" comes a little later, this creepy bit of fiction that starts with a couple joggers finding someone's eyeball discarded on the park's path. Gross. "The Legless Ones" had a bit of a fairytale vibe to it, but not any kind you'd find in Disney's vault.

"Ring a Ring a Rosie" was a standout for me, with a nurse working a graveyard shift in New Bedlam's quiet ER only to wind up alone with a decrepit and diseased old woman, and from there things get really weird--and pretty gruesome, too. Some of the meatier visits to New Bedlam come from "On the Road" and the aptly titled "New Bedlam," and then the book finishes off with a novel excerpt set in the ominous little town. I'm not sure if Into the Mirror has been published yet, but the teaser offered here is enough to whet the appetite and I would hope offer a more panoramic perspective of Jodi's creation.

The collection can be considered either a mish-mash or a mosaic of Lee's dark imagination. I'm not sure how effective the book is in introducing the town of New Bedlam to readers, as I think the full-length novel might be the preferable avenue for that--for my bias, anyway. The book, however, does give a good sense at how the dark little machinations in Lee's head crank out some genuinely ghastly tales. Keep an eye on her, 'cause I think it only gets better from here.

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