Friday, March 30, 2007

Don Webb's Letters from Doublesign

"Don Webb is a genius. He's not widely appreciated. There are some things mankind was not meant to know." -- Bruce Sterling.

One of our genre's great achievements in recent years has been the successful infiltration of the mainstream with a fresh infusion of winking fabulism — explorations of *everyday magic* lurking in the suburban American psychoscape — neighborhood zombies, television programs that invade reality, flea market talismans. Horror tropes repainted with anime eyes in a literary variation of pop surrealism that subtly flags the signposts of contemporary middle-class consciousness, documenting the obliteration of the barriers between reality and imagination.

Then there's Don Webb. Old school slipstream with a stiffer proof, practiced by an actual Magus. They grow their fabulists differently in Amarillo. Maybe it's the nuclear effluent in the water.

Don Webb has been floating clandestine balloons of eldritch literature (mostly in short form -- hundreds of them) since the 1980s. These tiny wonders are beautiful terrors that occupy some unlit zone between Lovecraft and Nabokov. The stories have Don's hypnotic voice, the one he uses to set off flares in the minds of his writing students, a voice that knows how to turn words into spells. They sneak up on you, burrow in behind your pineal gland, and don't leave.

Don Webb is the Left Hand Paul Harvey, broadcasting secret messages to you on an AM wavelength that's not supposed to be there any more.

So go buy the May issue of FSF, turn to p. 108, read "The Great White Bed," and see if you don't agree. Then go buy the new collection When They Came, and wait for the apparition on the cover to start illuminating your dreams.

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