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R. Thomas Riley

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The Monster Within Idea
by R. Thomas Riley   

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Publisher:  Apex ISBN-10:  0982159617 Type: 


Copyright:  Feb 16, 2009 ISBN-13:  9780982159613

The monsters lurk in everyone: monsters of greed, of guilt, of the pleasure found in pain, of the pain found when pleasure dies. Carefully disguised, the monsters can sit down beside you or take up residence within you at the slightest twist of fate. Will you try to stop them? Will you want to?

Apex Book Company

This collection of 18 stories from R. Thomas Riley deftly explores the monsters born of the human mind. “Attrition” offers a future prison system that frees only those who repent sincerely—but what can an inmate do if he finds that sincerity is not really the key? “Twin Thieves” and “Tautology” throw a devilish spin on relationships gone wrong, while “The Lesser Evil” twists the abuses of race and power into a gritty, noirish nightmare of the choices a man must make to protect a lesser man and a greater good. In “Touching God,” a young man’s past catches up to him when worlds bleed into each other and the past crosses into present, bringing back the abuse he once escaped and the brother who wasn’t so lucky.

Sacrifice, selfishness, and the worst of good intentions: all combine in The Monster Within Idea. From vampires and aliens to hit women and Wild Bill Hickock, Riley gives a subtle psychological turn to dark science fiction and horror. Let the monsters walk the paths of your mind. The idea is already within.

Professional Reviews

Death comes in many forms. Sometimes it's in-your-face, “holy shit!” realization. Other times it sidles up to you in red lipstick and a pink thong.”

How's that shit for the start of a story, eh? And that is precisely how R.Thomas Riley kicks the door in on “Just Decoration,” one of the best stories in this collection. Monofilament sharp, witty, it has a marvelously developed sense of irony and cruelty, and he gets it all done in about six pages. That's how this dude gets it done when he is on his game and that is largely the case with this collection of his short stories.

But... let's take a step backwards.

From the moment that I saw the title, I was interested here. Simple, yet evocative of an exploration of the beast behind the mask of civilization. Then you add in the stark, haunting cover that seems to suggest that the “monster” within may actually be the innocence that we try so hard to hide away in our quest to appear aloof and unperturbed in this world of horrors and man's inhumanity to man (that's right, revel in the cliche). Maybe I'm reading too much into a cover, Nyarlathotep knows I spent too damn much time with my head up my ass getting a degree in English Lit., but that is what I was thinking before I even got a chance to look at the first page.

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Jennifer Brozek
I am of two minds about this anthology, "The Monster Within Idea," edited by R. Thomas Riley, from Apex Publications. On one hand, I really liked it. On the other hand, it really frustrated me. The good stories, like "Touching God," "Jenny," "Haven," "The Run," "Bubo" and "Brittle Bones, Plastic Skin" are really excellent stories. Creepy, visceral and evocative stories than make you grin while your skin puckers in goose bumps. They lead you to the edge of the precipice and then drop you over to a satisfying conclusion--be it a sudden crash at the end or the revelation of wings.

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R. Thomas Riley

The Monster Within Idea

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