Authors: Robert Shearman
“Thrillingly unpredictable, bizarrely life-enhancing. . . . Shearman is a great writer.”
“A writer who is not afraid to approach the big subjects, but does so from interesting oblique angles and with a light, kittenish gait. Rather profound, ingeniously plotted.”
“Shearman’s prose is a mixture of faux-naive mundanity and breathtaking fantasy visions. Addictive. Wonderful.”
“Corrosively funny, wistful, sharp, strange and black as a coffin lid, Robert Shearman is an addictive delight.”
Mark Gatiss, Co-creator of
“Shearman offers us haunting, nightmare alternatives to our world that are still somehow utterly recognizable as our own, thanks to the way he always picks out the comically mundane among the impossible and the fantastical.”
Executive Producer and Hugo Award-winning writer for
“His stories are like the bastard offspring of Philip K. Dick and Jonathan Carroll, but with a quirky personality that is completely their own.”
World Fantasy Award-winning editor of
Best New Horror
“Shearman has a uniquely engaging narrative voice and he steers clear of genre clichés, injecting elements of horror and the surreal into a recognizably real world. As impressive as his quirky imagination is his emotional range: most of the stories are darkly humorous, but humour, horror and genuine pathos all make a powerful impact in a very short space.”
The Times Literary Supplement
“Shearman's stories are hard to categorize, a unique fusion of literary and the fantastic, perhaps not surprising from a writer whose credits include Doctor Who scripts and mainstream theatre.”
Remember Why You Fear Me
© 2012 by Robert Shearman
Cover artwork © 2012 by Erik Mohr
Cover design © 2012 by Samantha Beiko
Interior design © 2012 by Danny Evarts
All rights reserved.
Published by ChiZine Publications
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
EPub Edition OCTOBER 2012 ISBN: 978-1-92746-922-4
All rights reserved under all applicable International Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen.
No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
Edited by Helen Marshall
Copyedited and proofread by Kate Moore
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $20.1 million in writing and publishing throughout Canada.
Published with the generous assistance of the Ontario Arts Council.
To my sister, Vicky
who’s always been braver than me.
What can I say about Robert Shearman that hasn’t been said before?
Well, quite a lot, really.
Remember Why You Fear Me
is his first honest-to-god horror collection, which is odd because, as Rob will readily tell you, he doesn’t write horror fiction. Or even genre fiction for that matter.
Yet I first met Robert Shearman lurking at the top of an escalator at the World Fantasy Convention in Calgary, Alberta, in 2008. He was looking confused (which I later discovered is an almost perpetual expression for him). But not as confused as I was.
I pride myself as an editor for keeping up with what is happening in the genre. Yet here was this fellow Brit, who I had never heard of before, who was not only up for a World Fantasy Award for his first collection of stories,
(which, again, I had never heard of, let alone seen), but who had been additionally nominated for one of the stories in that collection, “Damned if You Don’t.”
That’s a hell of an introduction for anyone to the genre.
It turned out that Rob was better known as a playwright and radio dramatist, working alongside such luminaries as Alan Ayckbourn and Martin Jarvis.
However, perhaps his biggest claim to fame was that he scripted a 2005 episode of
, which is remembered by everybody as the one in which they brought back the Daleks.
As it turned out, Rob won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection in Calgary, which was no mean achievement for a fledgling author. However, his publisher didn’t see it that way. They were under the impression that they were publishing a book of “literary” stories, which is why they had never bothered to send it out to the usual genre reviewers. They were horrified when he returned home and proudly announced that he was the recipient of a big-arse bust of H.P. Lovecraft!
But trust me, as I discovered a few weeks later when he sent me a copy,
contained some terrific horror stories. These included the aforementioned “Damned if You Don’t” (one of the most disturbing, funny and surreal pieces of fiction I have ever read), “Mortal Coil” and “So Proud” and “Favourite.”
Two years later Rob had found a more sympathetic publisher and put together a second collection,
Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical
. Once again, the stories were an audacious mix of themes and styles, but he still managed to include the British Fantasy Award-nominated novella “Roadkill” (another personal favourite of mine), along with the popular “George Clooney’s Moustache” (also shortlisted for the same award) and “Pang.” As it was, the collection itself picked up the British Fantasy Award for that year, as well as winning the Shirley Jackson Award.
Whether he liked it or not, by now Rob was definitely considered a
With his third collection,
Everyone’s Just So So Special
, published in 2011, he pushed the boundaries of his fiction even further. The book featured “Cold Snap” along with two stories I had the honour of commissioning.
When I was putting together my anthology
The Dead That Walk: Zombie Stories
, I invited Rob to contribute something.
“But Steve,” he whined over lunch, “you know I’m not a horror writer. I can’t do that stuff without being funny. And I’ve never written a zombie story in my life.”
I ordered us a couple more bottles of wine and told him to go away and think about it.
A few weeks later he delivered “Granny’s Grinning,” one of the most terrifyingly twisted stories I have ever published. Yes, the word “zombie” is in there, but Rob’s particularly skewered tale went way beyond what anyone would expect to find in a book of stories about the reanimated dead. To my mind, it’s a modern classic of the genre.
So when it came time to do a follow-up anthology,
Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts
, I approached Rob again.
“But Steve,” he complained in the pub, “you know I can’t do horror stories. I’m no good at writing to a specific theme. And I’ve never written an angel story before.”
I bought us several more pints and told him to go away and think about it again.
Sometime later he submitted “Featherweight,” a particularly nasty story involving cannibal cherubs. Once again, it was like nothing else in the book.
Because neither of these volumes was published in the UK, I reprinted both of these stories in consecutive editions of The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror.
More recently, we were having dinner and I mentioned to Rob that I was working on two new anthologies—
Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead
A Book of Horrors
—and how pleased I would be if he could submit a story to both.