cover image The World of Dew and Other Stories

The World of Dew and Other Stories

Julian Mortimer Smith. Indiana University, $18 trade paper (162p) ISBN 978-0-253-05680-1

Smith’s enjoyable debut collection brings together 18 science fiction and fantasy stories, though the fantasy far outshines the sci-fi. The enchanting fairy tale “The Washerwoman and the Troll,” for example, showcases Smith’s ability to create refined and immersive worlds, while sci-fi pieces, including the lackluster title story, fall back on technical jargon and excessive exposition (“We speak to one another in Freighttongue, a simple and exceptionally stable language. It’s full of redundancies and evidentials and metalinguistic tags that stop it from evolving“). Common motifs across both genres include pregnant girlfriends, grade school bullies, and escape. Smith is best in his shortest works, among them “Barb-the-Bomb and the Yesterday Boy,” a hard-hitting piece about the young narrator’s crush on a strange boy; “Anxiety Boy and the Confidence Men,” about a ninth grader who acquires a superpower to avoid schoolyard beatings and minor embarrassments; and “Hospice,” a powerhouse flash fiction piece about a banshee wailing as a harbinger of death. Fans of science fiction will be unimpressed, but fantasy lovers should seek this out.[em] (Apr.) [/em]