Godheads is a collection of six short stories by Australian author Patrick O’Duffy. It’s a mixed bunch of mostly dark urban fantasy ladled with varying quantities of surrealism. A couple of them - ‘Metatext Otis’ and ‘The Salbine Incident’ - are essentially literary jokes (referencing Kafka and Conan Doyle respectively), which if a touch indulgent are also funny, so all is forgiven. ‘On the Redeye Express’ is like an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ set to loud techno, if Rod Serling were an angry junkie in a bad relationship. ‘Meanwhile at the End of Days’ is a melancholy and beautiful Rapture tale about the intrusion of the extraordinary into a very ordinary day. In the grim and fast-paced ‘Objects in Hindsight May be Deader than They Appear’ an occultist society haze their newest member by making him deal with something weirder than a ghost.
All five are striking stories. Great ideas, well told. ‘Meanwhile’ actually makes me a little sad. Which makes the title piece ‘Godheads’ a bit of a disappointment. The tale of clubbers getting high on the rendered essence of dead gods, the narrator of ‘Godheads’ is a little too repulsive for sympathy. This is the longest story in the collection and suffers by comparison to the sparkling brevity of some of the others. By the end it has worn out its welcome - but even so, the ideas are brilliant and the storytelling is commanding. O’Duffy has a great sense of rhythm and his prose flows smoothly off the page. This is an author I’m keen to see more from.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)