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From a darkly humorous tale of the power of words ("Death and the Librarian") to a never-before-published response to the events of September 11 ("Ilion"), Friesner's 12 stories illustrate the author's acutely sensitive vision of wonder in the everyday world. Often cloaked in humor, these tales always provide keen insights using sf and fantasy as vehicles. Known primarily for his "Star Wars" novels, including Heir to the Empire, Zahn's short stories also deliver strong plots and memorable characters. Beginning with a tale of interstellar war against a hive-mind ("Point Man") and ending with a novella that combines space travel and music in a unique and surprising fashion, Star Song's six pieces illuminate the author's versatility and eclectic tastes. Zebrowski's many novels (e.g., Macrolife) mark him as a visionary as well as a master of hard sf. The ten short stories collected in In the Distance provide a benchmark of his creativity. From tales of the near future ("The Water Sculptor") to those of the far future ("Between the Winds"), the author expands his concept of the human condition to embrace the stars. Part of Five Star's continuing commitment to showcasing the short fiction of the genre's most prominent authors, these three volumes belong in most libraries where short sf is popular.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This collection of Friesner's best short stories ranges from the light and humorous to the darkly introspective and includes two Nebula winners among its highly re-readable contents. Friesner writes boldly, and her wit is sharp, funny, and often wry, as in "True Believer" and "Jesus at the Bat." But as often as she makes you laugh, she also leads you into the shadow side of human nature, as when a young man makes peace with the death of his gay uncle in "In the Realm of Dragons," an abused child learns what it means to keep a promise in "All Vows," and heaven becomes involved in the aftermath of 9/11 in the hauntingly beautiful "Ilion." Friesner appears to know her characters well, and they also know themselves very well, indeed. Finally, what makes these stories so good is Friesner's willingness to tackle difficult subjects and fearlessly explore the depths and breadths of feeling and experience exquisitely well. Paula Luedtke
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