The Dragons of Springplace

Robert Reed, Author Golden Gryphon Press $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-9655901-6-7
Like Reed's 1997 novel Beneath the Gated Sky, these 11 short stories, all written since 1993 and originally published in Asimov's or the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, soar into boldly realized starscapes and plunge into profound human heartaches. With clean, convincing story lines, Reed moves easily from near-future encounters with alien visitors, as in his ingenious treatment of crop circles in ""To Church with Mr. Multhiford"" and the ominous avian roadrunner from an alternative Earth in ""Stride,"" to humanity's far-future cosmic voyages, as in ""Chrysalis,"" ""Guest of Honor,"" ""Aeon's Child"" and ""The Remoras."" Sympathetic characterizations of underdog heroes and alien or android antagonists alike flesh out the common theme of this collection: a victimized outsider survives and prevails not by cunning or brute strength, but through compassion. Reed is particularly adroit at conveying the stupidity of war, another of his major concerns, and the sadistic collective urge to destroy weak, sick or merely ""different"" members of the human pack, as in the remarkably poignant ""Waging Good,"" a startling glimpse of post-nuclear devastation. ""Aeon's Child"" falters slightly because of a conflict almost too vast to imagine, but most of these stories turn expertly upon a gasp of epiphany, the recognition that in undreamed-of futures, galactic deeps or a neighboring cornfield lies undeniable truth about what makes us human. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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