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Saturday, May 10, 2014

"Paranoid Fantasy #1" by Lawrence Watt-Evans

First appeared in The American Atheist.  Reprinted by Isaac Asimov, Terry Carr, and Martin H. Greenberg.

For a one-page story, this has remarkable sophistication--not only that, it was Lawrence Watt-Evans's first story.  I don't know if he had Joseph Heller's quote from Catch-22 in mind when Watt-Evans scribbled this down, but it smells like it:
“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Nathan has a number of superstitious habits:  wearing crosses, spreading garlic, avoiding sidewalk cracks.  His friend Eddie harasses him for his superstitions and then... *spoiler* gets carried off by monsters.

What makes this sophisticated is the question:  What is the paranoid fantasy?  The monsters that come out at night?  The whole thing (constructed by protagonist)?  Or the reality of those that think that paranoid fantasies cannot be real?  It could as equally apply for or against any religious or anti-religious affiliation.

If the above description intrigues you, it's worth checking out.  It opens Watt-Evans' collection, Crosstime Traffic, so you can read it as a sample.

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