by Mark Dalligan
The Twenty-Fifth Annual Meeting
of Uncle Teco’s Homebrew Gravitics Club is such a
promising title but it was the one story in the collection I just
couldn’t come to like. See what you think. Luckily, it’s quite a way
into the book so I was more than armoured by the fresh and fantastic
offerings this Hugo winner has for his readers. I can’t
recommend more highly the fourteen remaining stories that span as many
worlds. Believe me, as an SF & Fantasy fan for close to a light
year, from me this is high praise.
My favourites are:
Nucleon: a Golden
Age story which in some respects favourably reminded me of Clifford D.
Simak’s 1959 Hugo winner The
Big Front Yard. Imagine a sentient scrap yard choc-a-bloc
full of whatever you need, when you need it. Imagine the place isn’t
bounded by time so you could find just anything among the junk, even
remnants from the future. Wouldn’t that be a kind of Heaven? Couldn’t
association with it change your perspective on life?
Brotherhood is a
critical portrait of tensions running high in an American steel town in
the 1930s. The focal point is a steel mill run to a ruthless budget
that sucks the vitality, and sometimes the souls, from its
dollar-dependent workforce. The labourers honour their obligations to
the families they support. The bosses, well, their savagery in
protecting their money and position make them caricatures of all that
was bad about that time. The tale cleverly incorporates a supernatural
theme and wraps this around
the need for personal honour.
Wind from a Dying Star
follows a band of the last humans, now evolved into unrecognisable
space dwelling beings that graze on radiation, the last remnants of
energy in a cooling Universe. Threatened by space carnivores and
listening to the need of their ancient Wiseman, they travel back to
Mother Earth. An epic voyage between stars dictated as much by
compassion as hunger.
Tk’ Tk’ Tk won the
2006 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. It follows an intergalactic
salesman (imagine those 1950s/60s caricatures of the man with a
suitcase full of samples) as he negotiates with an entirely alien
species. Witness his travails, despite a stock of the latest gizmos
Science can offer, to understand non-human points of view and an
unfathomable culture. A challenging, life changing experience.
Ecology of Fairie
has a teenage girl coping with one of the ghastly medical intrusions
that can afflict family members and strain understanding. Living in a
budget dwelling of corroding alloy, croaking frogs the background to
your concern about a nearest and dearest, what do you don’t need is
more stress. Certainly not an attack by aggressive mythic beings. The
lesson that you have to understand in order to survive is sorely
The Tale of the Golden Eagle,
an unsuccessful Hugo nomination, is at once an Arabesque tale of
strange technologies and entrepreneurship but also an extreme
interspecies love story. Remember Anne McCaffrey’s 1969 short story The Ship who Sang?
If not, read it. There are similarities in world design with a
spaceship controlled by an organic brain. McCaffrey’s universe is
wholly science-based whereas there is almost a fantasy element in
Levine’s. He raises questions: Is beauty worth more than gold and
reputation? What makes a human? Is there a limit to sacrifice?
Read the Hugo
Award-winning story Tk'Tk'Tk
from this collection on Asimovs.com.
Dalligan’s short fiction has appeared in a number of publications
including Static Movement, MicroHorror, Bewildering Stories, Boston
Literary Magazine, Ranfurly Review, Twisted Tongue and Every Day
Fiction and in the SAND: Strange Tales anthology.
Publisher: Wheatland Press
Awards: Winner, 2009 Endeavour Award; Short story Tk'Tk'Tk, winner,
2006 Hugo Short Story Award
D. Levine is an award-winning writer who won the 2006 Hugo
for Best Short story and has numerous other plaudits. His work has
appeared in a number of anthologies, both SF and Fantasy.
with David D. Levine
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Publisher's Website: Wheatland Press
recommended bookseller: Wrigley-Cross Books (signed copies)
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