Wednesday, 22 November 2017

'Virtually Famous'

The final story in Imposter Syndrome is by Phil Sloman. It's the tale of a celebrity, a big star whose face is known to millions. He is the subject of a virtual reality 'game' in which people get to live his life. Unfortunately, the internet being what it is, people soon start killing him. In fact he gets killed in ever more bizarre and inventive ways. Then he decides to play the game, and kill himself.  Virtually, of course. Will his long-suffering fixer be able to fix the resulting mess?

'Virtually Famous' is slightly reminiscent of Seventies sci-f of the sort of promoted by Harlan Ellison in his Dangerous Visions anthologies. There's a paranoid feel to it that combines elements of sci-fi, psychological horror, and noir crime fiction. It also - inevitably - holds a dark mirror up to our own era of instant, meaningless celebrity and grotesque self-indulgence. It's an appropriate ending to an anthology that explores so many different aspects of identity, and the ways in which our sense of identity can be undermined.

Imposter Syndrome is a very good read. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the many facets of what is termed horror (or weird) fiction these days. Judging by the contents of this book the field is in fine fettle.

(I received pdf of the book for review.)

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