cover image Voyages by Starlight

Voyages by Starlight

Ian R. MacLeod. Arkham House Publishers, $25.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-87054-171-1

In stride with MacLeod's haunting first novel (The Great Wheel; Forecasts, June 30) comes this first collection of his acclaimed short fiction. The 10 stories included here combine elements of horror, fantasy, SF and realistic fiction as expressed by an assured literary voice. Settings range from the future (""Starship Day""; ""The Perfect Stranger""; ""Papa"") to a present-day world identical to ours except for the existence of dream telepathy (""Ellen O'Hara,"" a story of the Irish Troubles). ""Grownups"" presents a culture of three sexes (men, women and uncles), and ""The Giving Mouth"" takes place in a fantasy landscape of mining, coal and smoke, where knights in animated armor ride steamhorses made of ""liveiron."" In all the tales, the fantastic blends seamlessly with the realistic. Above all, the stories focus on people, relationships and the human condition, which MacLeod imagines as melancholy and fatalistic (""Marnie"") or horrific (""1/72nd Scale""). MacLeod's originality enriches and enlivens the genre, and his fiction--though often grim--should be read by everyone looking for something that is truly out of the ordinary. (Aug.)