GRAVITY WELLS: Speculative Fiction Stories

James Alan Gardner, Author . Eos $15.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-008770-8

American SF buffs will welcome Canadian author Gardner's highly intelligent first story collection. "Muffin Explains Teleology to the World at Large," which won the Aurora Award, is as witty as the title implies. "Kent State Descending the Gravity Well: An Analysis of the Observer" deals provocatively with the media's distortion of history, even for eyewitnesses. The large cast of "The Last Day of the War, with Parrots," set in the League of Worlds, at times slows the pace, but not at the cost of vivid characterization. "Hardware Scenario G-49," written for the Clarion Workshop, manages to convey an intense emotional impact almost without action. The quasi-fantastic "Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream" explores a crisis of faith arising from the invention of the microscope and the scientific and medical progress it made possible. "Sense of Wonder" is a good example of that difficult form, a story entirely in dialogue. Like the author's most recent novel, Radiant , these speculative tales can be heavy going, but they're all absorbing. Agent, Richard Curtis. (May 10)

Reviewed on: 03/14/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
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