The Clockworm and Other Strange Stories
*Publishers Weekly *Starred Review* The 19 effervescent fantasy stories in Heuler's fourth collection (after 2017's In Search of Lost Time) sparkle with wit and imagination. In the title tale, mechanical worms infest time, wreaking havoc that causes the scientists exploring them to age prematurely. "The Lovely Kisselthwist" tells of an insectlike creature whose airborne eggs rampantly catalyze amorous attraction between those exposed to them, between people and inanimate objects, and eventually between heavenly bodies. Though the tone of most of these tales is light and breezy, Heuler invests them with serious subtexts that counter their often comically absurd premises: in "Alien Corn," invading extraterrestrials slowly take over the planet by catering to humanity's fondness for distractions from serious issues; "Egg Island" concerns an evolutionary leap by which humankind and animals slowly begin to incorporate polluting plastic waste into their organic bodies; "Here and There" is a beautifully poignant tale in which society's dismissal of the impossibly complex bridges a young girl constructs in the confines of her miniscule backyard highlights the status quo's undervaluing of ingenuity. Heuler's voice is refreshingly original, and readers will find these stories remarkably inventive and brimming with ideas not found anywhere else in contemporary fantasy fiction.
Life unfolds in strange ways. You may encounter people from your past living in your former apartments, or find you have a penis as you engage in war-dreams, or find a planet filled with ghosts that look exactly like the ghosts back home. Is it possible they are the same as the ghosts back home? Wherever you travel, there are tough decisions to make about the aliens you may have harmed and the aliens who may harm you. Other Places, Karen Heuler's latest story collection, follows travelers as the familiar becomes strange, and the strange becomes life.
The Inner City
"One of the Best Books of 2013"--Publishers Weekly
*Starred Review" Heuler’s stories dart out at what the world is doing and centre on how the individual copes with it. Anything is possible: people breed dogs with humans to create a servant class; beneath one great city lies another city, running it surreptitiously. An employee finds that her hair has been stolen by someone intent on getting her job; strange fish fall from trees and birds talk too much; a boy tries to figure out what he can get when the Rapture leaves good stuff behind. Everything is familiar; everything is different. Behind it all, is there some strange kind of design or merely just the chance to adapt? In Heuler’s
stories, characters cope with the strange without thinking it’s strange, sometimes invested in what’s going on, sometimes trapped by it, but always finding their own way in.
The Other Door
"Haunting and quirky"
Marvelously crafted, slyly sidestepping the reader's expectations, the characters in Karen Heuler's The Other Door respond to the unexpected events in their lives, accepting and then rising to the challenges, no matter how strange. For them, reality requires invention.
In "The Second Coming," the Virgin Mary steps down from her backyard visitations to join the new incarnation of Christ. In "Like a Piston, Like a Flame" a dancer finds a new way to perform after a freak accident destroys her legs, but not her will. The title story, "The Other Door," presents a woman who finds a long- forgotten door in her apartment and upon opening it is led from one surprise to another.
Although many of the stories in The Other Door have qualities reminiscent of traditional fables, they are perhaps more fabulous than fabular. They are contemporary folktales, at times venturing into fantasy while retaining the details of everyday experience and psychological authenticity. As in the best folktales and fables, symbols and suggestions come to life and are often linked to the powers of imagination and memory as a means of reconciling the characters to cycles of life and death.
The Other Door marks the arrival of a writer whose vision is radical, dislocating, and enthralling. --The New York Times