Stargazers - by L.P.Hernandez
I bought Stargazers on the strength of L.P.’s short story, The bystander, in the Human Monsters anthology released last year. L.P.’s voice really shone in that short, and there was a lot of hype over Stargazers around the same time, so I snapped it up and finally got to read it at the turn of the new year.
From the central idea here, it is similar to Stephanie Ellis’s excellent “Paused” – in that, inexplicably, for no discernable reason (governing who is chosen), people suddenly lose control of their bodies, and go outside and stare at the stars, regardless of what they were doing before, what they were wearing, etc. In Ellis’s version, people are stricken and immobile. In Stargazers, the urge is to stare at the stars – but the end result is the same – lack of impulse to eat, dress according to the weather, be aware of hazards etc – the horror comes from the mindless inability of those people stricken with the affliction to do anything to protect their bodies from outside elements or from the nature of other scrupleless human beings.
Here, the horror is three-fold, we get natural hazard horror, and human nastiness, but also, some of the stargazers (as they are called) attack their families as if being controlled by something else. The story revolves around a man fighting to protect his family from the phenomenon and also trying to shield his daughter from the horror of actually witnessing the horror as it unfolds.
This is a blast. It reads pretty much like a zombie horror novel towards the end, with specific stargazers actively hunting the man and his daughter, and the ending answers the “why” of the book, though I think it pretty clear what the cause is if one applies logic to what the stargazers are looking at/for. It didn’t come as a surprise, but it did bring closure, and the storytelling is gripping, well written, and the pages flew by.
I don’t think you can go wrong with this one, it’s a shortish novella, but the speed which you gobble up the entirety of it (read in one sitting) shows you made a great choice, and Hernandez is a voice to look out for. I immediately bought The Rat King after finishing the last page, and look forward to L.P. once again showing me the strength of his shorts.
Excellent buy, 5 out of 5 ⭐ ‘s, and a fantastic start to the My Dark Library series from Mother Horror.
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