Sunday, May 18, 2008

Flesh Welder

The publishing collapse in the horror genre in the mid-90s began hard times for a number of established writers. Some left writing entirely as the markets dried up. Among these was Ronald Kelly, who had published eight novels and numerous short stories, including the classic Fear. Kelly gave up writing for ten years, but has now begun a welcome comeback. Cemetery Dance published his chapbook Tanglewood earlier this year, and now a new publishing house Croatoan Publishing, has kicked off its line with Flesh Welder.

Flesh Welder is a short story, originally published in the relatively obscure Noctulpa back in 1990, and unfamiliar to most. It is a post-apocalyptic tale, taking place in Houston about ten years from now. The city, and probably the world, is in ruins from an unexplained war. The area is covered with radioactive zones, and there is a vicious, guerilla-style war still raging, apparently along ethnic lines.

One of the most important survivors in the area is Doctor Rourke, who has acquired the ability to weld flesh – that is, to replace missing body parts with scavenged meat from the many casualties in the area. With traumatic amputations common due to the nature of the fighting, he is important to all sides. The story concerns what happens when Jeremiah Payne, the most cruel of the commanders, needs his services, a man who Rourke despises.

Flesh Welder is a highly entertaining story, and Croatoan has produced a very handsome book. The cover, by Zach McCain, is striking, and the book includes an extensive interview with Kelly by Mark Hickerson, as well as an excerpt from Kelly’s upcoming novel, Undertaker’s Moon. It’s good to see Kelly return.

The book can be ordered from the publisher by going to The cost is a fairly incredible $5.00 (including shipping and handling!). At that price, you should give it a try, and quick before they come to their senses. It comes autographed by Kelly and McCain.

Note: Since this review originally appeared on Skullring, Flesh Welder has completely sold out. Congratulations to Ronald Kelly and to Croatoan Publishing.

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