Cadigan's ( Patterns ) third collection of short stories shows once again her astonishing range, economy of language, perceptiveness, and uncommon emotional power. Here are tales that span Cadigan's career, including her second professional sale, "Second Comings--Reasonable Rates," a biting look at a world where people can't let go of their departed loved ones, and "Lost Girls," original to this book, in which Tinkerbell presents her view of gender politics in Never-Never Land. Cadigan is at home in various genres, producing an exemplary tale of murder in an alien embassy ("True Faces"), an hallucinatory trip into the wild fears of a new mother ('The Coming of the Doll") and the totally uncategorizable, wonderfully weird "Mother's Milt," which suggests a unique solution to the problem of repeat offenders. This collection features some of Cadigan's strongest work--"Dispatches from the Revolution," "Naming Names," the eponymous "Dirty Work," "New Life for Old"--but it also reveals a troubling repetition of perspective. So many of her stories center on a woman (daughter, wife, mother) with a brutish, violent, boorish, unsympathetic or just plain dull man (husband, father, son, etc.) that, after a while, her themes become a bit monotonous. Cadigan's wit and sensitivity by and large overcome this minor flaw, however, and she continues to produce some of the best short stories in the science fiction field.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.