Flying in the Heart of the Lafayette Escadrille

James Van Pelt. Fairwood (www.fairwoodpress.com), $17.99 trade paper (308p) ISBN 978-1-933846-34-7
Van Pelt’s fourth collection (after The Radio Magician and Other Stories) contains 23 examples of his deft, imaginative science fiction and fantasy. Obsession underscores the title story, about the dating troubles of a young man fascinated—and distracted—by WWI planes, and fuels the strange book collector of “Rock House.” “Howl Above the Din,” “Ark Ascension,” and “Far from the Emerald Isle” explore the grim consequences of ecological disaster, both on Earth and in space habitats crammed with desperate survivors. Van Pelt’s personal experience as an educator adds resonance to “Teaching,” “Mrs. Hatcher’s Evaluation,” “Working Pushout,” and the wry zombie-themed “Classroom of the Living Dead,” all stories of teachers faced with unwanted social or technological change. The hauntings in “Night Sweats,” “Savannah Is Six,” and “Father’s Dragon” sweep readers to the spooky end of the genre spectrum. Vivid atmospheres and solid plotting make for satisfying reading. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/24/2012
Genre: Fiction
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