Reviewed by Andreas Martin (Ethiopia 1965–68)
A Game in the Sun and Other Stories is a fascinating collection of material by John Coyne. John has had considerable success as a writer of novels and short stories in the horror genre, as well as a number of books on the topic of golf, (together, horror and golf make a pretty good description of my golf game). This particular collection spans nearly 60 years and consists of twelve stories previously published in mystery and horror magazines and anthologies. In addition, there are two recent original pieces appearing for the first time in print.
John has led a varied life and these stories reflect some of his background. I was particularly taken by the stories set in Ethiopia because John and I were both Peace Corps Volunteers there. These stories look at what happens when people, willingly or not, find themselves in cultures or circumstances vastly different from what they know and are comfortable with, and how they react to the stresses and challenges of their new situations.
I like a good scare as much as anyone and I do consider myself a sometime fan of horror fiction. But as scary as some of these stories are, they delve a lot deeper into the human psyche than typical horror stories. The stories all touch on very common and current themes to which most of us can relate. Many of them not just scared me, but they horrified me by their twists and turns making me, at times, squirm with discomfort. After finishing several of them I had to do some soul searching, asking myself how closely I related to some of the events and would I ever be capable of some of the horrors John depicts. Beware, not all the stories are supernatural. Rather, they are more about the horrible things that people are capable of doing to each other and their consequences.
All in all, A Game in the Sun and Other Stories, reflects the breadth as well as the depth of John’s truly weird imagination. It’s well worth reading and I recommend it highly.
Since three years service as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Andreas Martin has worked in publishing for Cambridge University Press and other companies, on the sales side of publishing.
This review has also been published by Amazon.