Tuesday, 21 March 2017

'Outside Interference'

We're back in the ghastly world of modern corporate life. One thing one can't accuse Mark Samuels of avoiding is a unifying theme. Written in Darkness is saying, to coin a phrase, that modern life is rubbish, and fetid rubbish at that. Admittedly he is not presenting any kind of alternative to our interconnected global culture, but it is a not a fiction writer's job to present manifestos. He calls 'em as he sees 'em,

'Outside Interference' is set in a bleak office building somewhere in central/eastern Europe. Not just any old bleak office building, but one being phased out by a crew of soon-to-redundant workers. A viciously cold winter closes in as the hapless crew struggle to shift junk from unheated offices. Things start to go wrong when the lift malfunctions and a member of the team is turned into a kind of zombie (thought the Z-word is never used).

With frantic inevitability attempts to escape or confront the menace that lurks below sub-basement level fail. And then the discarded, the unwanted, the human detritus of modern capitalism, are transformed. The shadows of Ligotti and, arguably, the late Joel Lane fall across this wintry mindscape. I have no idea if the ending is supposed to be downbeat in the strict sense of the word.

In our running review tomorrow a different theme emerges as everyone marches through the factory gates to a stirring rendition of 'Sing As We Go' by Gracie Fields.

No, not really.

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