cover image Rock On: The Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy Hits

Rock On: The Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy Hits

Edited by Paula Guran. Prime (www.prime-books.com), $15.95 trade paper (384p) IS

This collection of 24 stories, ranging from new works to decades-old Hugo nominees, unevenly evokes rock music%E2%80%99s legacy of pushing boundaries and railing against the establishment ethos. In Lawrence C. Connolly%E2%80%99s evocative %E2%80%9CMercenary,%E2%80%9D sniper and musician Lorcan uncovers a dangerous truth about the mysterious, charismatic singer Bobbie Quicksilver and his guerrilla shows. The other original work, Del James%E2%80%99s %E2%80%9CMourningstar,%E2%80%9D in which the sociopathic lead singer of a death metal band seeks revenge on his brilliant guitarist, is hampered by stilted dialogue, a dubious plot, and one-dimensional characterizations. Most of the reprints retain their poignancy and impact; Michael Swanwick%E2%80%99s bleak and disturbing %E2%80%9CThe Feast of Saint Janis%E2%80%9D (1980) evokes a post-crisis destitute America where a desperate performer is remade into the image of Janis Joplin, and in Poppy Z. Brite%E2%80%99s deliciously creepy %E2%80%9CArise%E2%80%9D (1998), a rocker bequeaths his very peculiar home%E2%80%94among other things%E2%80%94to a washed-up bandmate. Despite the sometimes inconsistent quality and nature of the stories, this diverse collection will appeal to most rock-and-roll and genre fans. (Oct.)