HEAT OF FUSION: And Other Stories

John M. Ford, Author . Tor $24.95 (366p) ISBN 978-0-312-85546-8

These 23 stories and poems reaffirm Ford's position as one of SF's most versatile craftsmen. They range in tone from the playful "The Hemstitch Notebooks," with its musings on the perils of men shopping, to the stunningly serious "Chromatic Aberration," in which Ford invents new colors of the future while pondering the end of the ancient world. He also ponders death with Gene Wolfe elegance ("The Persecutor's Tale") and a dark wit worthy of Philip K. Dick ("Heat of Fusion" and "Preflash"). He deals admirably with a harrowing haunted house in "Tales from the Original Gothic," and brings life to the weary werewolf theme in "Shelter from the Storm." The misses are few: the too tongue-in-cheek "Erase/Record/Play: A Drama for Print" and the self-indulgent poems "The Lost Dialogue: A Reconstruction from Irrecoverable Sources" and "The Man in the Golden Mask." The best poems include the breathless science exercise "Cosmology: A User's Manual"; "Winter Solstice, Camelot Station," the only poem to win a World Fantasy Award for best short fiction; and the delightful "SF Clichés: A Sonnet Cycle," which reminds those in pursuit of immortality that "You do not want to live, who do not live." A 9/11-themed poem, "110 Stories," provides a fine closure to an excellent collection. (Mar. 25)

Forecast: Aficionados who've been waiting for Ford's best short fiction to be collected under one cover will snap this one up, though hard SF and traditional fantasy fans will likely find his sensibility too edgy, too aloof, for their tastes. Ford is the author of the World Fantasy Award–winning alternative history The Dragon Waiting (1983), as well as bestselling Star Trek novels.

Reviewed on: 01/26/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-312-86939-7
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