Out There:Stories

Title: Out There: Stories

Writer: Kate Folk

Publishing House: Random House

Date of Publication:  March 29th 2022

Rating: 5 stars

‘’By night our bones dissolve into our blood like sugar in tea. We sleep in anti-gravity pods with slick outer shells and vinyl interiors, our limbs held by Velcro straps, our torsos bound by cuirasses that force our lungs to expand. Classical music pipes through speakers, masking the ventilators’ hum. Outside, coyotes range over the Montana plains, scratching and whining, searching for dead things to eat. As the sun rises, our skeletons stitch themselves back together.’’

Relationships are altered. They crumble and fall like the human race. Falling in love becomes a leap into the void. Societies turn against each other. Communication and understanding are about to disappear. And the House, the one and only shelter for every human being is a source of absolute threat. 

These themes are executed to perfection by Kate Folk, one of the most exciting writers of our times.

Out There: A woman tries online dating in a future plagued by the existence of ‘’blots’’, humanoids created to do jobs no one wants or to exploit gullible women. But what if ordinary mortals are not adequate anymore? What world is this where a robot can take the place of a man because love is non-existent? A story that provides so many points for discussion!

The Last Woman on Earth: A chilling, brief and acute chronicle of the death of the human race. Discrimination and resentment are too hard to die…

‘’The more someone loves you, the more he’ll want to meddle with the most vital parts of you, and vice versa. The only way to not hurt someone is not to love him enough, to remain unmoved by the thought of his organs pulsing beneath a thin layer of skin.’’

Heart Seeks Brain: This story – told in a unique matter-of-fact style – takes us into a world where the sole criterium for falling in love is the attraction toward a human organ.

The Void Wife: In another haunting, devastating story, the Earth slowly vanishes because of a mysterious curtain of void. The only thing humans can now do is choose their companion for the new ternity. But is there an ‘’eternity’’?

Shelter: A couple moves away from the city due to work commitments. But there is something strange going on. The heavy rainfalls don’t seem to stop and the shelter in the house seems locked from the inside. An eerie atmosphere permeates the story along with the tangible exhaustion of the protagonist.

The Head in the Floor: In a superbly cryptic and memorable story, a head starts coming out of the floor. Literally. The future of the relationship that is born because of this situation is for the reader to decide…

Tahoe: A tale of forgetfulness, confusion and possible secrets that becomes more and more unnerving as it progresses.

The Bone Ward: A story of attraction, sex, jealousy and Art taking place in a medical ward where patients inflicted by a bone-melting disease are being treated. It becomes more and more sinister as it progresses in the most enticing way. Definitely one of the crown jewels in an outstanding collection.

Doe Eyes: A scorned woman goes to extremes in an effort to bring her husband back, making use of the deer hunters of her hometown.

‘’We sealed the rotting rooms. We slept together on the living room floor, close to the house’s beating heart.’’

The House’s Beating Heart: A group of students discover the heart of their house. Then, room by room, corner by corner, they discover every one of its organs. But the house has no intention to welcome them…Supreme and terrifying.

A Scale Model of Gull Point: An artist wins a trip to Gull Point, an ‘’outlaw’’ city that has become a fad, populated by former convicts and people living on the margin of society, an alternative holiday destination for curious tourists. But rebellion begins and havoc ensues…A monumental story that acquires a whole new significance when we read it as the massacre in Ukraine and the nightmare in Shanghai are in full swing.

Dating a Somnambulist: In a humorous, yet dark story, a woman has to put up with living with a somnambulist who brings all kinds of things (living and inanimate…) into their bed…

Moist House: A man has to tend to a house that needs moisture. But the house is a place of omens and visions. And obsessions…

‘’On the drive to his parents’ house in Sonoma, Ruben tells me about his family’s Thanksgiving tradition, the Turkey Rumble. It’s like Secret Santa, he says, except instead of gifts, his family members surprise each other with minor injuries.’’

The Turkey Rumble: Come on, this was ridiculously, outrageously perfect! I have run out of words to express my admiration for Kate Folk’s unique ability to shock me with just three sentences! A story that seems humorous, albeit slightly twisted, but its layers conceal so much! (Extensive use of exclamation marks is necessary…) 

Big Sur: In the last story, we come full circle as we witness the evolution of the relationship between a woman (who is far from gullible, actually…) and a ‘’blot’’. This one will surprise you and haunt you…

Yes, without a single doubt, this is one of the finest collections I’ve ever had the honour to read. Kate Folk has become one of my top favourite writers.

’’Get on, then, if you’re so keen on existing.’’