[A] collection of eight contemporary ghost stories, with the horror stemming from the irresistible power that technology has over us. In real life we are obsessed, distracted, impolite, floating through a world of unravelling human bonds and never-ending notifications. Could fiction be worse? ... The stories are uneasy rather than frightening ... He is also socially alert; the tensions and disconnections of modern families are nicely illuminated. Lanchester conjures a sad shadow world all the more scary for being a mirror image of our own. These entertainments are brisk, vinegar-sharp satires that horrify and amuse in equal measure; an alarming reality check. Like a lesson in etiquette, it’s good medicine.
The eight tales in Lanchester's Reality and Other Stories are meant to entertain, to take you out of yourself for a space — and that they deftly do. Be forewarned, though: One of the most disturbing stories here touches on our own fearsome times.
The short fictions in Reality and Other Stories explore the scary sides of the internet, social media platforms, automation and artificial intelligence from a more playful perspective, treating digital lives and afterlives with dark comedy and a good dose of the supernatural ... Well-known for his powers of social observation, Lanchester alternates in this collection between the real, hyperreal and surreal ... The collection reimagines the known material world as immanently supernatural. An everyday object donated to a charity shop proves to possess malign powers; an unnamed labour-saving device turns out to be – well, that would be telling ... steeped in metaphysics, as the title itself makes clear. Our understanding of reality is toyed with from a classic epistemological perspective, but the author seems to enjoy himself more by applying it to electronic-age scenarios ... Not all of Lanchester’s narrative voices ring true, and there are one or two clunky devices and corny endings. But this is nevertheless a mind-bending collection about the multifaceted scariness of the way we live now.