Stories for the Apocalypse #1: Notes on the New Normal

by Ben Tallon

Writers and artists make sense of the world through their craft. They seek changing norms, take inspiration from the unforeseen, and hope to reach an audience in need of a fresh point of view. The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing us, as suggested by this book’s subtitle, into a new normal. Ben Tallon dives in to document this strange global transition with his Stories for the Apocalypse #1.

These short stories show a world trying to keep hold of itself while confronted with the inexplicable. In the opening story, a woman cringes at her own aggression. In another, a man imagines evil lurking in an innocent scout weekend. The collection closes with an executive who falls afoul of a disgruntled spirit from beyond the grave.

Reading his stories, I can imagine Ben Tallon in his writer’s den or with his laptop incognito at a coffee shop, recording his thoughts as questions. What is the worst that could happen to you in the fifteen minutes you’re required to wait after a COVID vaccine? Could you mistake a person for a demon? Can a dead spirit, wronged in the afterlife, return for vengeance? Tallon morphs these questions into glimpses of a dissonant world. It’s a place we wish we didn’t recognize.

With black humor, Stories for the Apocalypse #1 reflects on the histories we are writing now. Composed during the crisis, these stories record the normalizing of the ridiculous, the breaking down of perspective, and the distorted proportions of a changing society. Tallon is prepared to say a lot about this; the title of his collection shows it’s the first in a series.

Many writers and artists are sizing up the altered climate, feeling out expectations, and searching the limits of newly extended boundaries. No doubt Ben Tallon’s fertile imagination can fill many volumes with stories to describe, moment by moment, the emergence of the new normal.

Thanks to Reedsy Discovery for providing an Advance Reader’s Copy of this title. Launch date, 4 March 2022.

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