The full title of this book is A Passport to a Nation of Talking Slugs and Other Stories, but that seemed like too long a title for this blog post. There are four stories in total, and they are all independent, very different in settings and ideas.
A lonely tourist visits a city built by giant slugs. A prisoner contemplates the different kinds of possible escape. A man waits to be asked a question. People search for each other in a world of possibilities.
This is going to be a short review, because it’s about a really short book. A Passport to a Nation of Talking Slugs took me less than half an hour to read – rather neatly, almost the exact length of the train ride I was undertaking.
The stories are difficult to neatly categorise. Science fiction is probably the closest genre, but there are elements of horror and the unsettling in all the stories. But the genre isn’t really the important thing – these stories are primarily atmospheric, rather than plot-driven.
That’s not to say that there aren’t plots. Events unfold and resolve in a way that I found satisfying. But each story here seems like a snapshot from a larger narrative – you get hints about how everything has ended up this way, but the focus is on a tight moment, one that reveals something important against a larger backdrop. The author doesn’t delve deep into backstory, because he doesn’t need to. The emotional punch doesn’t come from the cause of events, but the emotions of those involved in them.
I was impressed by these stories. They’re varied and complex, dealing with sophisticated emotions. Don’t read these if you want something fun and action-filled, or something that matches current ideas of what horror or science fiction should be. These stories are somewhat experimental, as well as both melancholy and unsettling. Read them if you want to think.