I’ll admit, I’m a fan of Michaelbrent Collings and all of his styles of horror. He says,
I LOVE this perspective, and I think it’s this perspective that makes his stories so great. All of his stories have twists that I didn’t see coming, and if they aren’t rolling-on-the-floor hilarious (like “Stranger Still“) they’re deeply thought-provoking (like “Malignant“).
If you’re debating whether to get into Collings’ books, “Future Tense” is a great place to start with snippets and samples into his styles.
This collection of short stories showcases Collings’ wide skillset and talents to be serious, thoughtful, and hilarious while also highlighting problems of society and mentality. Usually, only anthologies with multiple authors can get this range of variety, but he manages it all by himself! Truly, a work of a master storyteller.
While these stories have technically already been “posted” separately, only huge fans of Michaelbrent Collings, have read these. Collings first released the short stories to his Patreon subscribers. The novella at the end, however, was one of his first published works (an early version of one of his popular books, “Strangers”) which he pulled from availability about ten years ago.
So, even if you’ve read all of the stories, this collection is the only place you’ll find them all together in ebook/paperback format.
They’re short stories, so it’s hard to review them without giving spoilers, but here are the various themes I picked out (in chronological order):
Jingle All the Way: suicide
I Am An Ocean: free will and caring for others
Floor is Lava: youth and growing old. These characters were my favorite with lots of humor. I’d like to see this one fleshed out as a full-length novel.
Lucid Dreams: isolation and the risks that people take for mental cures.
The Shortest Con: I couldn’t pin a theme on this one, but I read “The Longest Con” just to better appreciate this hilarious short story that hints at an upcoming sequel!
End of Shift: “gifts” for the innocent. At first, I imagined this as a twisted version of Legion (from “Stranger Still”) in retirement. Old man punishes wicked people in ways that they intended to hurt others. Then, there was the twist, and I REALLY wanted a fully explored story of Kristoff’s work.
That’ll Sell: “Stranger Than Fiction” meets “Game of Thrones.”
I Can Do This All Night: sexism.
The Button Man: bombs and who’s to blame. This one takes a while to get into, but hold on because the end is worth it. Like, “The Lottery” level of twisted that makes you think long after the story’s over.
The Stranger Inside: secrets turn family members into strangers. One F-bomb. It’s still a great story, but I consider “Strangers” to be an upgrade (which makes sense, since it’s a later revision).
Growing up on “Horror Stories to Tell in the Dark,” and “Short and Shivery,” I have a special love for short horror. It developed more when I studied short stories in high school – all of which were a bit morbid and ended with a sucker punch to hammer in the moral theme. “Future Tense” by Michaelbrent Collings is a masterful collection that uses forms from the classics to tell stories that apply to today’s society and mentality. *****4.75 stars*****
This book will be released March 23rd, 2022.