From Publishers Weekly
Bisson fans are bound to savor this strong story collection from the Hugo and Nebula Award winner, but it should be particularly revelatory to new readers in search of crisp black comedy and satire. The lighthearted "I Saw the Light" turns the classic alien contact story (with props from Arthur C. Clarke's 2001
) upside down, while the terse "Openclose" offers a glimpse into one future sponsored by the Office of Homeland Security. Capital punishment and religious education feed a surreal media circus in "The Old Rugged Cross." In the title story, legally ordered assisted suicide is supposed to help maintain world population, but no one—from suicides to the accidentally maimed and the hacked-up victims of genocide—can find peace while stuck waiting at "Death's Door." The haunting "Scout's Honor" and the gently elegiac "Almost Home" balance the bleak chills. The volume closes with the striking "Dear Abbey," about a desperate attempt to save the Earth from ecological disaster by traveling to the end of time.
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In Bisson's third story collection, the veteran satirist's prodigious wit and inventiveness demonstrate why some of his peers regard him as a national treasure. In the opening story, "I Saw the Light," Bisson wryly extrapolates Arthur C. Clarke's classic concept of an alien artifact found on the moon (the 2001
gambit) to reveal that humans have been serving as a kind of pet for the aliens. Other tales explore an innovation in prisoners' rights by which death-row inmates can now choose crucifixion on live TV; a paleontologist's surprising visit to the Stone Age; and a group of aging hippies forced to revisit their troubled past when they begin sharing the same dreams. The longest and perhaps best story, "Dear Abbey,"^B follows the exploits of a pair of radical environmentalists trying to avert global warming by traveling into the future by means of a porch glider. Bisson's distinctive minimalist style leaves plenty of room for disarming social satire that keeps one amused and pleasantly provoked. Carl HaysCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved