Cover image for Use once, then destroy
Use once, then destroy
Williams, Conrad, 1969-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Night Shade Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
240 pages ; 24 cm
The machine -- Supple bodies -- The light that passes through you -- Nest of salt -- City in aspic -- Other skins -- The windmill -- Wire -- The burn -- The owl -- The night before -- Edge -- MacCreadle's bike -- Known -- The suicide pit -- Excuse the unusual approach -- Nearly people.
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The first collection of stories from acclaimed horror writer Conrad Williams.

In a Venice shackled by winter, a serial killer is removing victims' hands.

While on holiday in the Fens of East Anglia, a woman at the end of her tether finds a terrible release.

A man haunted by graffiti finds that the road to discovering the perpetrator leads to death...and worse.

A husband trying to comfort his terminally ill wife seeks help in a forbidden zone from his childhood, where blood is the price of perfection.

Use Once Then Destroy selects award-winning writer Conrad Williams's finest short fiction published between 1993 and 2002, with an additional three stories original to this collection. Within these pages you will also find the International Horror Guild and British Fantasy Society award-nominated novella "Nearly People," in which a woman's search for food in a nightmarish city brings her attention from an enigmatic man known as The Dancer, and leads her to a host of terrible epiphanies.

This spellbinding compilation offers the kind of unsettling horrors that drift into your consciousness and envelop you in an ethereal atmosphere of unease. There are no easy answers to the questions raised in these stories, which explore the scarred outposts of desperation and desire, sickness and death, sex and decay. One thing is certain; Use Once Then Destroy will stay with you long after you've stopped reading.

Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternative history), and horror (zombies, vampires, and the occult and supernatural), and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller, or a Hugo or Nebula award-winner, we are committed to publishing quality books from a diverse group of authors.

Author Notes

Conrad Williams is the award-winning author of seven novels, four novellas, and two collections of short stories. He has won the British Fantasy, August Derleth, and International Horror Guild awards. Williams lives in Manchester with his wife and three sons.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Grunge fantasy and dark fantasy could get little grungier or darker than Williams' grim, dense stories of dysfunction unto death. A hopeless photographer of subway accident victims in a London-like city sees more and more ghosts, until he realizes he is one (The Suicide Pit ). A man searches the same city for a graffitist fixated on one word; all the while, fewer people apparently notice him (Known ). The protagonists of several stories are finally flensed, filleted, or flattened; the most discomfiting thing about these endings is that they seem unpredictable and inevitable. The novella Nearly People returns to pseudo-London in a future when whole sectors are permanently quarantined; the heroine searches for food and to escape, but no one who doesn't peek will anticipate what her out will be. Williams is a word-drunk describer whose prose can become so clotted with colorful, sensual vocabulary that it must be reread to grasp narrative elements, and many readers will feel daunted. But Williams is also a genuine, deeply macabre spellbinder whose admirers will flat out adore him. --Ray Olson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In these 17 mostly urban horror stories from British author Williams (London Revenant), memory is often unreliable and reality is just as untrustworthy. A typical tale edges into the surreal and sometimes the supernatural, then turns to madness and violence. These disturbing fictions pose a great many questions that are, on second thought, perhaps better left unanswered. If violence itself is seldom shown, its immediate aftermath is. Even the tales that seem abruptly truncated or intentionally obscure still leave vivid impressions. In "Nest of Salt," a man obsessively seeks Circus Street, a hidden "blackspot" of London that's a "nexus of filth." In "The Owl," a young British couple expecting their first child settles into a fixer-upper in a small French village. Minor stress is amplified and adroitly twisted into wrenching disaster. The near-future novella "Nearly People," which was nominated for awards by both the British Fantasy Society and the International Horror Guild, depicts a grim quarantined sector whose inhabitants suffer from disease and starvation. A woman there receives a glimpse of hope-or does she? We're rarely sure of anything in these depraved and elegantly ambivalent stories, except that Williams writes with a poetic brutality that definitely makes him a dark voice to note. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved