cover image Vanishing Acts

Vanishing Acts

. Tor Books, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86962-5

Long-time fiction editor of Omni and editor (with Terri Windling) of the annual Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Datlow is one of the most respected anthologists of speculative fiction. Here she assembles a diverse and thoughtful array of 16 stories written around the theme of endangered species--be they human or animal, mythical or alien. In her introduction Datlow writes, ""The stories that most influence me are the gentle persuaders... those that are so engrossing and well-told that the reader doesn't realize they've been poleaxed until the story is done."" That philosophy is borne out by such compelling works as Suzy McKee Charnas's ""Listening to Brahms,"" where the last remaining humans find themselves preserved as ""living history"" by a race of benevolent and all-too imitative aliens. In ""The Girl Who Loved Animals"" by Bruce McAllister, a retarded girl's determination to carry a gorilla fetus to term becomes a powerful story about motherhood. Refusing to be exploited, Nature fights back in Paul J. McAuley's ""The Rift"" and Brian Stableford's ""Tenebrio."" David Schow's dark little ""Blessed Event"" and M. Shayne Bell's ""The Things About Benny"" lend a bit of humor to the proceedings. Karen Joy Fowler's marvelously subtle ""Faded Roses"" evokes a world of sadness in a single scene, while Avram Davidson's ""Now Let Us Sleep"" tells the woeful tale of alien Yahoos with biting, Swiftian skill. The stories here range from good to unforgettable, and constantly ask readers to question the value and fate of vulnerable species, as well as the true differences between man and animal, human and alien. (June)