In Harlan Ellison's "Never Send to Know for Whom the Lettuce Wilts" meet the alien "unie" whose job it is to conquer Earth in some very peculiar ways.
Bruce Sterling's "In Paradise" is a romantic adventure initiated by security screenings.
The talent referred to in Albert F. Cowdrey's "The Boy's Got Talent" is enough to get any young man into serious trouble.
"Creation" by Jeffrey Ford addresses the relationship of men to gods in a uniquely down home manner.
If you've ever felt a shiver down your spine, as if you were being watched, watch out for the late Damon Knight's "Watching Matthew," where a whole life spreads out in fast forward.
Robert Sheckley's "Shoes" is a noirish thriller that gives new meaning to the phrase "down at the heels."
In "Presence," Maureen McHugh explores the implications of an experimental and unsettling treatment for Alzheimer's with compassion and courage.
"Our Friend Electricity" by Ron Wolfe is a dizzying Coney Island roller coaster ride in time and space.
Esther M. Friesner's latest tour de force, "Just Another Cowboy," is set in Texas, and suggests an interesting possibility for the source of certain classical myths.
And last, in another mythically alternative reality, M. Rickert's "Leda" tries to adjust to the emotional and physical consequences of a rape.
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"Great Writing - Mediocre Plots"
First of all, I do have to say that the writing (merely as a form of art) in this collection is really good. In particular, "Watching Matthew" and "Just Another Cowboy" were very well written - very valuable lessons for how to write effectively.
My complaint here is echoed by another reviewer - that the plots really are mediocre in most cases here. For those used to really great Science Fiction ("The Veldt" or "A Sound Like Thunder" by Bradbury, "The Head" by Robert Bloch or "The Sentinel" by Arthur C. Clarke for example), these just don't hold their own. There are exceptions however - "Shoes", while probably the shortest story in the collection, is an excellent story as is "The Boy's Got Talent". Both have pretty decent plots. And even though the plot of "Just Another Cowboy" wasn't stellar, the writing was so good that I caught myself laughing over and over during the read.
"Presence" and "Watching Matthew" were both almost a little like reading Stephen King - both were well written, but just didn't really go anywhere.
It wasn't that I thought this book wasn't worth it, but more a disappointment that there wasn't more depth to the stories themselves. Also, I would say that those strictly labeled as "Science Fiction" stories were in the minority.
My recommendation: Don't necessarily pass over this one, but just be aware that this isn't an anthology of classics. I was glad I'd downloaded it - just wished everything was at the level of the better stories.
Don't waste your time with this one. I listened to some earlier parts of this series which were pretty good, but this one was just plain boring.
I thoroughly enjoyed this selection of stories from ?The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction?. The stories and the readings where excellent, and I fully intend to purchase the rest of the 2003 releases.
Like most short story compilations by various authors, about half the stories were quite good, and the rest were complete crap. Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing which are which without listening to them. At least the writing was good-to-great in all of them, and the narrating was well done.
These stories were each and every one a pleasure.
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