In Unofficial Britain, his guide to the other country that occupies the same physical space as our own hellscape, Gareth E Rees explored the edgelands, the liminal spaces we overlook. Multi-story car parks, abandoned industrial estates, service stations, and more; all are mapped by Rees’s incursions into negative space.
His first collection of short fiction, Terminal Zones revels in the same locations, where the town reluctantly gives way to the countryside, and where so many lives go unwitnessed and so many stories untold. Rees’s protagonists are ordinary people doing ordinary things in ordinary spaces, but there’s a magic here, a life given to the likes of electricity pylons, the B&Q car park, and B-roads over salty marshland until they become supplementary characters in their own right.
There’s a pervading sense of unease throughout, occasionally breaking out into full-blown horror as humans expose their fragility and poison, and new and old horrors emerge from the land. Several of the stories appear to be set in the same post-climate emergency world - and there’s no good reason that they all can’t be - but this isn’t a set of stories written especially for this book. Rather it is a collection of Rees’s fiction from a number of disparate publications and that it reads so coherently is both testament to the consistency of the author’s vision and the fecund landscape it captures.
At a slim 188 pages, this is perfect pocket material for your own excursions into forgotten and ignored spaces. Take it with you as you explore towpaths, lay-bys, the far edges of retail parks, and those places whose DO NOT ENTER signs have long faded from oppressive sunlight and relentless rain…
TERMINAL ZONES is released by Influx Press on October 13th