Dead Men Can’t Complain and Other Stories: Diverse tales show Clines’ talent

Dead Men Can’t Complain and Other Stories by Peter ClinesDead Men Can’t Complain and Other Stories by Peter Clines

Dead Men Can’t Complain and Other Stories by Peter ClinesI love Peter Clines’ weird ideas and a short story collection seems the perfect way to experience a bunch of them. I found Dead Men Can’t Complain and Other Stories (2017) at Audible. At this moment there is no print version of this collection, but the audio version, with narration by two of my favorite readers (Ray Porter and Ralph Lister) is excellent and well worth picking up. It’s only 5 hours long.

The stories, which cover 10 years of Clines’ writing career, are:

  • “Mulligan” — The NSA has been called in to speak to a cop who has just interrogated a man in a lizard costume. As the cop tells his story, it gets weirder and weirder.
  • “Bedtime story” — A young boy tells his parents that one of his teachers has been bad-mouthing the superhero who watches over their city.
  • “The Long Deep Dream” — In this Cthulhu-inspired tale, a gumshoe investigates some eldritch goings-on in his city.
  • “The End of the Experiment” — A physics grad student tries to convince his friends that he built a time machine in the basement.
  • “Flesh Trade” — A busy mob boss meets with a one of his subordinates, but the meeting doesn’t go as he expects.
  • “Redneckromancy” — When the cow dies, a couple of farmers break out the black magic books to try to bring it back to life. This story is funny already, but the audio narration makes it hilarious.
  • “The Hatbox” — A 19th century medical student applies his meticulous research skills to the study of a zombie. Excellent narration, again. This story was Peter Clines’ first professional sale.
  • “The Apocrypha of Gamma-202” — Some robots amusingly argue about their religious beliefs.
  • “Dead Men Can’t Complain” — A dead man wakes up as a zombie and endures suspicion, profiling, prejudice and objectification.
  • “Forged” —A man asks his fortune-teller lover to grant him immortality, but she is resistant.
  • “Contraption” — Some detectives investigate a murder scene inside a Rube Goldberg machine.

Though there is repetitiveness of some elements in these stories (e.g., zombies are kind of Clines’ thing) and the surprise twist at the end becomes unsurprising by the time we start the third story, the tales are diverse and imaginative. Some use familiar tropes (e.g., the gumshoe, the 19th century scholar, the Cthulhu tale, the secret superhero tale), but each takes it in an unexpected direction.

I also like the diversity of styles and voices in this collection and Clines is spot-on with his characterization, even though many of his characters are clichés. The audio performances of Ray Porter and Ralph Lister brilliantly back up the author’s intentions.

I recommend Dead Men Can’t Complain and Other Stories to Audible members and, if you haven’t experienced the joy of Audible, this would be a good book to start with.

Published in May 2017. A cop interrogates a perp in a lizard costume that seems all too real. An all-powerful superhero protects his city – and they better like it. An average Joe finds out that being undead isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Including three never-before-published stories, Dead Men Can’t Complain is the first-ever collection of short fiction by Peter Clines, author of 14, The Fold, and other Audible smash hits. Combining equal parts geekery and humor with the occasional dash of horror, Dead Men Can’t Complain is ideal for Clines fans eagerly awaiting his next novel – or for brand-new listeners discovering this Audible favorite for the first time.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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One comment

  1. This one sounds like fun!

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