, . . Tor, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86780-5
This third in Neilsen Hayden's series of original-story anthologies presents a pleasing range of SF and fantasy, humor and darkness, from an eclectic mix of 16 writers, both familiar and new, covering topics of interest to any SF fan who likes to keep current in the field. A few of the stories are particularly haunting, notably Susan Palwick's touching "Gestella," about a sensitive, intelligent werewolf whose husband/owner grows ever more distant. Madeleine E. Robins's excellent "La Vie en Ronde" explores the circular places behind our linear world as seen through the eyes of the protagonist, Vivey, who suffers from vertigo and is likely mad. The powerful, literate "The Sea Wind Offers Little Relief," by newcomer Alex Irvine, fruitfully combines musings on the nature of reading, epics and heroism and will appeal to academics in particular. Jane Yolen's series of set pieces, "The Barbarian and the Queen: Thirteen Views," offers surprising insights into the nature of, well, barbarians and queens (how about sword-toting exotic dancers and drag queens?). Humor and fantasy are also represented: Cory Doctorow's "Power Punctuation!" is a hilarious epistolary romp through the corporate world, while Andy Duncan's "Senator Bilbo," set in Middle-earth, describes a powerful hobbit's realization that the world has moved on without him. This is a clear snapshot of the SF genre at the turn of the millennium. The fine writing of many of the stories indicates that the genre is as vivid and alive at the beginning of the 21st century as it was in the 20th.
Reviewed on: 06/18/2001