cover image The Best of Walter Jon Williams

The Best of Walter Jon Williams

Walter Jon Williams. Subterranean, $45 (616p) ISBN 978-1-64524-002-0

Best-known for space operas, Williams (Fleet Elements) showcases his versatility in this impressive collection of 12 stories, whose wide-ranging subjects include a superhero-supervillain battle in the Old West (“The Golden Age”) and a moving account of a child who learns that his world isn’t want he believed it to be (“Daddy’s World”). In perhaps the most ambitious and memorable entry, “The Green Leopard Plague,” Williams concocts a griping plot involving an ape turned mermaid, a mystery surrounding an influential academic, copyright police, Sovietism after the fall of the Soviet Union, and ethnic cleansing. Fans of Williams’s Praxis series will also welcome “Margaux,” a taut prequel that provides the complex backstory of a major character in those books, and which maintains suspense even for those who already know how it will end. Across every entry, Williams displays his superior prose, an ability to craft well-rounded worlds, and a facility for creating engagement and empathy in readers, whether for a recognizable human character or an alien intelligence. This stellar volume should grow Williams’s devoted fan base. (Feb.)