Author: Nick Antosca
Publisher: Word Riot Press
First Published: May 14, 2013
Genres: Bizarro, Horror, Science Fiction, Short Stories
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Nick Antosca's The Girlfriend Game is a tumble through the looking glass into a vortex of violence and desire. The 12 stories in the newest collection by the Shirley Jackson Award-winning author are brutal, urgent and unforgettable.
In "Predator Bait," a decoy in a sex sting news show questions her job and the man who shares her bed. An undependable son watches his mother become a creature he hardly recognizes in "Amphibian." A young man plots the death of his girlfriend's killer in "Winter Was Hard."
Antosca crafts surreal doomsday scenarios and other-worldly transformations alongside painfully articulate depictions of sexuality and animal impulse. The stories in The Girlfriend Game are mesmerizing, leaving a haunting afterglow long after you close the book.Also by this author: The Quiet Boy
Warnings: Violence, Sexually Explicit Content
The Girlfriend Game is an interesting collection of stories that explores the darker side of human nature through stories that at times veered into the uncanny and animalistic. This collection provided a wide and diverse set of stories across several different genres.
The titular story, The Girlfriend Game, plays with the anxieties of individuals in a committed relationship and was one of the strongest entries in the collection. One of my personal favorite stories was Predator Bait, a story about a young woman that acts as an under-aged girl in a televised sexual predator sting operation, a satirized version of To Catch a Predator. It explores the ways that young women are considered attractive and sexualized.
“Do I seem adventurous yet?”
The one that I found to be the most chilling, Winter was Hard, was a real testament to cruelty and the human drive for revenge. The story was tense and has a slow build that left me feeling empty, the characters were well written and the story was gripping from start to finish. Soon You Will Be Gone and Possibly Eaten also stands apart as one of the most unique alien abduction stories I have ever read.
In all, this book was an indie gem that stunned me, even if a few of the stories were not to my taste. Antosca writes theatrically and it makes his stories very readable and easy to imagine. Many of the characters are average people struggling with their lives while questioning human nature.