Read about the creepiest corner of the technology in Reality and Other Stories

John Lanchester's book cover. Photo credit: W.W. Norton

“Humans can get haunted by a selfie stick,” writes British journalist and novelist John Lanchester in Reality, and Other stories, a collection of ghost stories about the overwhelming power technology has over humans. The stories explore the scary side of the internet.

In the eight stories in Reality, and Other stories, Lanchester’s purpose was to entertain and take the reader into a different world in order to help readers realize what reality we live in.

Lanchester’s first story starts with a lesson in etiquette where the narrator says to his nine-year-old son: “You are not allowed to ask for the Wi-Fi password before you say hello.”

The first story, Signal, is about a family of four who lives in a modern house with all the technology you can think of: phones, iPads, laptops and, of course Disney +. The tech keeps the children occupied. The family visits a house where there is a peculiar man who never talks but happens to be quite helpful, especially with kids when the parents are not present.

Lanchester was very cautious with the way he was presenting the people in the story, especially the tall, unhappy-looking man who never looks up from his phone.

Lanchester then surprises us with an unexpected ending.

The next story is called “Coffin Liquor,” which refers to a byproduct of corpse liquefaction. The story is about an economics professor who is at a conference in Romania for a week. He explains everything around him, from talking to the customer service to the haunted audiobook.

“Cold Call” is about a mother, two children and an absent father. Things get out of hand when the mother hangs up on her father-in-law whom she hates just before his death. That is when a series of phone calls will not let her forget what she did. Lanchester surprises again with a twist.

In Reality, and Other stories, Lanchestrer provides readers with eight different and unique examples of his storytelling approach, which will surely cause readers to seek out more examples of his work, which is extensive.

Those already familiar with the writer will also find much to love in this particular book if they can overcome any genre hesitancy they might possess when it comes to horror.

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