written by David Steffen
“Obits” is one of the Hugo Finalists for the novelette category this year. It was published in Stephen King’s short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.
Mike Anderson takes a job at the online celebrity gossip mag Neon Circus writing joke obituaries of recently-deceased celebrities. His article becomes one of the most popular in the magazine. After he is turned down for a raise in frustration he writes an obituary about his boss to blow off steam and his boss dies unexpectedly that same day. Does his writing have the power to kill?
Overall this story is Stephen King in his best short story form–real world situation but with one bizarre idea thrown in, and explore the consequences. As is typical for Stephen King his characters feel like real people, enough so that it’s easy to imagine it all actually happening. As his colleague at Neon Circus starts to encourage him to explore his ability further I could really feel the downward spiral of feeling out that horrific talent. I was enjoying it quite thoroughly until the ending which was more of an ellipsis than a period or exclamation point. I don’t know if it makes it better or worse when the narrator of the story points out its lack of ending–I guess hanging a lantern on the lack of resolution is better than nothing? But I would’ve rather seen a more satisfying ending on the end of it, whether it took a lighter turn or a darker turn.
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