Introduction

Of course, it was almost impossible to limit the selection to just a dozen stories. So, my apologies to Anton, Bruno, Camilla, Carmen, Daisy, Edgar, Ernest, Franz, Italo, Julia, Monty, Nikolai, Ottessa, Thomas, Vladimir, and all the other brilliant writers that on any other day I might have included. But today, these are the ones. I’ve indulged my passion for what is often called the ‘weird’. Although isn’t all fiction, to some greater or lesser degree, inherently weird? To occupy a stranger’s imaginative world, perhaps even long years after they wrote down the story, to read their words on the page and to be led through a labyrinth of their creation, is a peculiar thing, is it not?
 
I am interested in stories that use place – and landscape and nature – almost as a character, certainly as more than mere setting or backdrop. To me, this feels true to life, for our surroundings influence our thoughts and moods, and our beliefs and emotions influence the ways in which we perceive and understand those surroundings. So-called ‘real life’ is integrated with the sites in which it takes place. So, I love the idea that a landscape can function in a story as an extension or projection of the character of the protagonist – an external state reflecting an internal state – as in the shattered landscapes of Eniwetok Island in Ballard’s superb ‘The Terminal Beach’ or the suburban dreamscape of Cheever’s ‘The Swimmer’. 
 
Furthermore, I like hallucinations and the inexplicable. I enjoy narratives that carry me away from the frets and stresses of work and family life and open my mind to new and unknown possibilities. I like metamorphosis and transformation. I don’t look to fiction for answers. I like Robert Smithson’s directive: ‘Establish enigmas, not explanations.’

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