All these things are in Phillip McCollum’s short story A Nuclear Family. I can’t really explain how they all fit together without spoiling the whole deal, but what I can do is praise McCollum’s gift for telling a tale. Remember, this is a man who once wrote 52 short stories in a year.
The same blend of teenage tech culture and mysterious goings-on uncovered by the youth of California that formed the theme of McCollum’s The Almost-Apocalypse of Apple Valley are present, but in a more potent, concentrated form. McCollum’s skill at concisely telling a good story is on full display, as is his way with words:
“I was way past wondering if what we’d done was a smart thing–it wasn’t. The question, now, was did we do the dumb thing smartly?”
A question familiar to anyone who has ever been a teenager, I’m sure.
A Nuclear Family is a gripping and suspenseful short story, that keeps you off balance from the start and doesn’t let up. It’s like a Hitchcock movie, updated to the ’90s and in literary form. A Phillip McCollum Special, through and through.