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Tuesday, 31 August 2004
HERE COMES CIVILIZATION: THE COMPLETE SCIENCE FICTION OF WILLIAM TENN, VOLUME 2 (NSFA PRESS)
Mood:  bright
Topic: Book Review
I saw this one in a library display of recent books, and picked it up. The NSFA reprints have been uniformly good, and this was no exception.

William Tenn was Phil Klass, a writer of SF short stories with a satirical flavor. Apparently he is well though of in the field, as Robert Silverberg's introduction piece was several pages long.

Contents:
Here Comes Civilization:
Bernie the Faust
Betelgeuse Bridge
Will You Walk a Little Faster?
The House Dutiful
There Were People on Bikini, There Were People on Attu

The Somewhat Heavy Fantastic:

She Only Goes Out at Night
Mistress Sary
The Malted-Milk Monster
The Human Angle
Everybody Loves Irving Bommer

For the Rent:

A Matter of Frequency
The Ionian Cycle
Hallock's Madness
Ricardo's Virus
The Puzzle of Priipiirii
Dud
Confusion Cargo

Afterword: For the Rent

Beating Time:

The Discovery of Morniel Mathaway
Sanctuary
Me, Myself and I
It Ends With a Flicker
The Girl With Some Kind of Past, And George.
Flirgleflip
Errand Boy
A Lamp for Medusa

Essay: On the Fiction in Science Fiction

Of Men and Monsters

Priests for Their Learning
Soldiers for Their Valor
Counselors for Their Wisdom

My particular favorite was "There were people on Bikini, there were people on Attu"... about another collision with a superior, oh-so-helpful alien race and humanity. I used to live on Adak, which was not so far from the (still somewhat radioactive) Attu.
I'm familiar with SOME of these stories, having read GALAXY and F&SF back in the glory days (Tenn/Klass wrote primarily for GALAXY). Tenn's predominant theme is humor, especially in the context of mankind meeting either a superior race (and coming out on the losing end, usually) or just something totally whacked.
The afterword notes (which are recorded faithfully-- Tenn is still alive and quite spry in his 90s) are worth the price of admission, describing life as a struggling writer in the fifties and early sixties.
Summary: mixed bag, as most short story collections tend to be. However, all of the stories in Volume 2 were a decent read, and all of them made me laugh, despite the high corn factor in a few of them. Tenn is quite artful in how he approaches .. what should we call it, xenophobia? Ethnocentrism? The belief that man is the center of the universe? In any event, this is a great collection and now I'm finding myself wanting Volume 1. I may buy these!



Posted by mrnizz at 3:49 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 31 August 2004 4:02 PM EDT
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Friday, 4 June 2004
THE LOVELY BONES
Mood:  sad
Topic: Book Review
A book by Alice Sebold

Susie Salmon is dead. She is already dead when the book begins; she is narrating her story from Heaven. Her murder, which is portrayed in breezy yet shocking past tense, is related by page 15. The rest of the story revolves around and focuses on the people affected by her abrupt removal from the world. THE LOVELY BONES pulls no punches; we know the murderer, we can see into his mind (via Susie's special powers given to her in the afterlife). Her concern for her family's well being is a major element of the story that follows. Different people handle grief differently, as I've heard before, and Susie's family is starting to unravel under the stress. Using Susie's divine ability to view the world of the living, we see how her father, mother, brother and sister (along with the killer and other characters she did not know) are all changing as the story progresses. The ending is shockingly non-traditional, in that the desired ending doesn't take place.

Sebold's imagery, characterization and plotting are wonderful. LOVELY BONES is a dark, disturbing and sad story. I loved every second of it. Mark my words, we'll see this as a movie one of these days.


Posted by mrnizz at 1:47 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 31 August 2004 4:20 PM EDT
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