cover image Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories

Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories

Terry Bisson. Tor Books, $19.95 (254pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85411-9

When Bisson ( Voyage to the Red Planet ) began to publish short fiction a few years ago, his flair and sharp but homey good humor brought him instant celebrity and won him a Nebula Award for the title story in this, his first collection. Immediately clear from this array of stories is the astonishing range of Bisson's talent. Readers turn from ``Bears Discover Fire,'' a meditative tale that blends the irreconcilable sadness of the loss of a loved one with the weirdness of the very literal title, to the delightfully silly ``They're Made Out of Meat,'' a dialogue between two odd aliens about the nature of life on Earth, to the elegaic ``England Underway,'' in which a bookish Englishman confronts the New World, bringing all of England with him. Leavening even his most serious tales with humor, Bisson can deal with issues frequently blighted by stridency: three stories address environmental concerns with a black humor that enhances rather than mitigates their impact. Bisson's prose is a wonder of seemingly effortless control and precision; he is one of science fiction's most promising short story practitioners, proving that in the genre, the short story remains a powerful, viable and evocative form. (Nov.)