The Midnight Diner is a speculative fiction series specifically interested in stories about faith, belief, religion, culture, spirituality, society, humanity and, above all, open to GOOD WRITING of SPECULATIVE nature. And, no restrictions on language or violence or sexual nature – as long as it serves the story.
Above all, the goal of this anthology series is to:
spec·u·late: 1. to engage in thought or reflection; meditate; 2. to indulge in conjectural thought
And all the stories are:
So you can see what potential we have here at The Diner. It’s a speculative anthology series. Which means, LOTS of genres are/can be represented:
Horror (Creature Horror, Paranormal, Lovecraftian, Quiet Horror)
Which makes The Third Level, a collection of short stories by the late Jack Finney, a must-read for folks looking to submit to future editions of the Diner (and a must read for speculative writers in general). This collection boasts great stories about odd little occurrences: slips in time, dimension-bending, fortune-telling, and other “odd” events that take place in the out of the way, forgotten corners of the world.
Imagine Bradbury – but told straight. Without some of the lyricism and wide-eyed wonder. And this is what makes the collection so powerful: Finney very gently, subtly ushers each story into the odd and the bizarre and the strange.
Many of these stories deal with time travel, but focus more on things like: fate, predestination, “what ifs”, social climate change, rather than method (again, making his work very much like Bradbury’s).
Also, several of the stories are like “flip-side” tales of the weirdness we read about every day in the newspaper. So there’s a newspaper story about an odd corpse found in an alley, wearing out-of-date clothing, ancient currency lining its pockets? Well, here’s the story theorizing how that happened (“I’m Scared”).
I highly recommend these stories for not only their imaginative nature, but because of Finney’s light touch. These stories ease into their realms of weirdness, almost without the reader even realizing it, at first. And there’s wonderful synchronicity in his work. In other words, when you sit back and consider how he ushered you into weirdness, it makes sense.
Like the young man who’s a misfit in his generation, a man “out of time” because of his love for old cars, who lovingly spends hours restoring an old car, an old car that none of his peers like (not even the gals), then goes driving along an old side-road itself over a hundred years old – and suddenly, in the middle of this confluence, he finds himself almost thirty or forty years in the past (“Second Chance”).
And he’s there for a reason. Which is another nice touch to a lot of these stories. There’s a reason or purpose – even if impersonal Fate – behind these little time hiccups.
The Third Level’s out-of-print, but there are a few places you can snag it at reasonable price, second-hand:
Amazon.com - $4.99
Abebooks.com – $5.00
Definitely worth every penny. Used book stores may have it, also. I highly recommend hunting up a copy.
Kevin Lucia is a Contributing Editor for Shroud Magazine, a podcaster for Tales to Terrify and a blogger for The Midnight Diner. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. He’s currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children. He is the author of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, Book Four of The Hiram Grange Chronicles, and he’s currently working on his first novel. Visit him on the web at www.kevinlucia.com.