This collection of 19 horror stories, culled from the career of a writer best known for his literary science fiction, explores horror as a product of the human mind by allowing personal, political, and metaphysical obsessions to unleash terrors that beset these characters and by refusing to rely on genre-typical terrors such as serial killers and ancient curses.
The original novella "Black Pockets" depicts a hate so all-consuming that a man makes a bargain to carry out the revenge plot of a dying enemy in order to gain the power to pursue his own victims. In unusual zombie tale, "I Walked with Fidel", Fidel Castro's ideals are slowly betrayed by both Cold War superpowers. And a Kafka-like uneasiness pervades "A Piano Full of Dead Spiders", in which a composer's music actually is the result of spiders walking on piano strings.
Posing as philosophical puzzles, the stories gain emotional power from an attention to character development and the insightful investigation of both private and collective nightmares.