The Perseids and Other Storiesr Vinge

Robert Charles Wilson, Author
Robert Charles Wilson, Author Tor Books $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-87374-5
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Winner of Canadian SF's Aurora Award, Wilson (Darwinia) is best known in the States for his novels, so this brief collection of short stories will come as a pleasant surprise to many readers. Three of the nine stories here are new; all are linked by their connection (slight in several cases, crucial in others) to Finders, a unique secondhand bookstore where characters frequently find items crucial to their destinies. As one character describes it, Finders ""fostered meaningful coincidence... the way a houseplant attracts gnats."" The lead story, ""The Fields of Abraham,"" introduces the owner of Finders, a young man whose gift for chess creates his means of escape from a hopeless life. Aliens onstage and off figure prominently in ""The Perseids"" and ""The Observer."" Metaphysical journeys reveal surprising inner landscapes in ""The Inner Inner City"" and ""Plato's Mirror,"" and the inner lives of ants and cats underscore ""Ulysses Sees the Moon in the Bedroom Window"" and the chilling ""Protocols of Consumption."" ""Divided by Infinity"" presents a man trapped by his ability to shift between two worlds. The closing tale, ""Pearl Baby,"" is a straightforward horror story. Wilson's slow-building, many-layered yarns shape characters out of the raw materials of loneliness and intellectual isolation. Readers in search of thoughtful, resonant writing will enjoy this collection of urban fantasies.
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