LEVIATHAN THREE

Forrest Aguirre, Editor, Jeff VanderMeer, Editor
Forrest Aguirre, Editor, Jeff VanderMeer, Editor . Ministry of Whimsy $21.95 (488p) ISBN 978-1-894815-42-0
Reviewed on: 07/08/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
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Postmodern playfulness and solid storytelling intermingle fluidly in this bountiful third volume of the publisher's genre-bending anthology series. In contrast to previous volumes, whose eclectic contents resisted tidy categorization, the editors have grouped these 21 stories into five different elliptically defined "libraries." As befits a structural scheme that includes a virtual library of books as yet unwritten and a library whose sole volume changes its contents each time the cover is closed, the selections are dominated by themes of impermanence and transformation. James Sallis's elegiac "Up" is set in a world where people disappear once they've reached the limit of their life's possibilities, leaving only shadowy outlines to mark their passing. In Jeffrey Ford's amusingly sentimental "The Weight of Words," a man hires a scientist who has worked out the chemistry of language to adulterate messages to his ex-wife with expressions of affection invisible to the naked eye. Carol Emshwiller, in her delightful "The Prince of Mules," transports a lovestruck woman and the oblivious object of her affection into an enchanted alternate world where identities shift with amusingly unpredictable results. Though many stories are too elusive to register as more than experiments, some—like Brian Stableford's ingenious "The Face of an Angel," in which a plastic surgeon is the unlikely agent of mankind's second fall from grace—are sure to be shortlisted for fiction awards. The variety and ambition of this compilation mandates that lovers of speculative fiction consider it for their own self-defined libraries. (July)

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