The Spectral Link is a short collection of two stories, “Metaphysica Morum” and “The Small People.” They are of wildly different quality and represent two possible directions for Mr. Ligotti’s future work.
Let’s hope his future output is more like “The Small People,” because “Metaphysica Morum” is garbage. Thomas Ligotti, besides being a first-rate fiction writer, is a fourth-rate philosopher. And a fifth-rate writer of suicide notes. Whether “Metaphysica” is supposed to be philosophy or farewell to an uncaring world, there’s one thing it certainly is not: entertaining. Save yourself some trouble, and stare intently into space instead.
That will prepare you for the Smalls, whoever they are.
“The Small People,” by contrast, is Ligotti in top form. The narrator presents a world almost identical to ours: except for the presence of Smalls. Doll-sized mannequin-like creatures who mimic human society, but seem to have no history of their own, most of the “Real People” simply ignore the smalls or avoid them in the way that a man may avoid an annoying bird. “The Small People” works on three levels: the world that’s presented by the narrator, the world the narrator may actually be in, and the metaphors that Ligotti uses to connect the first two layers with the “real” world.
If you are already a Ligotti fan, get the Kindle edition to read “The Small People” in about an hour.