by M. Bobowski
energy is the energy that holds a system together, that keeps its parts
from going their separate ways. In a bound system, the potential energy
of the whole is less than that of the sum of its parts. It's an odd
title for a collection. (It's also apt, but I'll come back to that
Binding Energy is
also the title of one of the stories in the collection, the
reminiscences of a physicist in his twilight years, and well suited to
it. Marcus's interweaving of contemporary American history with the
humanity of Emil, in all his humiliation and injured dignity and past
glory, are its backbone, but the use of present tense and
unconventional punctuation obfuscate rather than accentuate the
wonderful story underneath. It reads like an experiment in style, but
that lack of subtlety is rare in this collection.
of the stories in Binding
Energy are more conventional in form, and my favorites are
Marcus's more recent work. That same willingness to experiment is
evident, though less obtrusive. In An
Orange for Lucita, one of the things that makes it stand
out is the distinctive voice of the first-person narration. It's also a
departure in theme, leaving the more traditional stomping grounds of
the genre in favor of something more like magical realism.
doesn't appear to be a trend away from futurism in Marcus's newer
stories though. Love in
the Time of Connectivity, Echo Beach and Halfway House (my
favorite story in this collection) are all very much science fiction.
But that doesn't mean that Marcus is static, either; his newer work
clearly displays more originality and unique vision than his more
thematically conventional earlier stories. It's a pleasure to see how
his work has evolved and bodes well for the future.
to the title--and its strange appropriateness. The individual stories
that make up the collection Binding
Energy are stellar. Each one, taken by itself, is a
delight. But you can't consume them too closely together or they begin
to lose their flavor. To read Binding
Energy all at once is to overindulge and begin to find
faults that are not faults with the individual stories, that are not
really faults at all, but idiosyncrasies of Marcus's style. Like the
detailed menu of what various characters consume at various meals. It
doesn't detract from any given story, but taken as a whole through the
collection, it became tedious.
would recommend Binding
Energy to anyone that enjoys science-fiction and fantasy,
and perhaps more importantly, to those that are not adamant fans of the
genre. Daniel Marcus doesn't just write for genre fans; the appeal of
his stories lies in the quality of his writing and the humanity of his
characters, as well.
Read one of Daniel Marcus'
stories on DanielMarcus.com.
lives with her much-suffering cat and extremely patient boyfriend in
northern Sweden. She is currently working on either an extremely
disjointed novel or an exceptionally cohesive short story collection.
Publisher: Elastic Press
Marcus has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a
finalist for the John W. Campbell Award. His stories have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Asimov's Science
Fiction, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Realms of Fantasy
and his non-fiction has been published in Boing-Boing, Wired,
and other venues.
with Daniel Marcus
Buy this book (used or
Publisher's Website: Elastic Press
forget your local booksellers and independent book shops! Visit IndieBound.org to find an independent bookstore near
you in the US
you liked this book you might also like....
M. John Harrison "Things That Never Happen"
other reviewers thought: