cover image The Devil Delivered and Other Tales

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales

Steven Erikson. Tor, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3002-4

Human evolution ties together%E2%80%94with varying success%E2%80%94the first two novellas in this collection from best-selling author Erikson (Malazan: Book of the Fallen series), while the third is a tall tale inspiring youngsters to engage their imagination. The opener, "The Devil Delivered", is the most successful of the three; set in a dystopian North America of depleted ozone, exhausted resources, and nuclear fall-out, an anthropologist discovers that the human-ravaged Earth appears to have a lot of life left in her. Here, Erikson delivers a stunning alternative view of how the survival of the species does not include room for a supposedly dominant exploiter-class. Moving from anthropology to social satire in "Revolvo", the author stumbles through a jumbled narrative that pokes fun at the inward looking, exclusionary world of art patronage. Erikson over-reaches with his vision of men, as they become artists, morphing into monsters and crushing civilization in the process. "Fishing with Grandma Matchie" is a Paul Bunyan-esque tale that, while entertaining, relies heavily on invented language that quickly loses its charm and spends too much time underlining its message of how children's imaginations are crushed by inflexible education. Erikson's writing, however, is strong throughout, and even the lesser stories reveal a riveting imagination. (June)