Terror: Catgut Series

A terrible plague and its consequences force the human race underground. Hundred of years later, survivors continue to live in the caverns beneath the earth, governed by dictatorship, living in the darkness. But every year a fortunate few are chosen to travel to the surface earth, to be part of the colony rebuilding a fortified settlement that will soon allow the survivors to escape their underground prison. TERROR is the third in the CATGUT series, six suspense filled novellas with a twist in the tail, examining the future of medicine in an age where technology advances faster than our ability to understand its consequences.

Kirkus Independent Reviews


A subtle and meaningful collection about humankind under stress.

A clear concern for humanity, reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s dystopian fiction, appears throughout all of Falconer’s stories.


Dystopian futures reveal the universality of primal human emotions in this SF story collection.

Each story in this anthology focuses on people grappling with the consequences of intense emotions. Highlights include “Terror,” in which a father and son living in a subterranean city win a lottery to join a group of citizens headed aboveground to prepare Earth for repopulation. According to their leaders, “the Terror,” defined as having “sharpened pointed” teeth and “catlike” eyes, live on the surface. As part of their pre-ascent orientation, the citizens view frightening images from the past. The leaders manipulate them through the use of special effects (“thunder rolled around the room, so that the very benches they sat on trembled”) so that they’ll uncritically accept the mission. In “Despair,” Skazi, a gambling addict and prisoner, awakens in corporate psychiatric facility Trans-Con, which rehabilitates mentally ill persons by shifting “the consciousness of patients…to primates and returning it back.” It turns out that participation in the program is mandatory, and noncompliance of any kind results in enslavement and exile to another planet for life. A clear concern for humanity, reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s dystopian fiction, appears throughout all of Falconer’s stories here; their characters start out as victims of their unique situations, as one might expect, but they’re also at the mercy of their own individual flaws, as well. As if to accent the theme of humanity, the stories all distinctively open with the protagonist encountering a specific smell, such as “garlic,” “perfumed floral air,” “roasting coffee beans, “freshly cut grass,” or “sweat, linen, plastic.” Moreover, they all struggle against greater societies where humanity—as a group and as a state of existence—has been diminished, giving the tales an unmistakable feeling of profundity.


A subtle and meaningful collection about humankind under stress.


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