cover image Northern Suns

Northern Suns

Piers Anthony, Julie Brady. Tor Books, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86461-3

Gathering a stellar array of 22 SF stories penned by either native Canadians or writers who simply prefer to publish there, this is a worthy companion volume to Northern Stars (1994). Wesley Herbert displays a compelling cyberpunk sensibility in ""Twilight of the Real,"" a futuristic, noirish story about a PI who discovers why Earth's few remaining humans are turning themselves into ""mechniks."" In the humorous horror tale ""Farm Wife,"" Nancy Kilpatrick writes about a woman's pragmatic attitude to her husband's vampirism. Geoff Ryman (""Fan"") shows how today's reclusive pop star may be tomorrow's elusive hologram, while in ""Freeforall,"" Margaret Atwood foresees another reactionary society not too far removed from that of The Handmaid's Tale--one in which rampant sexual disease leads to arranged matings and contract marriages brokered by post-feminist ""house mothers."" Sally McBride offers a more romantic, if equally unsettling, tale (""The Fragrance of Orchids"") that proves that redemption can be found in the arms of a stranger, even if it comes from light years away and isn't human. W.P. Kinsella presents a short and sweet meditation on the Japanization of North America (""Things Invisible to See""), while Michael Skeet unveils an alternate history set in the Civil War (""Near Enough to Home""). Like its predecessor, this volume, with stories reprinted from assorted books and magazines, showcases with style the best of Canadian SF. (Apr.)