Review: “The Elvis Room” by Stephen Graham Jones

1 of 5 stars.

Enacting a disservice to both the scientific process and the field of experimental psychology, this tale skews the fundamentals of the scientific method beyond logic and recognition. Whether the smearing is an intentional slight against the main character and speaker that purports to be a professor of psychology, or is a general misunderstanding of how hypotheses are tested and retested, or is a blatant disregard for the sake of plot, is all left unclear.

The tale is rooted in the paranormal, or supernatural, ie ghosts. Ghost stories can be fun, or haunting, or sad and moving, when they reside within the parameters of fantasy, urban legends, or folk tales. The scientific method, which would be fully understood by a professor of psychology, cannot be manipulated for the sake of plot without jeopardizing the integrity of the telling.

The protagonist starts off researching phobias. A patient with a fear of the dark feels haunted by a womb-twin that was never born. This leads to a discovery of a measurably sensed entity in the room with the patient–proof of a ghost. This leads to research in the hypothesis of the Elvis room which states that if a hotel books the last available room, someone in the hotel is going to die. The speaker aims to test this theory. As science is left further behind, the scientist jumps from one hypothesis to the next with scant connection, such as ghosts congregate in places with lots of people such as hotels . . .

“The Elvis Room” appears in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror: 2015 edited by Paula Guran and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in The Elvis Room (This Is Horror).
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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