Gerard Houarner, Writer
Stories you don't always take home to Mother...


cover art by Shikhar Dixit -- click to visit Shikhar's Web siteGOING POSTAL

The Anthology

Available from: Space & Time


Going postal.

You want to do it. On your way to work, a car cuts you off, the exit you want is closed, you're trapped in a cloud of fumes behind a bus for half an hour, the state troopers catch you using the side of the road as a passing lane. And that's just the beginning. Meetings, co-workers, supervisors, betrayals, frustrations pile up. By the time you get home, you're ready. Aren't you?

Or the kids are crying, the pets bark and mewl for food, the roof is leaking, the neighbors are at the door, the in-laws are on the phone, and your spouse is demanding you perform a non-essential service your two year old twins can do for themselves. Then the repairman comes, the electricity goes out, the Thing in the Oven burns. On it goes. When the sun goes down on that day, you want to lose control. Don't you?

Or maybe you're on the assembly line or in an office, repeating the same task for the ten millionth time. Or home, all alone, watching TV repeats more familiar to you than the names of your brothers and sisters. Or in an alley, feeling the liquor race through your body and your private little acre of pain, burning holes in both, feeding the hurt. You're feeling helpless, hopeless. But there's still some measure of pride left. Just enough to do something, anything, to relieve the pain. You're willing to sacrifice anything, anyone, to make the gods stop toying with your life. You want to release the rage, strike back.

But you don't. You're afraid. You still care about people, yourself, life...

It's happening everywhere, to everybody. In this TV/information highway/multi-tasking/multiple-income/consumer-driven/dog-eat-dog age, everyone is becoming just a tad testy. The stress is coming at us from all angles. Too much information is bombarding us, offering too many options.

Or, more likely, there's not enough of the right kind of information and no real choices.

Going postal -- it's not just for postal workers, anymore.

(It never really was, you know. My fellow civil servants just got stuck with the "disgruntled" tag. It's a stereotype, probably initiated by a cute newspaper headline. Now they're dealing with the consequences: eighteen page Postal Service management memos about the deleterious effects of the using the phrase in the work place; a "going postal" cover story in the magazine Postal Life; sitcom punch lines; a novel, a cartoon collection, this anthology. And they're such nice folks. Just like anybody else working for a living. Which is, of course, the point.)

Yes, going postal can happen to anybody, and it can mean more than just picking up that shotgun you have stowed in the back of the closet and letting loose on the local community school board. Just read the seventeen stories that follow. They don't all take place in the here and now. They're not all blood and guts, gloom and doom. There are some surprises and strange little diversions on the road to postal insanity. It is my hope that encountering the unexpected and experiencing a slight moment of shock will elevate the potential postal perpetrator in all of us above the grinding stress pattern from which madness erupts. A flash of wonder, a taste of mystery, perhaps even a little ripple of laughter, and the threat of something terrible happening will dissipate. Trust me. Nothing spells relief like s-t-o-r-y. After all, I have to live out here with you guys.

You can put the gun down, now.

Gerard Houarner
The Bronx, April, 1997
© Gerard Houarner 1998


"Spellchecked" by Daniel Pearlman
"Life With Father" by Bentley Little
"The Van" by Gordon Linzner
"Legion" by Charlee Jacob
"Nietzsche Soothes Fishboy Lenny" by Tom Piccirilli
"Incident At Mile 51" by Roy L. Post
"The Butler" by Robin Spriggs
"Talent Scout" by Milton Wheeler
"Neighbors" by John B. Rosenman
"Empty Spaces" by Andrew Tokash
"Sweet" by Melanie Tem
"The Last Beep" by Don Webb
"The Jungle" by James Dorr
"Jinn" by J.A. Pollard
"One Last E-Ticket Ride" by Dominick Cancilla
"Boo!" by Linda D. Addison
"Toon-Boy" by Michael D. Winkle
"Conejo Por Lunchay" by Eliot Fintushel
"Email Lament" by K.L. Hasell


An anthology with but a single subject -- yet a fascinating one... Buy this book as a manual in modern survival training and as an assortment of Hitchcockian shivers."
Asimov's Science Fiction reviewer Paul Di Filippo, review of Going Postal

The stories are much more varied than in most original anthologies: there are a lot of excellent ones... The quality level here is as high or higher than in most anthologies from major publishers.
SF Chronicle review of Going Postal

Houarner has done an excellent job selecting stories that make you wonder if you're next in line for going off the deep end. Some stories are delightfully wicked...downright'll find plenty to like in this collection.
Talebones review of Going Postal

Gerard Houarner's vision for this book did not stop with the obvious entrapments, but include twisted, surprising moments of unraveling madness. ...delivers their own unique sharpness of what dropkicks someone over the edge. Going Postal contains unique and delicately unexpected ways people can control under daily duress, and you will be engrossed and touched by each piece.
Pirate Writings review of Going Postal
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