The first Zippered Flesh anthology from Smart Rhino Publications was a delirious and often disgusting switchback ride through a very dark subgenre of horror. Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad! brings together 22 more extremely unsettling tales of … what it says in the title and subtitle. Actually, that’s not entirely true: There’s a bit of a drift from the subtitle description, in that a lot of the stories concern body horror but not body enhancements, but then the first anthology was the same and none the worse for it.
Perhaps there’s a just a shade more repetition and sameness, a little less imagination, scattered across this collection, with an awful lot of shady clinics, mysterious assassins (as well as some unique assassination methods), and unhinged doctors: more of the sheer delirium of something like Aaron J. French’s “Whirling Machine Man” from the first Zippered Flesh collection would have been good. All the same, some of the tales do rise to similar heights. Christine Morgan’s “The Sun-Snake,” for instance, is a dip into a very different and frightfully alien tradition of body modification, while Kealan Patrick Burke’s “Underneath” delves into high school social tortures for its slice of something unpleasant. There’s also plenty of weird sex, but not necessarily the kind you’d expect – prosthetics take a back seat to Bigfoot in at least one tale, and A.P. Sessler’s “The Perfect Size” uses oriental medicine for a sardonic take on race difference and sex. There’s even an allusion to Arthur Machen’s classic “The Great God Pan” in David Benton & W.D. Gagliani’s “Piper at the Gates.”
All in all, if your taste is for raw and ripped flesh, this is certainly a volume you want to check out. Cronenberg would have cyborg kittens.