Friday, March 21, 2014

Ebooks by Roger Zelazny, Dennis Etchison, and a Huge Collection of Time Travel Stories Edited by the VanderMeers

     iBooks has released an ebook edition of Roger Zelazny's short story collection THE LAST DEFENDER OF CAMELOT.  This one includes some terrific mid-career and later work from Zelazny, including the title story, award-winners like "Home Is the Hangman" and "24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai," and more.  No reader of science fiction and fantasy should miss Zelazny's work -- he was one of the finest writers ever to come out of the field.  You'll find the best of his earlier short fiction in the collection THE DOORS OF HIS FACE, THE LAMPS OF HIS MOUTH; that collection includes the classic "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" (described by Theodore Sturgeon as "one of the most beautifully written, skillfully composed and passionately expressed works of art to appear anywhere, ever"), the title story, "The Man Who Loved the Faoli," and others.  The earlier collection isn't available for the Kindle yet, unfortunately, but you can get it in trade paperback (a bit pricey, but worth every penny and more).

     Also available now for Kindle is another collection of short horror stories by Dennis Etchison, THE DEATH ARTIST.  This one includes gems like "The Dog Park" and "No One You Know."  This is the third of his short story collections to be ebooked by Crossroad Press; the others are THE DARK COUNTRY and RED DREAMS.  All three are brimful of grim dark delights.

     And finally, we have THE TIME TRAVELER'S ALMANAC, edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer.  This is a big (close to a thousand pages) collection of time travel fiction, and there is a LOT of good reading gathered here.  That said, I'm of two minds about this one.
     The quibble first.  The strange thing about THE TIME TRAVELER'S ALMANAC is what it omits -- for instance, Heinlein's "All You Zombies" is absent, and there are no selections from Fritz Leiber's Change War stories, ditto Alfred Bester's "Disappearing Act" or "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed," and nothing from Jack Finney, whose "I'm Scared" and "Where the Cluetts Are" (among others) would be ideal selections.  Not only are these writers omitted, but unless I missed a long passage somewhere they go unmentioned in the preface and introduction.  Strange gaps these, in an anthology meant to demonstrate the full range of the time travel story, and I'm surprised to see no recommended reading list on the contents page to fill those gaps.
     End of quibble -- after all, no anthology includes everything and most of the omissions I mentioned will already be familiar to the sf audience.  As I said up front, there's a LOT of good reading here -- classic stories like Kuttner & Moore's "Vintage Season," Matheson's "Death Ship," Sturgeon's "Yesterday Was Monday," and Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" are present, as well as work by writers like Connie Willis, Karen Haber, Gene Wolfe, Joe Lansdale, Norman Spinrad, Nalo Hopkinson, George R. R. Martin, Pamela Sargent, and many more.  The VanderMeers have put together just the kind of great big grab-bag anthology I described a few months ago, and if you like time travel stories you should buy this book immediately; you'll find familiar classics and chances are you'll find quite a few good stories you'd missed reading before.  A must for the sf shelf.
     And in case you missed it, the VanderMeers put together an essential collection of weird fiction a couple of years ago.  Titled, appropriately, THE WEIRD: A COMPENDIUM OF STRANGE AND DARK STORIES, the book covered a century of weird fiction with selections ranging from Lovecraft to Borges, and if you like dark fantasy this one too is a must.

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