Review: Constellations of Ruin by Andrew S. Fuller

cover of constellations of ruinConstellations of Ruin by Andrew S. Fuller
Trepedatio (April 2023)
246 pages; $18.95 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Andrew S. Fuller is a fiction author who grew up climbing trees and reading books, later dabbling in archery, theater, and heavy metal. He once stared at the waters of Loch Ness for nearly twelve full minutes, but his family made him leave early. His fiction appears in magazines, anthologies, and a few short films. His screenplay Effulgence won the Deep One Best Screenwriter Award at the 2009 H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival. He has served as Editor of Three-Lobed Burning Eye magazine since 1999. His debut short fiction collection, Constellations of Ruin, is a solid debut collection with over 20 stories of weird, speculative horror. 

As the book title would indicate, Fuller’s fiction is clearly rooted in science fiction, but it’s a dark, weird science fiction that leads to unsettling endings. For example, “Elizabeth’s Duty” focuses on a man who works with a trained octopus for the U. S. Government. Told in scenes and fragments, readers soon learn that the two of them are part of a team sent to negotiate with people from Atlantis. At some point, the president of the United States dies of a zebra mussel infestation, and the world goes from cozy science fiction to the story of an invasion. The ending is raw and poignant, and more hopeful than one might expect from a sci-fi horror short story. With that in mind, this is really solid storytelling, with parallel plots woven into a tight, ten-page package. 

Fuller doesn’t only focus on science fiction. There are some surreal and bizarre stories in here, too, some only a few pages in length, that really throw the reader for a loop. For example, “Block Party” isn’t even two full paragraphs, but the penultimate paragraph catches the reader out of nowhere, and the rest of the story twists and squirms from there until the reader is completely unsettled. In “Perched,” we’re given the perspective of a Gothic character, but it’s not until about halfway through the tale, the end of page one of two, that we understand who is speaking and what, exactly, is occurring in the story. Once we know who is speaking, the rest of the story is steeped in haunting and shadow. To unsettle readers using so few words and so little language is an impressive skill to have.

Clearly Andrew S. Fuller is no stranger to speculative fiction, especially weird and horror fiction. A quick look at the acknowledgements in the back of the book show that he has a long track record of publication. So it should come as no surprise that this book is not just entertaining, but masterfully crafted, as well.  Any reader of horror short fiction, especially sci-fi horror, will thoroughly enjoy Constellations of Ruin.

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