The Best of Michael Swanwick
Michael Swanwick, . . Subterranean, $38 (469pp) ISBN 978-1-59606-178-1
More than a quarter century’s worth of short fiction is gathered in this comprehensive collection of stories from Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award–winner Swanwick. The tales run the gamut from strict space adventures like “The Very Pulse of the Machine” to deceptively complex ghost stories like “Radio Waves.” In “The Feast of Saint Janis,” Janis Joplin is worshiped as an ancient goddess made flesh, with all the power and pitfalls that accompany the role. The more surreal pieces—such as “Mother Grasshopper,” wherein wizards chase one another across an insect the size of a planet—nonetheless have a method to their madness, and though it would be easy for alien monster shorts like “A Midwinter’s Tale” to dissolve into self-conscious silliness, even the weaker setups conclude with a bang. Swanwick’s blend of savvy science fiction, Freudian fantasy and top-notch storytelling both chills and charms.
Reviewed on: 08/11/2008