I recently finished Visions of the Mutant Rain Forest by Bruce Boston and Robert Frazier and loved it. The writing is lush and intelligent. There is much of the classic craft in these lines and I can imagine them draining from the pen of Lovecraft or Poe.
The book hooks you from the start with a short story by Frazier called Cruising Through Blueland. A gritty tale of greed and corruption, the characters are set in a landscape just unfamiliar enough to be unsettling.
The other world tech blends seamlessly into the story, quickly immersing the reader into Blueland’s alternative reality. It ends with open satisfaction—no irritating loose ends, but room for more.
If this wasn’t enough to justify this book’s place on shelves, the tale is followed by poetry by both Boston and Frazier. The poems are a satisfying follow up with meaty verse and meaning to chew through. None of them are quick dittys spewed across the page in quick succession. Each poem stands alone with merit.
One of my favorites is A Decadent Romantic Afflicted by the Mutant Rain Forest. Written by Boston, the word play frolics with imagery that echos the hazardous and lovely world created by the authors. There is a wistful pang woven throughout the book, but here I feel it the most acutely. It makes me mourn for what isn’t real and long for what isn’t possible—emotions that come from excellent writing.
The book alternates between eight stories and poetry creating a literary journey for the reader. Each section stands alone nicely, not propped up by each other, but they are interconnected. Boston and Frazier work in tandem to create this world of ecological vengeance.
Another favorite poem for me is Phantom Limb by Frazier. I’m a fan of using the wrong word to create a new meaning as Frazier does in this poem with his use of “sole” rather than soul. It makes me smile and know I’m not alone.
The final story in the book, Surrounded by the Mutant Rain Forest, resonates with me. Written by Boston, it’s a love story presented with horror, or perhaps a horror story presented with love. Regardless, all the trappings of romance are present as boy meets girl and struggles against the usual entrapment issues. What Boston communicates, however, is bigger than the characters he sets in motion. The story is about relationship, but with what?
The entire book, together, is as varied as a real rain forest. Layers combine to create the understory, intertwined with facets from this fictional mutant forest, to connect and illuminate until the reader bursts through the canopy with The Mutant Forests of Mars and back into the light, now harsh against the living shadow just traveled.
A great, rich read worthy of savoring.