The premise of The Uncanny Valley is that a radio station in central Pennsylvania launched a campaign to compile stories and personal accounts from small town citizens that showcase the culture of their hometowns. Supposedly, thirty-three entries came from the same unheard-of town called Uncanny Valley, which may or may not have ever existed on a map, and the tales they tell are singular and incredible. Those stories are collected in this book, written in thirty-three individual voices belonging to the residents of this ethereal town.
It would be easy to categorize this as a collection of ghost stories, except that so many of them are about living, breathing people who stay that way, albeit usually with some kind of transformation. Rather, this is a series of distinctly peculiar tales that add on one another to create a composite view of a remarkable town and its denizens. In bite-sized installments, none of the stories more than a few pages long, we are taken on a journey through the strange and wondrous annals of the Uncanny Valley. The fictional small town setting serves as a microcosm, within which rules we live by are bent at will and nothing is more certain than uncertainty.
Miller manages his large cast of characters adeptly, successfully transitioning between old and young, male and female, corporeal and not. Their personal tales are deftly interwoven, giving credence to their existence as neighbors, family, and friends. It’s fun to see characters who gave testimony earlier in the book appear in the third person walking in and out of their friends’ accounts. Frankly, I was waiting for some historical or character discrepancy to surface, but was pleasantly surprised to find consistency throughout.