20th Century Ghosts
is a short story anthology written by Joe Hill
. While the stories are predominately horror, there are some other genres as well.Stories in 20th Century Ghosts:
- "Best New Horror": A jaded editor of an annual horror anthology discovers a disturbing short story and attempts to track down its elusive author.
- "20th Century Ghost": An old-style movie theater is haunted by the spirit of a young woman who died there.
- "Pop Art": A young outcast befriends another boy who is made out of inflatable plastic.
- "You Will Hear the Locust Sing": A young man wakes up and finds that he has turned into a giant insect.
- "Abraham's Boys": A father tries to teach his sons about vampires.
- "Better Than Home": About a troubled boy whose father manages a baseball team.
- "The Black Phone": A young boy is kidnapped by a child murderer and held in a basement with a mysterious black phone hanging on the wall. At night, the phone rings.
- "In the Rundown": A videostore clerk discovers a grisly scene on a weedy dirt lane.
- "The Cape": A young boy discovers that he can fly with the use of a cape.
- "Last Breath": An old man runs a museum which contains the last breaths of various notable individuals.
- "Dead-wood": Can trees have ghosts?
- "The Widow's Breakfast": A hobo comes across a good Good Samaritan.
- "Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead": Two ex-lovers meet each while working as extras on the set of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead.
- "My Father's Mask": A family goes on a strange trip where everyone is forced to wear masks.
- "Voluntary Committal": A story of two brothers, one of whom is an Idiot Savant who builds a vast cardboard fort that enters different worlds.
- "Scheherazade's Typewriter": A daughter discovers that her dead father's typewriter is still writing stories...
Tropes in the short stories:
- Body Horror: "You Will Hear the Locust Sing."
- Comicbook Adaptation: In addition to writing an adaptation of "The Cape", Hill also wrote a sequel and prequel in comic form.
- Evil Phone: Subverted in the short story "The Black Phone". The circumstances and nature of the phone are fairly dark, but the phone's actually not so evil at all.
- Face-Heel Turn: The ending of "The Cape".
- Genre Adultery: Quite a few stories have no horror elements.
- Genre Savvy: One benefit to Eddie Carroll, the jaded horror anthology editor in "Best New Horror".
- Kitsch Collection: The short story "The Last Breath" features of collection of famous people's last breaths.
- Macabre Moth Motif: In "20th Century Ghost", a ghost in a movie theater appears friendly and normal at first, but after people interact with her for a little while strange things start happening, including creepy white moths gathering all around her.
- Magic Realism: "Pop Art" features the titular character Art who is a biologically-born inflatable person in a world where it's a rare but occurring genetic disorder.
- Superheroes Wear Capes: Deconstructed in "The Cape".
- Surreal Horror: Many but particularly "My Father's Mask".
- Van Helsing Hate Crimes: "Abraham's Boys" plays off this although it also implies that Van Helsing is just crazy.
- X Meets Y: "You Will Hear the Locust Sing" is The Metamorphosis meets Them!.