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From the December 1998 Locus

Starfarers, Poul Anderson (Tor 10/98) Relativistically realistic space flight adds vast distances of time and space to this visionary account of a mission to find the source of alien signals thousands of light-years away and return to a much-changed Earth.

Moonseed, Stephen Baxter (HarperPrism 10/98) A planet-eating threat from outer space chews up the scenery in more ways than one in this spectacular technothriller of disaster and moon colonization.

Dragon, Steven Brust (Tor 10/98) Popular assassin Vlad Taltos returns in a new/old fantasy adventure, a flashback to an old battle giving an unusual, assassin's-eye view of life in the trenches.

Parable of the Talents, Octavia E. Butler (Seven Stories 10/98) The Earthseed philosophy/religion of man's destiny in space gains momentum even as ultra right-wing forces bring new nightmares to the world in this powerful sequel to Parable of the Sower.

The Gilded Chain, Dave Duncan (Avon Eos 10/98) Fantasy mixes with swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of The Three Musketeers in this lively tale of a master swordsman magically bound to service, first to a fop, then to a king.

Smoke and Mirrors, Neil Gaiman (Avon 10/98) This impressive collection, an expanded version of the small-press Angels & Visitations, shows off Gaiman's talent for clever short fiction, ranging from horror to humor, fairy tale to crazed pastiche.

Stardust, Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess (DC Comics/Vertigo 10/98) Extensive color illustrations by Vess add lyrical charm to Gaiman's magical novel of a young man's quest for a fallen star in faerie.

Noir, K.W. Jeter (Bantam Spectra 10/98) Ex-cop McNihil prefers to view the world through a virtual b&w overlay of the 1940s, a nod to classic noir hard-boiled detection, in this allusive murder mystery of ruthless corporations, the living dead, and the dark sexual underground of glitzy near-future L.A., apparently an extension of the world of Jeter's Dr. Adder.

The Path of Daggers, Robert Jordan (Tor 10/98) Avid fans, waiting with bated breath for this eighth book of epic fantasy series ''The Wheel of Time'', will find major developments are few this time, but the series, with its massive scope, has an irresistible juggernaut force for its followers.

Extremities, Kathe Koja (Four Walls Eight Windows 10/98) A powerful collection of haunting stories of human extremes insanity, perversity, art, and obsession by a highly-acclaimed horror writer.

Judgment of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959, Kim Newman (Carroll & Graf 10/98) Dracula visits late-'50s Rome for a little of la dolce vita, but murders and an undead James Bond complicate matters in this third volume of Newman's off-beat, and always entertaining, vampire alternate history.

Starlight 2, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, ed. (Tor 10/98) The second volume in what promises to be an influential anthology series (the first won the World Fantasy Award), with 13 provocative, all-original stories.

The Collector of Hearts, Joyce Carol Oates (Dutton 10/98) Subtitled ''New Tales of the Grotesque'', this collection brings together 27 stories of nightmare and dread by a celebrated author respected by both mainstream and genre.

Burning Sky, Rachel Pollack (Cambrian Publications 10/98) This complete collection of Pollack's short fiction brings to light little-known stories by an acclaimed ''alternative'' writer whose wry, unorthodox works mix the best elements of SF, fantasy, and magical realism.

The Perfect Host: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon Volume V, Theodore Sturgeon (North Atlantic 10/98) This latest volume in the definitive collection of Sturgeon's short fiction moves into 1947-'49, a more-successful period that includes some classic stories while still providing previously uncollected and two previously unpublished works.

The Cleft and Other Odd Tales, Gahan Wilson (Tor 10/98) Though best known as master of the cartoon-macabre, Wilson writes fiction in the same vein, here showcased in a collection of 23 pieces, illustrated (of course!) by the the master himself.

The One-Armed Queen, Jane Yolen (Tor 10/98) Magic takes a back seat to convincingly complex characters and politics in this multidimensional sequel to White Jenna.

Playing God, Sara Zettel (Warner Aspect 10/98) An interesting almost-all-female alien society provides a solid core for this tale of a corporation's attempts to save a war-torn world while doubts and paranoia on all sides set off violence and destruction.

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