Plastic Space House
John F. D. Taff
Trepidatio Publishing (December 1, 2023)
Reviewed by Andrew Byers

I have always thought that just like the fog-shrouded streets of Victorian London are a perfect setting for tales of vampires and serial killers, so is the unwelcoming vacuum of space, far from human civilization and any hope of rescue in the event of an emergency, perfect for stories about cosmic horror, dread, slow-motion doom, and the insignificance of humans. I think John F. D. Taff would agree.

Plastic Space House by John F. D. Taff is a mind-bending journey into the farthest reaches of the cosmos, where reality itself is a malleable and elusive concept. In this enthralling blend of science fiction and cosmic horror, Taff takes readers on an odyssey that challenges our very understanding of existence. It is Taff’s exploration of human consciousness and the nature of reality done via a tragic accident that takes place aboard a spacecraft sent into the depths of space to colonize another world. Here, three survivors from the colony ship Promise—Harlan, Jaime, and El—find themselves adrift in a universe that defies logic and reason.

What sets Plastic Space House apart is its exploration of existential philosophy and cosmic terror. Taff skillfully weaves a narrative that captivates with its suspenseful plot and challenges with its contemplation of the nature of reality and humanity’s role in the universe. The conscious universe’s resistance to humanity’s expansion across the galaxies, fueled by our own fear and isolation, becomes a central theme, elevating the story beyond a typical science fiction thriller.

As the characters attempt to navigate the complexities of the universe, they encounter a literal haunted house in space. Within its confines, the concept of reality becomes fluid and everything is liminal. Taff delves deep into the psychological and cosmic horrors that lurk within the haunted house and the human mind, unleashing a sense of dread that lingers long after the last page is turned.

Plastic Space House is meta in a way that very few books have dared go—you’ll know what I’m talking about when you hit that section—and more psychedelic than even the strangest parts of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Contact. You do need a relatively tolerance for true weirdness, in a reality-warping sense. While the idea of visiting a haunted house in space might vaguely describe a film like Event Horizon, compared to Plastic Space House, that is actually fairly tame and predictable. Here, humans are an aberration in the universe, a disruptive element with vast potential, at least for chaos, and that does not bode well for the protagonists of Plastic Space House.

The narrative is underpinned by Taff’s masterful prose, which expertly conveys the otherworldly and unsettling atmosphere of the story. The pacing is well-executed, maintaining a relentless sense of tension and unease that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

Plastic Space House is a narrative that encourages introspection and contemplation, as it poses profound questions about the nature of existence, fear, and the boundaries of human perception. It’s a journey that leads readers into the darkest corners of the universe and the psyche, challenging their understanding of reality and leaving them haunted by the mysteries of the cosmos.

Plastic Space House is a testament to John F. D. Taff’s ability to merge the profound with the terrifying. It’s a narrative that challenges the very essence of what it means to be human in a vast and incomprehensible universe. For those who seek a thought-provoking and chilling journey into the realms of cosmic horror, this book is a must-read. Prepare to have your perceptions shattered and your imagination stretched to its limits as you venture into the enigmatic and unsettling world of Plastic Space House. Recommended.