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Profiles of Recent Books
from reviews in Locus Magazine

The Avram Davidson Treasury: A Tribute Collection, Avram Davidson, edited by Robert Silverberg and Grania Davis (Tor 0-312-86729-8, $27.95, 447pp, hc, October 1998) 37 stories and a piece of an unfinished novel, with general introductions by the editors, afterwords by Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, and individual story introductions by many others: Damon Knight, Ursula K. Le Guin, Gregory Benford, Frederik Pohl, etc. -- a different introducer for each story. Davidson was a highly idiosyncratic writer who never gained much recognition during his lifetime but was highly esteemed by his peers. Stories include the Hugo-winning ''Or All the Seas with Oysters'' (paperclips breed into coathangers); ''My Boyfriend's Name Was Jello''; ''Help! I Am Dr. Morris Goldpepper'' (dentists foil an alien invasion); ''Polly Charms, the Sleeping Woman''; and the World Fantasy Award-winning ''Naples''. Gary K. Wolfe writes in the October 1998 Locus that ''several tales in the book [seem] to justify the repeated claim of the story introducers that, in a fairer world, Davidson might have been recognized as one of the major American short story artists of this century.'' Faren Miller, in the same issue, hopes that ''this glorious Treasury will help put matters right, for the reader if not for the magus who created such remarkable tales.''
(Mon 26 Oct 98)
Last Summer at Mars Hill, Elizabeth Hand (HarperPrism 0-06-105348-1, $13.00, 324pp, tp, September 1998) The first short story collection by the author of novels Waking the Moon and Glimmering includes the Nebula and World Fantasy Award-winning title story, in which fairy-like Light Children appear to selected residents of a New England spiritualist community; its thematic companion ''The Erl-King'', about a reclusive rock star who alone can see fairy-tale figures outside his window; and ''Snow on Sugar Mountain'', a tale that juxtaposes the adventures of a lonely, shapechanging orphan with the last days of a reclusive NASA astronaut. Gary K. Wolfe, in the October Locus, sees Hand as ''a short fiction stylist of exceptional grace, and something of a risk-taker as well'', a characteristic of her best work being a contrapuntal dissonance created by ''abducting ancient mythology in the service of contemporary angst''. Wolfe places her ''in the company of Crowley, Le Guin, [Gene] Wolfe, Straub, and a few others who have done much in past years to erase the already arbitrary line between the art story and the genre piece.'' (Mon 26 Oct 98)
Traces, Stephen Baxter (HarperCollins Voyager 0-00-225427-1, £16.99, 359pp, hc, April 1998) 21 stories, originally published between 1988 and 1997, span Baxter's career and cover all his favorite themes: alternate space programs, Victorian pastiches, Clarkean fables. The first category includes the Hugo-nominated ''Moon Six'', in which shifting timelines reveal a series of possible moon landing scenarios. The title story resembles Arthur C. Clarke's classic ''The Star'', while several others are clearly inspired by James Blish's ''pantropy'' stories: evolutionary parables about variant forms of humanity surviving in bizarre environments. Gary K. Wolfe writes in the August Locus that a number of Baxter's stories ''suggest the kind of excited dialogue with earlier SF that seemed common among writers who entered the field in the 1950s, but has become rare in more recent decades.''
(Mon 26 Oct 98)

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Beaker's Dozen, Nancy Kress (Tor 0-312-86537-6, $24.95, 352pp, hc, August 1998) This new collection of 13 stories from 1991 - 1997, many on themes of genetic engineering, is bracketed by two strong novellas: the original Hugo-winning version of ''Beggars in Spain'', about a society of Sleepless, and ''Dancing on Air'', set in the world of ballet and partly told from the point of view of a genetically enhanced dog. In between are ''Fault Lines'' and the Sturgeon Award-winning ''Flowers of Aulit Prison'', stories that achieve a ''smooth integration of fable and Idea ... in a density that makes them feel like condensed novels'', writes Russell Letson in the September 1998 Locus. Letson concludes ''at the top of her form [Kress] is not only one of the most skillful writers in the field, but one of the most interesting hard SF thinkers around, able to connect new technology with old issues, possible futures with inevitable human frailties.'' (Mon 26 Oct 98)

Previous Profiles:
19 Oct 1998:
  • Nicola Griffith and Stephen Pagel's anthology Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction 26 Sep 1998:
  • Stephen King's Bag of Bones
  • Iain M. Banks's Inversions
  • Stephen Baxter's Moonseed

    17 Sep 1998:
  • Brian Stableford's Inherit the Earth
  • Patricia A. McKillip's Song for the Basilisk
  • David Weber's Echoes of Honor
  • Wil McCarthy's Bloom
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    © 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.