A Tupolev Too Far: And Other Stories

Brian W. Aldiss, Author
Brian W. Aldiss, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-312-10565-5
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SF master Aldiss ( Remembrance Day ) brings a slick prose style and sardonic British eye to his impeccably structured short stories. This new collection contains 11 pieces from the past five years, plus ``Confluence,'' which first appeared in 1967. It ranges from tales sparked by a literary premise, such as ``Summertime Was Nearly Over'' (told by Frankenstein's monster) and ``Better Morphosis'' (in which a cockroach awakens to find he's Franz Kafka), to ``Alphabet of Ameliorating Hope,'' a poetic evocation of utopia. Like many writers of his generation--his first collection appeared in 1957--Aldiss often focuses on the alienating conditions of modern life: in the title story, a traveler from an alternative universe where the World Wars never happened is horrified to find himself transported temporarily to our own, ``the dreadful shadow world where history had taken a wrong turn.'' ``FOAM'' uses the device of a memory-stealing technique to underline the shortsighted stupidity of a society riddled with meaningless armed conflicts; in ``North of the Abyss,'' a company man confronts the pettiness of his life on a journey into the ancient Egyptian underworld. Aldiss's talents make this gathering a feast for readers who like their science fiction leavened with thoughtfulness and an amiable, intelligent wit. (Feb.)
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