[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.
Although not all eight tales feature ghosts, they do share a general sense of spooked unease at the effects of digital technology, for which the supernatural provides both narrative structure and metaphor ... 'Charity,' like 'Signal,' suffers from a final scene whose playfulness undermines rather than accompanies what the story elsewhere implies is a weightier purpose. A more satisfying marriage of narrative and meaning comes in the title story ... The best story of all is the one that most completely encapsulates the book’s concerns, influences, and techniques. 'Coffin Liquor' features the journal of an academic at an economics conference in Romania ... might taking a lofty view of digital technology have...dangers? It’s a question that the story tellingly entitled 'We Happy Few' confronts head-on.