Saturday, October 25, 2014

R.I.P. Deal Me In Lite: Stories by China Mieville and Stephen Mark Rainey

Deal Me In Lite, R.I.P. edition, Week 8:
"Reports of Certain Events in London" by China Mieville
"Orchestra" by Stephen Mark Rainey

Here we are at the end of Week 8 of my special R.I.P. edition of Deal Me In Lite, and I am reading two stories again. The Mieville story comes from my McSweeney's anthology, and the Rainey story comes from the October Dreams anthology:

"Reports of Certain Events in London" by China Mieville:
I did not like this story as much as I thought I would. The premise is interesting but it's just too weird and I think it loses something trying to be so weird. Here's the premise: the author mistakenly receives a packet of documents in the mail, addressed to a Charles Melville. The documents are quite mysterious, and the bulk of the story consists of the text of the documents. They concern the members of a secret society whose function is to track and document sightings of "feral streets" -- streets from particular cities that suddenly show up in other cities, complete with their houses and everything. And it seems that these streets fight each other, and damage each other's buildings. The author put a lot of thought and creativity into the "reports," but unfortunately, they read like reports, and the "story" overall is dry and weird enough to be uninteresting to me. I can't recommend it.

"Orchestra" by Stephen Mark Rainey
This story was quite a bit better. The main character, Jacob Kravitz, is a feisty little Jewish man (his ethnicity turns out to be important for the story) who is the concertmaster for a community orchestra. The members of the orchestra are in a tizzy because their annual Halloween concert is coming up and the orchestra's conductor has gone missing. Luckily (or not, as it turns out), a man named John Hanger shows up and volunteers his services as conductor. Skeptical, Kravitz agrees to let him audition by conducting their next rehearsal, and the orchestra members are astounded by his incredible talent as a conductor, and the beautiful music he manages to extract from what is essentially an amateur orchestra. Hanger is hired as a replacement conductor, and the performance night eventually comes and is a huge success. After the concert, Hanger invites Kravitz to his apartment for a celebratory drink, and we finally find out the details about this mysterious man who, of course, has a hidden agenda. He is truly a conductor, but as the story races to its climax, we realize he makes a different kind of evil music with the souls of humans like Kravitz. As usual, I don't want to give the ending away because you really need to track down this story and read it. Suffice it to say, however, that the story has a chilling ending and is a perfect story for Halloween or any other time of year when you want a good, spooky story.

"Orchestra of the Apocalypse," retrieved from

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