Unforgettable: Reviews

Midwest Book Award - Silverhalloween-sealWinner,
Alternate Futures
Halloween Book Festival (nat’l prize)
– October 2013

Second Prize,
Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror
Midwest Book Awards – May 2012

Honorable Mention, Genre-Based category
DIY National Book Festival – March 2012

“This is a delightfully fun read, a literary smorgasbord, and a collection unlike any other. The spirit of The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and scores of other genre greats is alive and well here, all of it imbued with McComas’ own unique panache—plus, the excellent commentary at the beginning of each entry provides valuable 'writer’s insights.' It’s punk and dark comedy and genuine horror and extravagant science fiction and distinctly dystopian—all of this and more in one massive genre collection. Readers should not forget to pick up Unforgettable.”
Shadowland Magazine

“Outstanding. Adult material, written in an adult manner. Good character development and engaging plot lines. I have been reading in these genres since 1956 (or so), and this is one of the best collections of such stories I’ve had the pleasure to read. Excellent cover illustration. The editorial work is exemplary.”
From Judge’s Comments, 2012 Midwest Book Awards

Recommended. Paul McComas will probably become more familiar to SF readers soon: he’s collaborated with legendary author William F. Nolan on a new Logan’s Run novel, Logan’s Journey, slated to come out soon. McComas’ new collection Unforgettable includes two great outtakes from that partnership (“Pentas!” and “Icemare”) as a nice preview, and they work very well in their own right as short stories. Of McComas’ solo stories, the strongest include ‘Icediver’, an interesting look at a frozen world inhabited by a seemingly lone survivor; a disturbing doppelganger tale, ‘Roomie’; and the more mainstream, introspective ‘Descent/Ascent and the Answering Wind.’ Overall, it’s a well-written variety of SF, horror, mainstream fiction, humor, etc. that has something for everybody. Pick it up.”
Dark Discoveries

One of the best collections of 2011. Ordinarily, this type of book would be a recipe for disaster. It’s a mix of genres (horror, sci-fi, dark comedy, etc.); includes songs, novel excerpts, and screenplays; features stories written with other authors (including William F. Nolan of Logan’s Run fame); and has commentary for almost every piece. Again, a recipe for disaster … except, somehow, it’s not. In fact, Unforgettable is truly just as its title promises. Author Paul McComas has been writing since he was a young boy (some of his youthful stories are included here), and his love of the art is apparent in every piece in this book. His commentary preceding each work is a delight as well, helping you feel like you’re really getting to know the author. Not every story will be to your liking, but I predict you will enjoy the majority of them. (“Malfeasance” [written with Eric Diekhans] is shudder-inducing and very timely, and “The Rail” [with Laurence Minsky] will haunt you.) Some are disturbing; some are genuinely funny or touching; and all of them show imagination and skill.”
Fearless Reviews, www.fearlessbooks.com

Unforgettable is a fun read, bursting at the seams with 487 pages of short stories, scripts, songs, pictures, and plays; McComas is never short of interesting tales to tell. “The Collector (XOXO)” (co-authored by C.J. Ullrich), “Roomie,” and the title story are highlights, as the author easily pits real-world problems such as work, roommates, and relationships against supernatural, horrific, and somtimes dystopic ideas. He also never holds back in his writing style, which is a joy to read; McComas lets you see the serious author, the silly aspiring writer, and the shrieking fanboy within him. He knows how to craft a story, and he excels at letting the reader get to know him; the book reads as a quasi-memoir, which I enjoyed, for the author is a man whom you’d want to be friends with. Plus, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, and it’s apparent that you shouldn’t take all of Unforgettable too seriously, either.”
Leading Edge Magazine

“McComas isn’t bashful about his work—nor should he be: he has put together, in his 50 years, a great compendium of original fiction. His work transcends politics to address humanity itself, often with a dollop of unrequited love. The dialogue has depth, and the descriptions shine. This author bares his soul, but what’s more, we see in Unforgettable that there’s something about him as a co-author that allows others to bare their souls as well. Take [his and Eric Diekhans’] cinematic and frighteningly realistic horror story ‘Malfeasance’, which places a very human heroine in the maw of an intelligent mega-corporation; it’s an incredible piece of writing.”
Gary McLouth, Host of Today’s Authors, Ion Cable Network

“★★★★☆ I have never run across a collection as comprehensive as the prolific Paul McComas’ Unforgettable. There is so much material, it’s almost overwhelming; the book contains everything from short stories and screenplays to play scripts and even song lyrics, covering a number of genres and formats, with enough artwork included to further pique interest. The stories comprise a virtual speculative-fiction buffet, including aliens, zombies, various monsters and creatures, strange futures, and apocalyptic landscapes, with plenty of action, horror, and humor mixed in for extra flavor. The stories “Roomie” and “House of Dogs” are definite high points, but “Levitation” is probably the best of the bunch, as evidenced by its recent win of the One Book, One Highland Park (IL) Ray Bradbury Award for Best Science Fiction Short Story. My own absolute-favorite part of the anthology is the Star Trek songbook, wherein Mr. McComas pens lyrics to the theme songs and incidental music of the various Star Trek TV shows. There is enough here to satisfy whatever your fiction appetite may be; moreover, a fan of speculative fiction will have no trouble finding something within its nearly 500 pages to fulfill any genre-specific fix.”
Tales of the Talisman

Recommended. You may not be able to tell a book by its cover, but the sexually charged art by Nick Endres that opens Paul McComas’ collection Unforgettable homes in on prospective readers like a heat-seeking missile. Evocative of Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo but with a cyber twist, the cover depicts a bold, nearly nude beauty kneeling before a godlike robot and offering him (it?) an electronically generated serpent. Who is tempter, and who is master/mistress? Such questions and wit animate this collection’s sly update to now-classic gothic stuff and science fiction ranging back to the 1930s and ’40s.

Unforgettable is a kind of creative autobiography, a record of one man’s joyous life-journey through art, as well as a look into the continuing development of a facile talent that’s been conditioned by the applause of stage work—with talented fellow travelers enlisted along the way. His early mentor, Logan’s Run author William F. Nolan, is collaborating with McComas on a sequel, and that work is previewed here. There are a host of other allies as well, with a whole section devoted to co-written stories: obviously, one’s art need not be done in a vacuum. Admirably, one of these pieces, near the heart of the book, is unpretentious enough to quote and feature Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi (I do not recall ever before seeing Ray Nitschke’s name in a short story!), a genuflection to McComas’ Wisconsin upbringing.

“Contrary to many of the forthrightly macho forebears in his genre, McComas courts favor with women readers. This is not your father’s—or, for that matter, your mother’s—genre fiction. What’s more, maybe he has penned, as he claims here, “The Most Terrifying Three-Word Dystopian / Dark Fantasy / Horror Story Ever Written.”

“Much of this volume’s pleasure derives from satirical takes on the pop culture that is our common currency, but the author makes no bones about manifesting dystopian visions of the future that challenge the optimistic naïveté of the Star Trek and Star Wars generations. And while McComas acknowledges that his is a “genre” offering, his authorial ego flies into the teeth of a recession with a tome massive and pricy enough to challenge reader loyalty from the get-go with the implicit question, “Are you really ready for this?”
Chicago New City

“Paul McComas is engaging, intelligent, and creative in many media, and his new book, the short-story collection Unforgettable, is a sharply written return to his genre-fiction roots.”
Milwaukee Shepherd-Express

“McComas’ fiction is punk, in a good way: frequently over the top, unafraid to be noisy and have a good time.”
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“With these Unforgettable stories, McComas rubs shoulders with H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe.”
Mark Scarborough, Chairman, Edgerton (WI) Book & Film Festival

“Through his ‘unforgettable’ settings, themes, and ideas, McComas conjures up some pretty tough stuff about future dystopias and post-apocalyptic travails, eased — somewhat — by streaks of dark humor.”
Evanston (IL) Review / Pioneer Press

“This new horror collection from one of Wisconsin’s most lauded and most highly acclaimed authors is not a book you want to read right before going to sleep. Here as in his other works, McComas’ writing is as wonderful as his speaking voice. He is quite an experience!”
Ann DeKorsi, “Milwaukee Midweek,” WMSE-FM

“Read this mammoth 500-page career overview by daring longtime Chicago performance artist Paul McComas not straight through in an uninterrupted stretch, but rather one short piece at a time before bed and at other spare moments — with, of course, it being still more rewarding simply to see him perform live if you have the chance, as McComas has honed his skills over the decades into a tight, entertaining experience. His themes and attitudes draw equal inspiration from convention fan-fiction and late-night television horror-show hosts, with so many different kinds of pieces included that you’re bound to find some you like. It’s recommended. ★★★★☆”
Chicago Center for Literature and Photography

“Paul McComas has creative energy to burn, and his ambitious new genre collection is an entertaining and enlightening thrill ride.”
Off the Shelf, Evanston (IL) Public Library

“Science fiction and horror evoke a certain fun fear of what may be lurking around the corner. Unforgettable: Harrowing Futures, Horrors, & (Dark) Humor is a collection of short fiction in which Paul McComas shares stories about the unknown, about what lurks around us — and about how our curiosity leads us to things we never expected. The book’s wide spectrum encompasses everything from the traditional zombies and vampires, to the more off-kilter voodoo, to speculative visions of the distant future. Unforgettable is an excellent genre collection that shouldn’t be overlooked. ★★★★★”
Midwest Book Review

“Many of the stories span different genres. They’re not just horror; they’re not just post-apocalyptic—they’re both, and more. The style is anti-Tolkien: rather than expounding on the exotic elements, the author makes them self-explanatory so he can focus on the characters and the plot. Many of the pieces serve as allegories of our lives today. [McComas] grabs the reader, develops the characters, does justice to the genre elements, and gets the moral across, all in a short amount of time.”
Milwaukee Public Radio/www.wuwm.com

“Entertaining. From futuristic stories of a frozen world to ‘Collies in Space,’ here’s everything you could possibly imagine, and some things you could not. I really enjoyed the re-do of Murder, She Wrote; it made me laugh. McComas’ brilliant story-telling techniques yield thought-provoking [tales] you won’t soon forget.”
May 2011 Book Pick, www.book-club-queen.com

“Paul McComas is my kind of writer; unforgettable, yes, but more importantly, uncategorizable, and that is a virtue never to be underestimated. He just wants to tell stories—lots of them. Every day, every story is new for him, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make each one work.

Unforgettable has something for everyone; screenplays, stage plays, short stories, song lyrics, even giant-spider-oriented excerpts from Paul’s and William F. Nolan’s forthcoming Logan’s Run sequel-novel. No matter where your taste runs (or leaves something to be desired), McComas has something for you. The book is huge (490 pages, with illustrations and lots of author commentary). It earns its hefty price tag not just with quantity, but also with quality.

“McComas takes his craft and his stories seriously, but not himself. This collection is wall-to-wall fun—so long as your definition of fun includes your own shedded skin cells gathering themselves together to visit you. You’ll find science fiction, fantasy, and horror, but the author approaches all with the same smart sensibility, combining the logical extrapolations of science fiction, the free reign of imagination in fantasy, and the dark anatomical sensibility of horror. Plus, happily, lots of this collection is funny. McComas is not trying to offer a slab of stories that ache with meaning and literary angst. He aims to let us have fun—a welcome goal.

“The entertaining introduction sets up McComas’ unpretentious literary game plan; it’s smart and fun, plus you get to see a photo of the author in a Logan’s Run Sandman costume. Fictionally, ten solo stories open the book, followed by stage plays, followed by a series of collaborations. In the solo stories, check out “The One That Got Away,” a wonderfully funny kick-ass fishing story written as a monologue. In the collaborations, see the aforementioned giant spiders with William F. Nolan and, with Paul’s wife, Heather McComas, ‘Collies in Space.’ He also offers a bevy of screenplays. Do not expect The King’s Speech. Do expect ‘Blood of the Wolfman’ and ‘Spaceslime!’ McComas even has the yarbles to offer up stories he wrote as a teen, as well as ‘Songbook Sinistre,’ lyrics that make you want to hear the music. He finishes the collection with another ten tales that lean toward the short, sharp, shock-and-joke variety.

“Chock-a-block with illustrations, interludes, and lots of author intros a la Harlan Ellison (who seems to be a muse here), Paul McComas’ Unforgettable lives up to its title even by virtue of the titles. I mean, who can forget a story called ‘Collies in Space’?

“Think of it as rock-and-roll science fiction. And horror. And humor. Or as a spiky, thorny grab bag of everything you can imagine—and a lot you cannot.”
Rick Kleffel, California Public Radio/www.bookotron.com

“‘Relax,’ a fairground vendor says with a cryptic wink while selling tickets-to-ride in Paul McComas’ Unforgettable. ‘There will be plenty of surprises.’ The vendor could just as easily have been talking about McComas’ vast new volume of speculative fiction, horror, and dark humor.”
Literary License, Society of Midland Authors

“‘An enjoyable collection of ‘What if?’ writing, full of wonderfully vivid description.”
Heddy Keith, Meet the Author, Cable Channel 96 (Milwaukee)

“You’ve often encountered the publishing cliché, ‘There has never been a book like this.’ Well, with the volume in your hand, that ‘cliché’ becomes fact. In these amazing, multi-faceted pages, Paul McComas puts the pedal to the metal and propels the reader through an awesome maze of literary delights. I won’t tell you what’s in store as each page is turned, but trust me, you’re in for a wild ride that will leave you breathless. McComas is a one-man powerhouse, an author-magician, a wizard with words whose range is unlimited. And Unforgettable is a stunning performance, a literary tour de force. Let me repeat: there’s never been a book like this. Never.”
William F. Nolan, author of Logan’s Run

“This compilation is the ‘unforgettable’ party we all want to attend. You enter the room and realize it’s packed with people and personalities of all kinds: some attractive, some scary, some out-of-this-world, but all compelling. Over there is the fisherman with the ultimate one-that-got-away story. Right here’s the lover who’s found a way to ‘charm’ the object of his adoration—literally. And here comes the trio of dogs who’ve crossed the universe to find a common bond on an alien world. Don’t miss this fete; allow your host, Paul McComas, to stretch your mind, make you laugh out loud, and keep you thinking long after you’ve read the last page.”
Joy Ward, author of Haint

“As Wordsworth said, ‘The child is father of the man.’ And indeed, an early interest in science fiction has informed much of Paul McComas’ later writing, for our benefit and entertainment. About life’s mysteries, Unforgettable, as one character states, ‘is open to unexpected answers—and, in due course, to the exploration that might provide them.’ The author’s solo pieces and collaborations alike are deeply disturbing, deliciously gruesome, and profoundly hilarious.”
Tim W. Brown, author of Second Acts

“Some stories make you laugh, some tug at your heartstrings, some creep you out, and some make you think. In this collection, Paul McComas does all of these—often within just one tale. The contents of these shorts make them unforgettable: the woman whose sloughed-off skin comes alive, the frantic race to escape a carnivorous office building, the fear of the child confronting the lion-shaped water fountain, the compassion of the man tending the fugitive scientist, the bleak landscape of the frozen world—all will stick with me for the rest of my life. McComas’ new collection is both high literature and accessible genre fiction. Seize it! Read it! Cherish it!”
Stephen D. Sullivan, Author of Martian Knights & Other Tales

“Unforgettable is in essence a ‘Paul McComas Reader,’ a vast and delightful sampling from the author’s prolific writings, focused on but not limited to sci-fi and horror. Here you will find McComas juvenilia, reprised adult stories, brand new tales, and collaborations. You’ll be hooked by one whopper of a fish story, shocked at a woman haunted by her own skin, amused by a tweener filming gerbils in the Christmas crèche—and you’ll find out what happens if you pee in the wrong place. This is a book for all of us who are addicted to Paul’s work, as well as for those needing an introduction to one our country’s most versatile and endearing artists. In short, Unforgettable—is.”
William Hart, author of Never Fade Away and Home to Ballygunge

“Paul’s fertile imagination, utter lack of pretension, and let-it-all-hang-out honesty make his writing not only accessible but relatable, for beneath all the monsters and aliens are recognizable human characters and emotions. The stuff of his fiction is quite simply the stuff of life; what comes through again and again is his recognition of the power of fictional worlds as a tool to cope with, interpret, and navigate the real world in which we all live. Suffusing Paul’s stories is the weight of consequences: scientific facts unheeded and political choices unmade; ambition and greed unbounded; the collateral damage of deliberate cruelty. It’s all here: honest expression, serious purpose, perverse playfulness—and even fearlessness.”
Eric Greene, author of “Planet of the Apes” As American Myth, from his Foreword

“Paul McComas has more energy in his writing than any other writer I know. He stretches the imagination into dark caves where monsters lurk. And then he’ll hit you with a twist so bizarre, it’s funny–or so funny, it’s bizarre. He’s a great monologist, and his dialects are pitch-perfect; he’s also a master of satire. McComas is also clearly a generous man, sharing credit and ink with other writers with whom he has collaborated, and giving away the secrets of his trade and his career. Anyone interested in how a serious yet playful writer works will be enlightened by his introductions and mini-essays about the creation of these wild stories, some of which were written when he was a teenaged fan, some extracted from his own fine novels, some written for literary zines, some written as outgrowths of the classes he teaches.

“The price is steep, yes. This fine collection of chilling, screaming-good stories is worth it. These stories will keep you awake at night. What’s more, people with constipation should keep this book in the bathroom; it’ll scare the shit out of them.”
John M. Daniel, author of Geronimo’s Skull and Elephant Lake

Head shot of Paul's adorable greyhound
Photo by Michael Altman
“Daddy is a writer. I don’t know what that means. Daddy plays with me, takes me for walkies, and gives me treats. I love him.”
Sam, the author’s rescue greyhound