Peter Crowther, Author . Subterranean $40 (239p) ISBN 978-1-931081-85-6

The best of the 12 mostly SF stories in this collection from British author Crowther (The Longest Single Note ) evoke a genuine sense of wonder and offer near-miraculous restoration of hope. The title tale opens with silver spaceships departing an Earth doomed by an approaching asteroid. After some clever insights into modern culture's need for hyperbolic metaphors to understand simple reality, the story meanders into a poignant parable about resurrection and reconnection in a world where "it's impossible to figure out who's dead and who's alive." Somewhere along the way it becomes a gentle encomium to both humanity and the city of New Orleans. The deck of time and fate is shuffled and reshuffled as an assassin seeks to fulfill a contract in the well-crafted, multi-leveled "The Killing of Davis-Davis." Its time-travel theme provides the basis for both compelling action and temporal contemplation. "Setting Free the Daughters of Earth" is less technically accomplished, but no less fascinating with its premise of a drug-dependent future in which only one addictive substance is forbidden: books. Like Ray Bradbury, who is intentionally invoked, Crowther enchants as he tells deceptively simple tales of eternal truths. Agent, Jane Gregory at Gregory & Co. (July 26)

FYI: Crowther is the head of the U.K.'s PS Publishing.

Reviewed on: 05/10/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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