Lisa Tuttle is an award-winning science fiction, fantasy and horror writer. Born in America in 1952, she has since relocated to the United Kingdom where she’s lived since the early 80’s. She’s published several novels (including Windhaven in collaboration with George R. R. Martin), short story collections and reference books over the years. Recently I read a handful of her stories from the collection of anthologies I have sitting on my shelf. My favorites were “Bug House”, “The Other Room” and “The Dream Detective”, but I throughly enjoy them all.
- “Bug House” (1980) – A young woman goes to spend a week at an elderly aunt’s house whom she hasn’t seen in a few years in order to get away from her husband after discovering he’s been cheating on her. She’s surprised at how poor a shape she finds both her aunt and the house in. The aunt admits she’s near death but wants to keep it a secret. A rude young man arrives to bring her groceries for which he doesn’t charge but does make himself comfortable as though he belongs there. There seems to be a disturbing relationship between the young man and her aunt in this well-written creepy, supernatural tale.
- “The Other Room” (1982) – A man returns to the house he inherited from the long deceased grandfather he never met in order to search for a mysterious secret room he once found while very ill as a child. Upon doing so, he hopes to rescue his dying daughter by pulling her away from the long, pale white beings he found there so long ago. I love the unique type of specter found in this top-notch story.
- “Bits and Pieces” (1990) – A single woman named Fay keeps finding uninjured, still living, yet detached body parts from the various lovers she’s taken to her bed, even though they remain alive elsewhere and still retaining those appendages. She hides the parts away in her room while trying to figure out how this is happening and what she can do with them. It’s intriguing how much Fay herself begins to change with each new manifestation of these men.
- “Replacements” (1992) – In this novelette a man who never likes to kill anything, even insects, is driven to stomp a small, alien-looking vermin he spies in the street. Later, he sees another. He’s ashamed at acting upon the impulse but has the same feelings when his wife brings an identical one home that she found and insists on keeping as a pet. She quickly becomes obsessed with it, never letting it out of her sight and causing her to distance herself from her husband. When more show up, jealously guarded by the women who found them, it seems something nefarious is going on.
- “Objects in Dreams May Be Closer Than They Appear” (2011) – A woman and her ex-husband attend an event in the town where they used to live. They’re both haunted by the strange cabin they saw from an overpass in the early days of their marriage but could never reach.
- “The Dream Detective” (2013) – A man finds himself unattracted to the disheveled girl with whom his friend tries to set him up. Attempting to make small talk, he asks her what kind of work she does. She tells him she’s a dream detective, clarifying that she solves crimes committed in dreams but that she could never accept payment for her services. Afterward, he begins to sense, and later sees, her in his dreams. This causes him to begin to believe her outlandish claims. I don’t want say any more so as to not give away too much, but I found this to be an excellent story with a great ending. Highly recommended!
- “The Hungry Hotel” (2015) – An engaged woman meets a musician at a bar with whom she has an impromptu fling. She loves her fiancée but can’t resist the magnetism between them. He asks her to come stay the night at a hotel with him, but she refuses. He writes a song about the hotel which he says looks hungry. They part ways and go on with their respective lives until one day, many years in the future, she receives a letter in the mail with a room key card for that same hungry-looking hotel from before. Even though she’s now married with children, she decides to go there, but doesn’t find what she expected.
Article by Matt Cowan